Canna Indica (Indian Shot)
The Indian shot (Canna indica) is a plant species from the family of the reed family (Cannaceae). The Latin name “canna” means reed and refers to the upright and hollow stems of the plant. The addition “indica” does not refer to India as the original home, as the name suggests, but to the West Indies off Central and South America. The swamp plant originates from there and from Central and Central America. Portuguese and Spanish sailors brought the Indian flower reed to Europe in the 16th century. The plant has been crossed for 200 years, so that today there are about 2,000 varieties on the market. Also all Cannas available in the trade are hybrids – only these can be cultivated also in the tub.
The perennially herbaceous plant forms a thickened subterranean rhizome in the form of a tuber as an enduring organ. From this the aboveground, upright and strong stems emerge. The underground shoot axes of the Canna are starchy and edible when cooked. The Indica hybrids grow between 40 and 120 centimeters, some even up to two meters high.
The strong stems have broad-lanceolate, alternate leaves with a distinct midrib from which the leaf veins branch off. The green or dark reddish-brown stem leaves grow around the stem, are 40 to 60 centimetres long and 20 centimetres wide.
The flowers of the Indian reed are particularly striking: large, asymmetrical, hermaphroditic individual flowers stand together in partial inflorescences during the long flowering period from June to October in ears. The flowers have three green crown leaves and three sepals which envelop the stamens. Depending on the variety, these are yellow, pink or red. The carpels have grown together to form an ovary. The fruit is a warty, egg-shaped capsule with up to 25 dark brown seeds.
The flowers of the Canna have a yellow, red or orange colour depending on the variety and impress with their growth (left). The fruit is a warty capsule containing the seeds (right)
The swamp plant thrives on humid and nutrient-rich soil. It also needs a fully sunny and wind-protected spot on the terrace or in the bed.
Planting and care
From the middle of May, the Indian flower cane can be set directly outdoors. Depending on the height of growth, the rhizome pieces are placed in the ground at a distance of 50 to 100 centimetres. Water the plant daily from the beginning of spring sprouting and fertilise weekly with liquid fertiliser. To maintain the flower for a long time, make sure that the soil does not dry out. You should remove withered flowers regularly.
Cultivation in a pot
Smaller varieties of the Indian flower cane are also suitable for planting in tubs. It is advisable to bring the rhizomes forward in the bucket from the end of February or beginning of March, as the flowering time can be moved forward somewhat. Preferred specimens will start flowering in June. Shorten the roots of the previous year by a third and place them in a pot of potting soil until the young shoot is no longer visible. Place the pot in a light and warm place (e.g. in a greenhouse or conservatory) and water the plant with lukewarm water. Your Canna should only be taken outdoors when there is no longer a threat of late frosts. Make sure that the bucket has extraction holes so that no waterlogging occurs.
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Since the Canna is not hardy, its rhizomes have to be excavated at the first sub-zero temperatures. Shorten the stems by ten to 20 centimetres above the ground. Remove the rhizomes from the pot and place them in dry peat or sand. The plants should be dark and cool and wintered at about ten degrees Celsius. Keep dry during the winter, but do not allow to dry out. In March you can then pot the rhizomes again and prefer them.
Reproduction takes place by dividing the rhizomes between the beginning of January and the end of March. Carefully break the rootstocks apart. Each cut should have at least one strong shoot bud. The rhizomes are wrapped in humus, then the rooted parts are implanted and set up brightly. Watering should only take place once roots and leaves have formed, a more protracted alternative being to propagate by sowing. However, you should bear in mind that you can only obtain pure plants from purchased seed. The seeds can be sown under glass in small pots between December and January. As the seeds have a very hard skin, they should be briefly brewed with boiling water or soaked before sowing. It makes them germinate faster. Afterwards it is necessary to keep the soil evenly moist and to place the pots covered in a bright and warm place with a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. After germination, you can prick the plants into larger containers and then plant them out in mid-May.
There are dwarf varieties with a height of only 50 centimetres, medium-high varieties as well as high varieties with a height of more than 120 centimetres. Especially the small ones are suitable for planting in tubs:
Lucifer’: scarlet red, with yellow edges, 50 centimetres high
Seven Dwarfs’: mixture of yellow, salmon, pink, scarlet types, height 50 centimeters
‘Salmon Pink’: pink, height: 80 to 100 centimetres
‘Pink Sunburst’: pink with pink-black-green striped leaves, 100 to 120 centimeters
Eureka’: pure white, dark green foliage height 120 to 150 centimetres
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Diseases and pests
Often, aphids and nudibranchs occur at the leaves. Spider mites can infest the plant in greenhouses. As a countermeasure, splashing down with water can help.
Whether fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants in the garden or indoor plants in the house: spider mites can infest and damage many different plants. Here René Wadas, a herbalist, will tell you his tips on how you can effectively fight the arachnids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera: Fabian Primsch; Editing: Dennis Fuhro, Photos: Flora Press/FLPA, GWI