T hriving in areas of high moisture and full sun, canna lilies make a reliable addition to the Lowcountry landscape, yet plenty of folks don’t look beyond the common red Canna indica. Why not experiment with some other varieties to give your summer garden a late-season boost of color? There’s the ‘Bengal Tiger’ that erupts in brilliant orange petals; the flamboyant ‘Cleopatra’ awash in reds and yellows, and the ‘Tropical Rose’ with its blush-pink blossoms. Attracting bees and hummingbirds to vibrant flower clusters, these herbaceous perennials continue to bloom through the end of summer and promise exotic-looking foliage well into fall.
Cleopatra’ (Canna x generalis ‘Cleopatra’)
Like the infamous Queen of the Nile, this elegant canna has a mind of its own, featuring large green leaves and flower stalks woven with dashes of deep purple. The colors of its orchid-like flowers depend on the foliage from which they emerge—bright yellow if from the green, red if from the purple, or even a bit of both—so the blooming pattern always keeping you guessing. Reaching up to five feet in height and three feet in width, this captivating canna provides a dramatic backdrop to other plants in your garden.
Sun: Full sun
Water: One to two inches per week
Soil: Sandy loam, pH 6.5
Maintenance: Feed with 10-10-10 fertilizer monthly
’Bengal Tiger’ (Canna x generalis ‘Bengal Tiger’)
This canna appears ready to pounce with near-neon-yellow foliage bordered in purple and striped vertically with lime green. Large, oval-shaped leaf blades look almost as though they’re made of stained glass when backlit. Growing up to six feet tall and three feet wide, the ‘Bengal Tiger’ is stunning in a container or as a tropical accent in perennial borders.
’Tropical Rose’ (Canna x generalis ‘Tropical Rose’)
Lush, emerald green foliage is accented by bouquets of soft, rose-colored petals that bloom repeatedly from mid-summer through early fall, making ‘Tropical Rose’ the perfect accent for other warm-season growers. A dwarf form reaching only 30 inches in height and 18 inches in width, this All-America Selections winner is ideal for smaller spaces such as decorative pots and window boxes, as well as for use in large, mass plantings.