Time to Pot Up Your Overwintered Canna Lily Bulbs

canna lily

canna lilyI recently wrote that February is the month to pot up any geranium plants you may have overwintered. Well, it’s also time to pot up your overwintered Canna lily bulbs. That’s pretty exciting, right?

When you think of how nurseries and garden centers sell a single potted Canna lily for anywhere from $6 to $12 each, it’s well worth your time to overwinter yours each year! And especially since the bulbs multiply in the soil during the growing season, so you get more and more.

My Canna lily bulbs have been sitting in shredded paper inside paper grocery sacks since last fall. If you’d like to see the process I went through, be sure to watch my video on overwintering Canna lilies.

As you’re ready to pot up your Cannas, I want to provide you some reassurance. As you pull each bulb cluster out of the paper sack, you might think they are beyond hope. That’s what I thought the first time I had overwintered my bulbs. Well, it turns out that — for the most part — no matter how sad they look, they WILL come back!

However, if your bulbs are thin, with no discernable “bumps” or shoots visible, well OK, maybe they didn’t make it after all. But this is the third year in a row that I’ve overwintered my bulbs and even though they’ll tend to look pretty dead, I will usually see a small bulb or a new shoot and realize it’s worth it to plant them and see what happens.

So let’s talk about what to do:

canna lilyFirst, trim off any remaining dead foliage. You might even want to snap off any shriveled parts of the bulbs, just to keep what you’re going to plant to a manageable size for potting.

Gather pots that are 6″ to 1 quart in size, depending on the size of your Canna roots.

Next, fill the bottom third of the pot with lightly-moistened potting soil. Press the bulb into that soil, making sure what will sprout is pointing upward. Cover the bulb with soil and fill the pot up to 1″ from the top rim.

Water the pot, place it into a tray that doesn’t have any drainage holes, and place the tray in a sunny window or under grow lights; I put mine next to our sliding door. That sunlight and warmth is going to help your bulbs sprout and grow.

canna lilyAfter a couple of weeks, you should hopefully be seeing some sprouts coming up through the soil surface. But even if you don’t, leave the bulbs alone for another couple of weeks because they are sometimes slow to re-sprout.

Once the leaves are growing well, I usually move my pots out to our unheated greenhouse as a staging area where they can grow until it’s safe to plant them into their containers or flower beds — after all danger of frost is past. You could try putting them in a sunny back porch window or outbuilding, provided the plants will get plenty of light.