Friday, June 18, 2010

"I've Got a Tiger By the Tail"

Certain plants just look more tropical than others.  One of those REALLY tropical looking plants is the canna.  Cannas are common all over the South and everyone has them.  They are almost too easy to grow and you commonly see huge stands of thickly growing, stunted ones that do not look good at all because they have been devastated by leaf roller caterpillars.  This is certainly not the look that I wanted.  However, there was one canna that really captured my interest and I had to have one - the Bengal Tiger canna.

This is my little Bengal Tiger canna as it first began to come out this year.  Can you guess why it got the name Bengal Tiger?  It's because of the striped leaves, of course.

Here's another picture as it came out even more.  Notice the yellow stripes on the leaves and you can also see the red outline on the outer edge of the leaves.

Here's a full bush shot of the plant as it is about to bloom.  These plants have a beautiful form when at their best.  They will keep looking good as long as they are kept from getting too thick and you keep canna leaf rollers off of them.  You may have to use pesticide to keep those evil insects away. 

Here's a close-up of the blooms.  Maybe some of the Bengal Tiger name also came from the bright orange coloration of the blooms.  By the way, this canna is also called Pretoria in some places.

If you want to grow cannas, plant them in almost any soil and give them plenty of water.  They do not perform well in dry conditions.  They are great to plant in a boggy area of your yard.  They need full sun to bloom best, but they perform remarkably well in part shade.  You can even grow them in nearly full shade, though they probably won't bloom.  Bengal Tiger looks great even when not blooming, so it would be a good candidate for a shady area.  They spread rapidly and should be divided at least every three years.  There will be plenty to give away to friends.  I have a strong preference for cannas with variegated foliage because they look good even when not in bloom.  They need to be dug up in the fall if you live in an area where the ground freezes.  There are many different flower colors to choose from as well as ones with red foliage.  There are even dwarf varieties that you can try.  If you are wanting to grow a tropicalesque garden, you must have cannas along with your bananas, palms, and hedychiums.  So give them a try and you might find yourself enjoying this old Victorian favorite.

1 comment:

meemsnyc said...

The flower looks so tropical!!