Cannas are tropical plants with long green leaves that surround stalks of bright flowers ranging in color from yellow to orange, red and pink. They generally grow up to two feet tall and, in some climates---particularly Southern California and other areas with Mediterranean climates---thrive year round. Because of their tall, imposing nature, cannas are best planted with either low, clump-like groundcovers or tropical trees and bushes.
Centers of Attention
Cannas are so bold and rich-looking that you don't want to plant other colorful flowers around them that might interfere with their grandeur. Consider planting cannas a foot or two back from the border of your garden bed and filling in the front with clumping grasses like blue fescue. The mounds of blue fescue almost look like stepping stones leading up to the cannas, and its bluish-gray leaves are a nice complement to the rich green canna leaves. Other types of grasses that complement cannas include blue lyme grass, ribbon grass, ornamental garlic and prairie dropseed.
A Sea of Cannas
Famed gardener Madame Ganna Walska was known for planting vast "carpets" of the same plant for dramatic effect, and cannas are prime candidates for this treatment. Plant palm trees of varying sizes---try to focus on varieties that don't grow too huge, like pygmy date palms, which generally top off around 6 feet, and the larger King palms, which get to about 20 feet---and then fill in the space between and around them with cannas.
Cannas do well in rock gardens. Put your large rocks in the ground first and then plant the cannas around them, making sure they are close enough that the canna leaves drape over the rocks. In the foreground, choose various succulents, such as jovibarbas or sedums, that lay low and are primarily green.
Lavendar is a great companion plant for cannas. Lavendar plants grow to about the same height but because the leaves and flowers are so radically different from cannas, they don't compete.
Another plant that celebrates the color purple is the purple heart, a low creeper with purple leaves. These make great companion plants for cannas, again because they complement the cannas rather than competing with them.
How to Plant Canna Bulbs
If you've ever been to a public garden or zoo in the summer and admired a tall, tropical-looking flower with bright red,...
How to Grow Canna Lilies
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