Breaking down Cannas

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Canna Roots

A view of the roots

On my website, under e:Pubs, you can locate my instructions on how to disassemble your container gardens of Canna plants (and other similar bulb, rhizome, corm type plants) for the over-wintering storage process.  Cannas are real tough to dig up from the ground because their roots grow deep and quickly in one season.  I prefer to grow most of my Canna plants in container gardens. 

I took photos of the root ball of Canna plants removed from a large container.  See below how the roots grew to the bottom and started girdling (just like it sounds, wrapping around in the base of the pot). 

When you see girdled roots in a pot of a plant you purchase, be sure to tease away the roots, and even trim them a bit or cut slices into the roots so they will break free of this uncomfortable situation.  Girdling can choke plants if not fixed prior to planting.  When girdling occurs on trees in particular, the tree may continue to grow but slowly it will get choked off at the base at the trunk gets larger.  It is uncomfortable for the plant – just as girdles are uncomfortable for women!

Base of Roots

Roots circle at base

You can see the base here, and at the top are the rhizomes. The rhizomes can be stored for reuse each season.  First, I cut away sections of soil, starting at the base of the soil by slicing.  Just like you would slice the bottom of a cake, so to speak!   I repeat the slicing until I reach the top where I will find rhizomes to remove. By starting from the bottom up, less disturbance occurs and rhizomes are not cut into by mistake.

Slice chunks away

Removing soil at base

Each slice of soil with roots are then tossed into my compost bin. 

Prior to removing the root ball from the container, cut away the stalks of the Canna plants about 2-4″ from the base.  A great tool to use are the pruners shown in this photo because they can handle the thickness of the stalks.   A Japanese garden knife works great to do the slicing of the soil and to break away any soil as you work through the rootball.

To learn how to store the removed rhizomes, which multiply during the growing season, refer to my October 2009 e:Pub on my website.  Just click RETURN HOME above to visit

Rhizome in soil

Remove for storing!

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