Cannas are the quintessential plant for any Memphis tropical landscape. They are very hardy, multiply freely and easily, and come in a huge array of varieties. Cannas have been grown in my parents’ gardens and my own gardens for twenty years. We’ve never had a cultivar that didn’t do well in Memphis. They are a solid choice for zone 7 and 8.
In the spring, they can be found in their many cultivars at local plant outlets. Here are some yellow cannas just starting to bloom a few years ago at the Memphis zoo.
Some of the more interesting varieties in the last decade feature alternatively colored foliage, such as these burgundy cannas. A similar cultivar is called ‘Blackjack’. This photo was taken in Jackson TN, zone 7b.
This one below is called ‘Bengal Tiger’. In the second picture, a clump of ‘Bengal Tiger’ cannas is growing next to a stand of Musa ‘Orinoco’ bananas, while a clump of yellow cannas is growing on the right.
One of my favorite cannas is called ‘Tiki Torch’ for obvious reasons. I have grown this cultivar for years in Memphis. It adds a great splash of color, even when surrounded by larger plants.
There are only two issues that I have found with growing cannas in Memphis. First, a common pest for them is the canna leaf roller worm. They are a nuisance if left to their work, but easily controlled with a dusting of pesticide once or twice a season. I am sure there are some natural remedies as well if one looks for them. The other pest, not so easily controlled are tunneling rodents such as voles. In some older Memphis neighborhoods, this is an occasional issue.
Minor problems aside, cannas are not just a good option for subtropical gardening, they are a necessity. Rarely are tropical plants so easily grown in climates that experience continental winters. There are so many more to choose from than I have even listed here. Were I a wealthier man, I would experiment with as many as possible!