Someone recently gave me a bunch of canna lily bulbs, (July 5th) what should I do with them until it’s time to plant them next year?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Kelly: Cannas are such a fun plant to grow. They provide a lush, tropical feel to any sun-loving garden. They are hardy in zone 8, although some Kentucky gardeners have luck growing them as perennials in the garden. If this is the case, they are planted in a microclimate or heavily mulched during the winter months. I have had them return year after year in Shelby County but they are planted next to the house. If I were you, I would plant them now. We still have plenty of growing season left. They typically take 10-12 weeks to bloom so you may get any blooms this year but the foliage will collect nutrients which will be stored in the bulb for next year. Given the time of year it might be easier to plant them in containers. This will make it easier to remove them from the soil and store during the winter. Depending on how many you have, you may also want to experiment and leave a few in the ground to see if they survive. I have had luck storing the containers in the garage with no other protection. The foliage dies back but the bulbs survive and the next growing season they are lovely again. If you want to wait until next spring to plant them, they can be stored in a brown paper bag. Keep the bag in a dark, cool space. The bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. They are easy to over-winter and well worth the effort. I hope this is helpful.
Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener