Growing Carinas

Height: 1.2m (4ft)

Planting distance: 45-60cm (1/-2ft)

Features: flowers: summer until first frost Soil: humus-rich, moist

Site: sun, shelter

Type: rhizome

For many years it was difficult to buy the rhizomes of these tropical plants, but they are now more readily available. They are excellent for late summer bedding, and flower until the first frost. Their brightly coloured blooms resemble a cross between an orchid and a gladiolus.

Carinas reach 1.2m (4ft) high, so plant them at the back of a border. The leaves are large – at least 45cm long and 30cm (1 ft) wide -with colours ranging from pale and deep green to bronze and purple.

The varieties available have all been developed from Carina indica but they are usually referred to as C. x hybrida, C. x generalis or horticultural cannas. Green-leaved varieties include ‘Bonfire’ (orange-scarlet flowers), ‘Denmans’ (yellow flowers), ‘Evening Star’ (dull carmine-pink flowers), ‘Humbert’s Seedling’ (scarlet flowers), ‘J. B. van der Schoot’ (lemon-yellow flowers speckled with purple-red), ‘Orange Perfection’ (soft orange flowers) and ‘President’ (vivid scarlet flowers).

Bronze- and purple-leaved varieties include ‘America’ (deep red flowers),

Cultivation

Plant the rhizomes 2.5cm (lin) deep in pots of moist peat in early spring. Place these under glass at a minimum temperature of 20°C (68°F).

If more than one shoot appears on a rhizome, divide the rhizome into sections, each with a shoot and some roots, and repot. Plant these out from early summer onwards in wellmanured soil in a sheltered, sunny position, 45-60cm (l1.5-2ft) apart.

Alternatively, transfer the young plants to tubs in mid spring and move these outside after the risk of frost has passed. Bring the plants inside again before the first frost.

Partially dry plants lifted from beds, then cut off the leaves and roots and store them in moist – but not wet – peat or leafmould in a frost-free place for the winter. If kept too dry, the rhizomes will shrivel and die; if kept too wet they will rot.

Propagation: In early spring, divide recently potted rhizomes which produce more than one shoot. Make sure each new division has some roots as well as a shoot. Pot them in moist peat, then plant out with the rest of the cannas in early summer.

Pests and diseases: Slugs, cutworms and leather jackets may eat the canna rhizomes.

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