Kathy Crowley on Growing Sought-After Tropical Plants Like the Cannas



As sun-bearing Floridians, we inherently gravitate towards the tropical flora and vegetation that primarily grows and thrives closer to the Southern hemisphere. Birds of Paradise, Red Congo, Monstera, Ring of Fire, Travelers Palm, etc.— these vivacious tropical plants that remind us of lush rainforests and paradisical beach locales are part of the reason many of us migrated to the balmy gulf coast of Florida.

Kathy Crowley of Crowley Nursery has been bringing natural beauty to backyards and beyond for close to 30 years now. Now providing our readers with useful tips and expert advice, find her feedback to common questions she receives from green gardeners looking to expand their know-how on horticulture, permaculture, and prospective plant planning.

SRQ: I want my yard to be a tropical oasis — I hear you can grow Cannas here; is that true? [Canna lily plants - a rhizomatous perennial with tropical-like foliage and large flowers that resemble that of iris]

Kathy: Tropical plants are a great addition to your landscape planning. There are cannas that add color and have that large-leaf-look that many are trying to find. They can have all green leaves or have color with yellow and pinstriped white leaves, called Bengal Tiger. Leaves with blends of reds, yellows, and orange are called Tropicana. Cleopatra has green and dark chocolate-colored leaves. Each canna species is different from flowers that can be yellow with markings or red or orange mixed. Canna plants come in dwarf and tall—they can grow as tall as 6 to 8 feet in the full sun or partial shade (which will get them to grow a little taller), whereas the dwarf varieties will stay in the 3 to 4 feet range. You can mix your canna with other plants or grow separate in a container. All will bloom most of the year and attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your gardens. Canna lilies are low maintenance and easy to grow, and both their flowers and foliage offer long-lasting color.

If you have a particular gardening question you'd like answered and featured in a future column, email SRQDailyGardening@srqme.com

Crowley Nursery, 16423 Jomar Road Sarasota, 941-322-0315.

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