Can You Grow Canna Lilies As Houseplants?

Canna lilies are one of those perennials you’ll find in almost every garden. Their bright and flamboyant leaves and flowers make your garden a sight to behold in the warm months of summer. Canna lilies are normally outdoor plants, but can you grow them as houseplants too?

You can grow canna lilies as houseplants by creating the right conditions. The potting soil should be rich in nutrients and moist but well-drained. Also, place the plant in a room with temperatures around 60°F (15.55°C) and with good sunlight. Fertilize the plant regularly.

If you are a plant lover who wants to continue enjoying the beauty of cannas through the year, this article is for you. I’ll give you key facts about canna lilies, how to grow cannas as houseplants, and some practical tips for caring for your indoor canna lilies.

Growing Canna Lilies As Houseplants

In a garden environment, canna lilies bloom in summer. Thus, you should plant them in spring, so they have time to grow. Cannas can’t survive extremely cold winters, so you have to remove the rhizomes and store them indoors.

To grow canna lilies as houseplants, here are the steps to follow.

  1. Plant the rhizome 3-4 feet (36-48 inches or 91-122 cm) deep in the potting soil. Ensure the rhizome has at least one bud. Too many will cause crowding. An average of 3 buds in a pot is ideal.
  2. Use a large enough pot for the canna lily species you are planting. Canna rhizomes grow horizontally and need space to propagate without overcrowding. Canna species that grow taller require larger pots compared to the dwarf varieties.
  3. Choose a spot with adequate sunlight. Your potted canna lily should get at least 6 hours of sunlight. Place the plant in front of a window on the south side of your house. The more sunlight your canna gets, the better it blooms.
  4. Provide the correct winter temperatures. The room that harbors your canna lily should be around 60°F (15.55°C) or higher. Lower temperatures will diminish the plant’s growth and reduce its chances of blooming.
  5. Ensure the soil is always moist but well-drained. Water your canna houseplant regularly and ensure the pot has one or more draining holes. You can leave a saucer under the pot with water once in a while since cannas are naturally swampy soil plants.
  6. Fertilize your canna throughout the year. Potted cannas grow continuously and need consistent soil nutrients. An organic fertilizer high in phosphorous is ideal. An all-purpose fertilizer is also a good substitute if organic fertilizer isn’t available.
  7. When the stem of a canna houseplant finishes flowering, prune it at the base. A canna stem produces 2-3 flower bunches, and cutting off old stems makes room for new sprouts and blooms. Also, deadhead faded flowers to stop them from seeding.

Proper care for canna lily houseplants is crucial in protecting your plant from possible growth issues.

Possible Canna Lily Problems

Canna lilies are relatively easy to grow. However, oversights in the plant’s care can lead to problems that could negatively affect the growth of your potted canna.

Below are some problems associated with canna lilies.

Canna Lily Leaves Turning Brown or Yellow

Improper canna lily watering can affect your plant’s leaves. If the soil is too dry, the leaves will dehydrate and start turning brown.

To prevent leaves from browning, water your canna houseplant generously at least once a week and more regularly in summer. Also, ensure the soil does not become completely dry between waterings.

Your goal when watering canna lilies should be to keep the soil moist throughout but not soaked. During the summer, your plant might need more water to compensate for the dry, warm weather. Conversely, you should water it less frequently during the winter.

You can use a pot with drainage holes at the bottom to maintain moist but well-drained soil. Keep a lid or plate below the pot to catch the excess water. You can also mix pumice or perlite into the soil to make it drain better.

Overwatering will also cause root rot, especially if your canna lily houseplant is young and has not developed a robust root system. In this case, your canna lily will start drooping and can present yellow leaves, a common problem with overwatering.

Canna Lily Not Growing or Flowering

Stunted growth in canna lilies is usually caused by a lack of soil nutrients or insufficient sunlight. If you notice that your canna houseplant is in a shaded area, move it to a spot where it can get enough sunlight through a window.

If the plant is in a spot with enough sunlight but still isn’t growing well or blooming, assess your fertilizer application routine. You should regularly fertilize your potted canna as it grows all year long, unlike garden cannas that hibernate in winter.

Pests on Canna Lilies

Canna lilies are largely pest-free. However, canna houseplants or greenhouse cannas sometimes attract pests.

The most common pests include the following.

Leaf-rolling caterpillars, especially the larger canna leafroller and the arrowroot butterfly, are a terrible threat to canna leaves.

The presence of these pests can cause damage to both leaves and flowers, making your indoor canna plant less attractive.

According to Oklahoma State University, severe pest infestation on canna lilies can cause leaf discoloration and stunted plant growth. The leaves may turn silvery and appear scorched, similar to plants infested by fungus.

Canna Leaves Splitting

If your canna houseplant presents split leaves, your plant might be in a location that receives too much wind, like a frequently opened back door. Ensure your potted canna does not experience strong, direct wind, especially if the plant is still in the early stages of growth.

Fun Facts About Canna Lilies

No one can deny that cannas are spectacular summer flowers. But there are plenty of interesting facts about these beauties that aren’t related to their looks.

Canna lilies are one of the species in the family of Cannaceae and belong to the only genus in the family that flowers. Although they are called canna lilies, they are not the same as common lilies.

Other common plant species in the Cannaceae family include gingers, arrowroots, bananas, birds of paradise, and heliconias.

Their leaves look similar to those of the banana plant but come in multiple colors.

Some of the most common colors are as follows.

  • Green
  • Bronze
  • Burgundy
  • Purple
  • Multicolored variants like green with yellow

These colors make canna lily leaves ornamental even without flowers.

The colors of the canna lily flower are equally varied. These include the following.

  • Red
  • Pink
  • Orange
  • Salmon
  • Yellow
  • Variegated colors like red with yellow

There are many varieties of canna lilies. Some grow as high as 10 feet (304.8 cm) in a garden. However, even the taller canna varieties will be shorter when grown in planters.

Dwarf varieties are the best option for potting as houseplants, as their height averages around 3 feet (36 inches or 91.44 cm).

Here’s a tabled summary of tall and dwarf canna lily species that are great as potted houseplants.

Canna SpeciesLengthFlower ColorLeaf Color
Red FuturityDwarfCrimsonBurgundy
CleopatraTallYellow with Red SpotsGreen with burgundy stripes
Black KnightTallCrimsonBurgundy
Yellow FuturityDwarfYellow with Red SpotsGreen
Orange PunchMediumOrange and YellowGreen
PretoriaMediumScarlet red with yellow edgesVariegated
KretaDwarfOrange and RedGreen
PresidentMediumScarlet Red with yellow edgesGreen
Tropical SunriseMediumPinkGreen

Note: Tall = ≥ 6 feet (182.88 cm); Medium = 3-4 feet (91.44 – 121.92 cm); Dwarf = 1 – 2 feet (30.48 – 60.96 cm).

Other common canna lily species include the following.

  • Canna Ambassador
  • Canna Brilliant
  • Canna Tropicanna Black
  • Canna Tropicanna Gold
  • Canna Phasion
  • Canna Apricot Dream
  • Canna Firebird
  • Canna City of Portland
  • Canna Erebus

Canna lilies also have some interesting characteristics.

  • Canna lilies are not true bulbs. The creeping rootstalk from which their shoots and other root systems grow is called a rhizome.
  • Some canna species’ rhizomes are edible and cultivated for agricultural purposes in certain parts of the globe. The most popular of these is the Canna Indica, also known as Canna Edulis.
  • Canna lilies have an optional dormancy. Unlike other tubers that go to dormancy in cold weather, canna lilies can grow through winter if shielded from frost. Potting canna lilies as houseplants is one way of keeping them from going dormant.


Canna lilies are easy to grow inside the house if you ensure optimal conditions. Just plant the rhizome 3-4 feet (91.44 – 121.92 cm) in the potting soil and watch as the cannas sprout and bloom into beautiful flowers in a few months.

Ensure your canna lily houseplant is in a large pot with rich, moist, well-drained soil for proper growth. Place it in a spot with good sunlight and ensure the temperatures are at least 60°F (15.55°C). Fertilize and prune when necessary.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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