When to Split a Canna Lily?

Updated February 21, 2017

Lilies grow from bulbs that require only minimal care. When they bloom, lilies display many colours on their star-shaped petals, and can add striking beauty to any garden. Canna lilies are especially large specimens, with large colourful blooms and equally sizeable leaves. Regardless of their size, though, canna lilies adhere to some standard care and division guidelines.

Growing Canna Lilies

Canna lilies need sun, quick-draining soil and plenty of nutrition. Plant them in an area that gets lots of sunshine and protection from winds and cold temperatures. Ideal locations are spots near walls or structures, where the plants can "hide." Make sure the area gets good drainage; standing water kills canna lilies. Amend canna lily growing soil with organic material to give the lilies the support and nutrition they need. Use peat moss, compost, bark or manure. Never overwater canna lilies; keep their soil moist but not wet. If you adhere to canna lily growing needs, your plants will thrive and spread.

Splitting Canna Lilies

Every two to three years, split your canna lilies. Lilies can grow quickly, and will take over a space and crowd everything else out. Divide canna lilies and move half the rhizomes to another area, to propagate new plants and leave the old ones space to grow. Split canna lilies in September or October, after they've finished blooming, and when they'll have time to establish again before winter.

To split canna lilies, dig up the rhizomes. Use a garden fork to dig into the soil, get under the bulbs and lift them up. Be careful not to damage any of the bulbs during this step. Once you've got the bulbs out of the dirt, look for the seams, where the bulbs are naturally divided. Use a shovel or knife to separate the bulbs in these spots. Split the canna lily bulbs until you have several separate bulbs; this should include not only the larger bulbs, but also the "bulblets" that grow from the stems and roots of the larger bulbs. Prune the stems off the bulbs that you're planning to move, and replant them elsewhere using standard lily planting guidelines.

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