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Canna, calla lilies differ in their need of coddling

Posted: August 29, 2012 - 10:41am  |  Updated: August 29, 2012 - 10:52am

 

August is one of the hottest months of our gardening year. Although watering the garden is the number one method for keeping a garden healthy, turf should be watered sparingly to increase drought tolerance during the summer.

Watering turf during early morning hours reduces the chance of fungal diseases. Because flowers grown in pots dry out faster, water them every day. The easiest way to check a potted plant’s need for water is to feel the soil, If it is dry, water the plant.

Prune shrubs if needed, but do not prune azaleas or camellias because flower buds for next year are beginning to form. Prune peach trees now, then fertilize. For insect and disease control, spray roses weekly, then fertilize after each bloom cycle. Fertilize annuals with a bloom booster through August. Prune canna and calla lilies.

Canna lilies are beautiful, but they are not actually part of the lily family. They grow to about 4 feet tall with paddle-shaped leaves, and produce lily-like blooms. They are not hardy plants and must be pruned and protected for continued growth. Cannas should be pruned after all the flowers on one stalk have faded. Cut the faded flower’s stalk all the way to the ground. This encourages the plant to send up new stalks.

After canna lilies have bloomed for the season, continue to water them regularly. Remove leaves because they will wither. After all leaves have turned brown, dig up the canna rhizomes. Clean rhizomes with water then air dry for several days. Place canna rhizomes in a container with peat moss and store in a cool, dry area through the winter.

Calla lilies are beautiful, trumpet-shaped flowers and are often used in bridal bouquets and wedding arrangements. They grow to 1 to 3 feet in height. The calla lily, like the canna lily, is not a true lily.

Calla lilies are easy to care for and can produce numerous bulbs for planting. Unlike the canna lily, calla lilies are hardy plants requiring low maintenance. Callas should be planted in soil that drains well in a sunny to partial shady area. After planting, soil should be kept moist but not drenched.

After the calla bloom has withered, start the pruning process. The most basic type of pruning is to remove dead branches. Cut off only the dead part of the branch. Prune branches that have grown much taller than others. Deadheading the calla lily encourages blooming. Snip off the bloom when the flower starts to fade. If lilies are planted in containers, they should be repotted and fertilized once a year after the dormant season.

Once dormant, dig up and split the calla bulb. To split the bulbs simply break them apart. If the calla bulbs are not split it causes congestion of the plant’s root system. Store calla bulbs in vented bags or open containers filled with loose soil.

Gardeners needing assistance with problem soil, plants or pests can visit the Clemson University Web site, hgic.clemson.edu, or call (888) 656-9988 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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