Canna Lily Seed Harvesting: Can You Plant Canna Lily Seeds

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Canna lilies are commonly propagated by dividing their underground rhizomes, but can you plant canna lily seeds too? This article will answer that question.

Canna Seed Propagation

Propagation of canna lily by seeds is possible, as many varieties produce viable seeds. Since most of the plants with dazzling flowers are hybrids, starting canna lilies from seed may not give you the same variety.

Nevertheless, if you find it interesting to raise plants from seeds just to find out how they turn out, it is definitely worth a try. Moreover, you are not likely to be disappointed, as the wild varieties of canna lilies are all rather pretty, with striking colors and markings.

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting


So when can you harvest canna lily seeds? Once the flowers are spent, a cluster of seed pods develop. The pods are green, spiky, round structures that usually contain one to three seeds. The pods are harmless in spite of their outward appearance.

Canna lily seed harvesting should be done once these seed pods become dry. When pods open up revealing the black seeds inside, you can easily squeeze them out. They are quite big and easy to handle.

How to Germinate Canna Lily Seeds

Can you plant canna lily seeds directly in the garden? Canna seed propagation is not as easy as the seed collection. The seeds do not germinate when planted directly in the soil. The tough seed coat is the main obstacle. Canna seeds have to be prepared beforehand by softening the seed coat to encourage germination.

Canna seed propagation involves soaking, heating and scarification. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right. You should start the process at least one to two months before you plan to plant it outside. Germination usually takes one to two weeks.

Soaking – Canna seeds should be soaked in water for a minimum of 24 hours. Some recommend using lukewarm water for soaking. Use of a commercial medium such as Jiffy Mix, may be ideal for germinating canna lily seeds. Make small depressions in the medium and put in the seeds. Cover with the mix and water.

After planting the seeds in the medium and watering, the container should be covered in plastic wrap and kept warm indoors. A constant temperature of 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.) is necessary to initiate germination. You can use a heating pad to maintain the temperature.

Scarification – Another method to encourage canna seed germination is by rubbing off a bit of the seed coat before planting. Use a file or sandpaper to scrape off the seed coat. You should keep rubbing until the whiteness of the endosperm becomes visible.

Scarified canna seeds can be planted directly in the medium without soaking, as water can easily get across the seed coat now. But the container should be kept warm throughout.

Canna lily is a monocot, with just one seed leaf emerging first. When the seedlings are over 6 inches in height, they can be transferred into pots. Planting in the garden should be attempted only after all danger of frost is over.

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