Canna Lily Seeds: Harvesting & Propagating Guide

Colorfully renowned Canna Lily flowers are an exceptional addition to your garden in summer, but do you know about their notorious seeds? 

The seeds are the unsung heroes giving life to this beautiful perennial plant. But are reputedly known to be hard nuts to crack for germination!

Generally, to harvest Canna Lily seeds, wait for the seedpods to dry in summer and squeeze out the black seeds with bare hands. Following this, scarify the seed coat, soak the seeds in water for 24- 48 hours and place them about 1/4th inch deep in well-draining soil to germinate them.

Image represents canna lily seeds inside dried seedpods
Canna Lily seeds peep out from the dried seedpods when they mature.

I recall the days when my friends and I played with Canna’s seeds. At the time, we didn’t know that we were accidentally helping the plant to disperse the seeds in my garden.

After indulging in the gardener’s lifestyle, I easily grew many Canna lilies regardless of their tough seeds. So if you also want to grow Canna using seeds, keep reading!

Overview of Canna Lily Seeds

Canna Lily seeds are nothing special if you see them at first, other than their round shape.

In summer, you usually find two to three round or spherical black to dark brown seeds lying inside a mature papery brown seedpod.

All the seedpods in the plant mature within this time. You can expect Canna to set seeds whenever the plant produces blooms within summer.

Image represents green seedpods of canna lilies
Seedpods of canna lilies form when the flowers are spent.

When young, the seedpods are green with rubbery spikes on the outside, nurturing white and soft immature seeds inside.

You can also learn about the Canna Lily seeds from the table.

Seed AttributesProperties
ShapeRound to spherical
ColorDark brown to black
Size0.5 to 1 centimeter in diameter
WeightAbout 0.2 gram
Seeds Per Pod2 to 3
Harvesting SeasonEarly to mid-summer
Germination InitiatorWater
Germination Time7 to 14 days
Germination To Flowering TimeAbout 3 months
Treatment Prior To Germination1. Scarring the seed coat
2. Soaking in warm water for 24 to 48 hours
Germination TemperatureBetween 18°C to 23°C during day
Around 15°C during night
Seed Sowing TimeMid to late February
Soil Type and pH For Seed GerminationWell-draining soil with pH between 6.5 and 7
Seed Sowing Depth1/4th inch deep
Cotyledon(s)One
ToxicityNon-toxic for pets and humans

Although the seeds look somewhat edible, the dried seeds are useless for consumption.

Besides, immature and white seeds are edible after cooking!

It means that the seeds carry no toxic traits, but it doesn’t mean that you should gobble a lot of them.

How to Harvest Canna Lily Seeds?

Harvesting Canna Lily seeds might be the easiest task for you among all the garden plants.

When the Canna Lily seeds are ready, you can see them peeking out from the dried seedpods from early to mid-summer.

However, to produce the seeds, the flowers must be pollinated.

And if your garden has pollinators like bees or hummingbirds, the process becomes easy as Canna can self-pollinate!

After pollination, the plant produces black or brownish-black seeds, and you can almost see the process of seed formation.

Image represents immature seeds of canna lily
Immature Canna Lily seeds are white.

Yes, I am not joking! When I was kid, I did not wait for the seeds to develop and break open the green pods on the spur.

Foolish of me, the seeds used to be immature and white in color.

However, later I learned that the Canna lilies signal that they will produce the seeds, and you don’t need to open the seedpods to see this.

  • After pollination, the flowers fade within 1 or 2 days and turn brown.
  • There is a small nub at the flower’s base.
  • Nub swells into a round, oval, green seedpod that protects the seeds.
  • Remnants of the petals crowning at the top of the pods shrivel and fall.
  • A few days later, the seedpod dries off and turns papery brown in color.

As soon as the color of the pod changes, seeds peep out from the cracks on the pods, and the fun process of harvesting begins!

Steps to Collect the Seeds

Collecting the Canna Lily seeds is a joyful experience. There is not much to learn about, and it shouldn’t be a pushover even for amateur gardeners.

Seeds are ready when they start to spill out from the seed pods in the fall.

So, prepare yourself with all the necessary tools for seed collection, such as gloves, pruners, and disinfectants.

If you are up for it, follow these steps to collect the seeds.

  • Select the seedpod that is dry and turned papery brown in color. Not all the pods mature at the same time, so leave the green ones.
  • Take the shears and cut them at the base of the seedpod, where it joins the flowering stem.
  • You can also use your hands. Hold your palm in front of the pods, and use the other hand to pinch out the seeds gently.
  • Another method is to remove the pods from the plant with bare hands and pinch out the seeds.

You can also take the pods between the palms of the hand and rub them together, like dehusking peanuts!

You can also check the video of harvesting for ease.

Storing the Canna Lily Seeds

Once you have collected the seeds, begin storing them immediately.

Although the seeds feel hard as a stone, they are still soft against molds.

So, you got to dry them before they can be stored to prevent them from rotting.

Here are the steps that you need to store them successfully.

  • Take a window screen and lay it flat on a table.
  • Separate any debris from the seeds that you have collected.
  • Place the seeds on the window screen for 3 to 4 days for drying.
  • After this, you can place the seeds in a paper envelope, zip-lock bag, or glass jar.
  • Mark the date of the seed collection and storage.
  • Place the bags or jars in a cool, dry place.
Image represents storing canna lily seeds
Store Canna Lily seeds inside an air-tight zip-lock bag.

If you don’t have a window screen, use paper towels or coffee filters to wrap the seeds.

Also, roll the seeds every day so that they are evenly dried.

You can also leave the seed in the pods, which is a much better option as the papery pods act as a natural protection for the seeds.

Canna Lily Seeds for Sale

You can buy the Canna Lily seeds from any of the links below if you don’t have plants planted in your garden.

Sites/ ShopsDelivery Period
AmazonWithin 4 to 5 days after placing an order
EtsyWithin 30 to 37 days after placing an order
WeseedsWithin 7 to 30 days after placing an order
HarrisseedsWithin 1 to 2 days after placing an order
EbayWithin 1 to 4 days after placing an order

How to Grow Canna Lily from Seeds?

Harvesting Canna Lily seeds seems easy, but the process of germination will break your sweat.

This is because the seeds have specific requirements and won’t germinate if you don’t tickle their seed coat!

Image represents scratched seed of canna lily
Scratch the seed coat of Canna Lily seeds to reveal the white interior.

The seeds are ready to be placed in the soil right after harvest.

However, storing seeds can increase the viability, plus you can have propagating materials available for the next season.

A hybrid Canna Lily cannot form seeds. This is because many Canna lilies are crossbred to form new varieties that have lost their seed setting capacity.

Fortunately, those varieties that set the seeds can germinate with a little effort.

Usually, mid to late February is the perfect month to plant the seeds.

However, the ground is still frosty, so they start the seeds indoors and then transplant the seedlings outside.

But first, gather the right tools to plant and germinate the seeds.

RequirementsSpecifications
Sodium Hypochlorite SolutionTo disinfect the seeds
Biodegradable PotsTo plant and grow seedlings
Seedling Starter TrayAlternative for planting and growing seedlings
Nail ClippersTo scarify the seeds
SandpaperAlternative for scarifying the seeds
Glass BowlTo put the seeds for soaking
Coconut CoirSubstrate for growing the seedlings
PerliteAerating component of the substrate
Heating MatTo provide heat for the growing seedlings
Plastic WrapTo cover the pots or tray during the seed's germination
Fluorescent Grow LightsFor providing artificial light to the seedlings indoors
Low Nutrient Liquid FertilizerFeed for the developing seedlings
Frost BlanketTo protect the seedlings against the frost
PrunersTo cut the seedpods
DisinfectantTo clean pruners and clippers
Lime PowderTo increase the soil acidity
Soil ThermometerTo measure the temperature of the soil
GlovesFor protection

Steps to Propagate the Seeds

Once you have collected all the requirements, it’s time to propagate!

Step 1: Scarifying the Seeds

Prepare the seeds by scarifying and soaking them in water simultaneously.

But before this, place the seeds in 6% sodium hypochlorite solution for 10 minutes to disinfect them and wash them 4 to 5 times with distilled water later.

Now, you can scarify the seeds in one of the two ways, as I do.

Scarify In Boiling Water
  • Boil some water, but don’t add the seeds directly. Let the water stay for 1-2 minutes.
  • After this, add the seeds to the water.
  • Let the seeds stay in the water for 24 to 48 hours after the water cools down.
Scarify Using Nail Clippers or Sandpaper
  • Hold one seed with your index and thumb finger.
  • Use the side of the nail clippers to nick the outer coat of the seed to reveal the white interior.
  • Alternatively, use sandpaper to scratch the surface of the seeds, which also works fine.

You need not worry even if you cut or scratch more than required. Canna Lily seeds are tough for a reason and will sprout just fine.

Make sure not to scratch or nick near the micropyle region of the seed. The roots later come out from the micropyle during germination.

Image represents the micropyle region of the seed
Roots come out from the micropyle at the time of germination.

Step 2: Soaking in Water

Concurrently scarify and soak the seeds while using boiling water.

However, soak the seeds separately for 24 to 48 hours if you nick or scratch them.

Moreover, soaking the seeds speeds up the process of germination later by softening the seed coat and allowing the water to reach the embryo early.  

  • Take a large glass bowl and place the nicked seeds in it.
  • Add distilled water and soak the seeds for 24 to 48 hours.
  • When you observe the white radicle sprouting, you can take the seeds out for planting.
  • It is even better to wait for the roots to sprout up to 3 to 4 millimeters, so the roots have a heads-start to grow in the soil later.

Step 3: Planting the Seeds

You are ready to plant your seeds once they finish germinating. Follow these steps.

  • Place the seeds in biodegradable pots or a tray with seed starter mix.
  • Use coconut coir and perlite or sand in a ratio of 1:1 to grow the seedlings.
  • Sow one seed per pot or keep a distance of 2 to 3 inches between seeds while planting in the tray.
  • Poke a hole using a pencil about 1/4th inch deep.
  • Place the germinated seeds with their roots pointing down to the soil.
  • Cover lightly with the soil, and then keep the soil moist evenly.
  • Place the pots or trays over a heating mat maintained around 65°C to 75°C.
  • Using plastic wrap, cover the pots or tray to sustain a humid environment for seedlings to grow.
  • Seedlings shall sprout anywhere within 7 to 14 days.
  • After sprouting, remove the plastic film and place the tray or pots in an area that receives 6 hours of sunlight daily.

Provide the seedlings with optimum red and blue lighting balance for 10-12 hours while growing under fluorescent lights. Give the seedlings a 12 hour dark period for the best result.

  • Start giving low-nutrient fertilizer when they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
  • When the seedlings reach 5 to 7 inches or sprout 2 to 3 leaves, harden them.
Image represents the seedlings of canna lilies
Grow canna lilies indoors in a seedling starter tray.

Take the seedlings out in the shade and accustom them to external conditions for a week.

Protect from hot sun and wind. Use frost blankets at night to protect them from cold drafts.

Once the ground temperature reaches around 50°F, you can plant the seedlings in the garden soil.

Step 4: Planting Outdoors

  • Place the seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart in the garden soil.
  • If you wish to place the seedlings in larger pots outside, use pots that are at least 18 inches wide.
  • Choose a place that receives full sun.
  • Also, Keep well-draining soil and add sand or perlite for extra drainage.
  • Maintain the soil pH between 6.5 and 7. Add lime to maintain acidity if the soil is basic.
  • Loosen the soil up to 12 to 13 inches deep and mix 2 to 4 inches of compost.
  • Plant the seedlings, moist the soil with water, and cover the soil surface at the root line with mulch.

Feeling difficult to grow fruits and veggies? Learn about harvesting parsley and planting peach seeds!

Tips to Care During Propagation

  • Avoid the sand particles from contaminating or damaging the seeds while using sandpaper.
  • Plant the seedlings outside when the ground is warm enough to grow.
Image represents various steps of germination and propagating canna lily seeds
Germinate Canna Lily seeds indoors and later transfer them outside.
  • Keep the required spacing (18 to 24 inches) between the plants so that the delicate leaves don’t rub each other when swaying along the wind currents.
  • Prevent deadheading the blooms if you want Canna to set the seeds right on time.
  • Disinfect the seeds and wash them afterward. Avoid planting them directly in the soil after disinfection.
  • Don’t use hot boiling water to scarify the seeds. Maintain a temperature around 77°C to 100°C.

Tips to Care for Canna Lily Seedlings After Germination

  • Maintain the surrounding temperature within 15°C to 32°C.
  • Plant the Canna Lily in a sunny spot in your garden that receives 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight, or move the pots in the sun for the time being.
  • Provide moist and well-draining with slightly neutral to acidic soil.
  • Use 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer in the growing season and 15-30-15 NPK fertilizer in the flowering season.
Image represents blooming flowers of Canna lily
Canna lilies require sunlight to bloom.
  • Apply fertilizer in early spring, once a month, until six weeks before the first frost hits your area.
  • Provide 7 liters of water per week, a liter per day, to your Canna Lily.
  • Prune Canna lilies once a year when the first frost of the fall kills all the above-ground parts.
  • Dig up the rhizome during winter and wait for spring to replant it again.
  • Canna Lily loves an arid environment, so sustain humidity levels around 30% to 40% for full growth.

Conclusion

Canna lilies are an inseparable part of my childhood, mostly because of my playtime with their seeds.

These lily seeds are tough but aid a little effort to break their stubbornness by giving them a gentle scratch on their seed coats.

You must also maintain the right temperature with proper sowing depth while planting them.

Seeds are easy propagating materials to start your gardening journey, so try learning to grow Anthurium Seeds and Geranium Seeds!

Happy growing and gardening!

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