Are Canna Lilies Perennials? (They’ve Got Rhizomes, After All!)

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Do you love beautiful canna lilies and hope to grow them all year long? This may leave you wondering, “are canna lilies perennials?” It’s no secret, these lovely tropical flowers can look beautifully out of place, depending on the region where you live.

So, are canna lilies perennials? Do cannas come back every year?

Let’s find out all about whether cannas are annuals or perennials – or if the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Are Canna Lilies Perennials - Red and Yellow Cannas
Are Canna Lilies Perennials – Lovely Red and Yellow Cannas growing in our neighbor’s yard

Are canna lilies perennials or annuals?

Prized for their tropical leaves, canna lilies are considered tender perennials. This means they grow as perennials in certain climates but not others. You may grow cannas as annuals in colder climates, but the better option is generally to dig them up and overwinter cannas indoors.

Do cannas come back every year?

The answer is, it depends. Canna lilies may come back every year in certain growing zones. Cannas are considered winter hardy in zones 7 through 10. In most cases, cannas will grow back again in the spring and summer every year in these zones. The winter chill of colder zones may kill canna rhizomes.

That being said, we live in PA zone 6b and some of our cannas DO come back every year. Most won’t unless we dig them up, but those cannas nestled close to the foundation of our house do sometimes come back every year.

Yellow Gardenline Cannas in Packages on Wooden Deck
Yellow Gardenline Cannas Still in Package – Tender Perennials. Sadly these did not bloom for us.

Are Canna Lilies Perennials or Annuals?

Canna lilies are perennial only in growing zones 9 and 10. Their tropical foliage and vibrant flowers bring an island type feel to gardens in just about any grow zone. Therefore, cannas are considered tender perennials.

Cannas grow quickly from a bulb, producing gorgeous foliage and flowers in a single season of growth. However, you must lift the tubers (rhizomes / bulbs) before the winter or run the risk of your cannas dying and not growing back. Canna lilies would be treated as annuals if you didn’t remember to dig up the rhizomes in time.

Loving Cannas Even Though They Aren’t Perennials in Our Zone

When we first bought our home back in 2007, the red canna lilies came with the house. They grew nice and close to the foundation with the deck on one side.

This sheltered location allowed the cannas to grow back every year. Even though we were in zone 6b – a much colder zone than where canna lilies are considered perennial – the grouping of cannas was large enough that some survived.

Over the years, I have tried transplanting cannas to other locations in my garden. If I don’t dig them up in the fall, they do not come back.

In the large clump of cannas by my deck, I’ve found many that rotted from the frozen winter temperatures. It seems the vast number of bulbs we had in one spot also insulated some of them. That way, some cannas could grow back while others perished.

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Now that you know cannas are not perennials in most zones, but actually tender perennials in zone 9s – 10, I hope this helps you to plan your garden accordingly!

If you like cannas, check out our post on How to Care for Canna Lily.

Do you grow cannas in with your landscaping? What zone are you? Do you dig them up every year?

Let us know your experiences in the comments below! We love hearing from you.

Happy Gardening!

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