How to Prune Canna Lilies

How to Prune Canna Lilies

I have a cluster of dark bronze canna lilies with deep red blooms growing right at the corner of my house. Their foliage and bright flowers are a real eye catcher when you pass my house, so I like to keep them pruned and looking good.

If you have canna lilies in your garden, you’re fully aware of their beauty and tropical features. The bright flowers and huge banana tree-like leaves can create a lush jungle feel around your yard or poolside.

How to Prune Canna Lilies

If you have canna lilies in your garden, you are probably also aware that they can become ugly really quick!

Infestations of canna lily leaf rollers are a threat in many areas of the southeast or wherever you grow canna lilies. Canna lilies can easily be beaten by the wind leaving their leaves in shreds.

If you’d like to learn how to get rid of or prevent canna lily leaf rollers, I have a great guide for growing lilies and treating this problem.

How to get Rid of Canna Leaf Rollers

Then there’s always that tall stalk that falls over and breaks just as it’s reaching its peak bloom.

Plant Them Close together

First off, if you haven’t, I want to recommend planting your canna lilies in a tight bunch. That way they can “lean on” each other as they grow and keep the bed looking fuller.

Just my opinion but it seems to work a lot better than spreading them out. You can always divide them later as they get bigger for more flowers.

Pruning Your Canna Lilies

If you’ve never tried pruning canna lilies, now is the time. Pruning canna lilies is a great way to keep your plants looking awesome throughout the entire growing season.

Properly pruning canna lilies can easily extend your blooming season for months. Pruning your canna lilies can also reduce the weight of the stems, thereby resulting in less of your tall stalks falling over ruining the overall look of the plant.

 If you’re more into videos, I have a short video of this process you can check out.

How to Prune Canna Lilies Video.

Use a Sharp Shear

Using clean, sharp shears is best. Even a slightly dull shear will result in just smushing the tender leaves of the canna lily, damaging your plant further.

When pruning your canna lilies, the first thing you want to look for is damaged leaves or stems. This type of damage can be from insects or being beaten by the wind or ripped along their veins.

Canna lilies are prone to insect attack because of their tender leaves always growing. To clean this part up, simply cut the damaged leaves off the plant as close as you can next to the stem.

If the leaves are too damaged overall, it is best to go ahead and cut the stalk all the way down to about 2 inches from the ground. This will encourage new growth.

Depending on the time of year, your canna lily will have plenty of time to grow an entire new stalk.

You can do this type of pruning anytime throughout the year.


The other type of pruning to clean up your canna lilies is deadheading. This is the technique of removing spent, wilted flowers. Feel free to cut these off as soon as they start to wilt.

Deadheading Canna lilies can help reduce the weight of the plant as it gets taller, helping to reduce their collapse during rainstorms or a windy afternoon.

To deadhead a canna lily, simply cut below the spent bloom. Be careful as the canna lily will continue to bloom on the same stalk as it grows up.

You should see a new bud coming out of a point just above the previous bloom. Deadheading the older flower will result in a fuller brighter new bloom.

Deadheading old wilted blooms will promote a longer bloom season and a more beautiful plant!

As you deadhead the spent blooms, you will get to a point where the canna lily will quit blooming altogether. If your leaves are not damaged and look good, you can just cut your last flower off and leave it.

If there’s any damage at all, feel free to cut these spent stalks all the way to about two or three inches above the ground.

That’s really all there is to pruning these beautiful flowers and keeping them looking their best throughout the season.

As winter comes around or a hard frost burns them up, don’t be afraid to cut the stems all the way to the ground. Canna lilies are one of those plants that’s bounds back to a full- grown plant come Spring, given the fact you are growing them in their proper zone, and they aren’t frozen to death.

In my zone 8b, I have Canna lilies that have been coming back every year even after the big snow a couple years ago. They are a tough plant and bring lots of joy throughout the years.

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