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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Canna ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’: new from Plants of Distinction

Posted by Graham Rice on 17 Feb 2012 at 05:50 PM

Canna ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’: new dwarf, dark-leaved variety. Image ©BallColegraveCannas are very fashionable these days. With the recent enthusiasm for plantings with a tropical air, the bold foliage and colourful flowers of cannas create an exciting impact that’s seen far more often than a few years ago.

But there are two problems. One is that cannas are big plants; 5-6ft/1.5-1.8m is perfectly normal and with that hefty foliage they take up a lot of space. Also many of the familiar varieties are infected with virus and don’t always thrive the way we hope.

Dwarf cannas from seed solve both problems. Their scale is more suitable for small borders and small containers, and virus diseases are not transmitted by seed so they start off perfectly healthy.

Dwarf seed-raised varieties have been around for a while and, to be honest, they’ve not been a great success. But they’ve all had green leaves and it’s the purple- and bronze-leaved types which are the most popular.

Step forward Canna ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’. Reaching only 24-30in/60-75cm in height, with a spread of about 16-18in/41-46cm its foliage is deep coppery bronze and the flowers bright red with a slight carmine haze. At half the size of most other cannas it’s both small and dramatic. And you can keep the rhizomes till next year.

Sow this month, grow warm and harden off before planting out after the last frost.

Canna ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’ is available from Plants of Distinction and should be seen in good garden centres in spring.

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