Canna lilies (Canna spp) are terrific flowers to grow in your garden because these perennials are very easy to care for and they are excellent for creating a focal point in your garden since these tall plants produce lots of showy flowers during spring and summer.
These cheerful flowers look their absolute best if you pair them with other spring and summer flowering perennials or annuals and they will grow very well in garden beds, mixed pots, or containers.
Some good companion plants for canna lilies include ornamental grasses, elephant ears, water hyacinths, hibiscus and dahlias.
If you want to create a showy display of blooms and attract lots of pollinators and hummingbirds to your garden then we highly recommend you pair cannas with some of these companions.
What To Plant with Canna Lilies
While selecting companion plants for your garden, it is always best to pair plants with similar growing conditions together.
By grouping together plants with the same sunlight, soil, and watering needs, the chances of getting all plants to flourish are much higher and you won’t have to spend extra time tending to certain plants in your garden.
Cannas are vigorous growers that can adapt to a wide range of soil types. They prefer rich and loamy soils that drain well but can tolerate slightly water-retentive soils.
These plants prefer lots of organic matter and need to be watered frequently if you want them to grow nice and tall. You can learn more about how to care for canna lily on our blog.
If you want your canna lilies to produce lots of flowers then it is best to establish them in full sun. White flowering varieties do however prefer a little bit more dappled shade.
Let’s take a look at some common canna lily companion plants in detail that can grow well in these similar conditions.
Ornamental grasses can be terrific companions to grow with cannas because the dramatic foliage of these grassy plants will add lots of texture to your garden bed. There are many different species of ornamental grasses that can be included when you are growing cannas.
Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum rubrum) is a showy and tall fountain grass that pairs well with purple foliage canna varieties like musifolia cannas. This is because the purple tones of this grass will match well with the purple foliage while the striking red flowers of the cannas will add lots of interest.
You can also grow shorter ornamental grasses like black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus) in front of light green foliage canna lilies to create more contrast in your garden.
Most ornamental grasses require lots of direct sunlight and free-draining but fertile soil to grow well. Some are more drought-tolerant than cannas but most should be able to keep up with the watering needs of these thirsty flowers.
You can also pair shade-loving ornamental grasses like Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) with white canna lilies (Canna indica)to create a nice and full but texture-rich garden.
Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are also terrific canna lily companion plants because their large heart-shaped leaves will complement the large leaves of cannas very well.
Elephant ears grow very well in moist soils that drain well but they do need a little bit more shade than cannas.
The best way to pair these two plants is by establishing your elephant ears behind the cannas so they can receive a little bit more shade while the other plants enjoy a little bit more sunlight.
Elephant ears can grow up to 6 feet tall depending on their variety and will quickly start to peek out from behind the cannas.
Water hyacinths ( Eichhornia crassipes) are good companions to include in water gardens and it is best to pair them with a water-loving canna variety like the water canna (Canna glauca).
Water hyacinths are perennials that can bloom throughout the year in tropical climates but they are considered annuals in areas like South America.
These water plants require plenty of direct sunlight and they flourish if they are floating on top of the still waters of ponds.
The best way to pair these tropical plants is by adding them on top of your pond with the lilies in the shallow part of your pond with the rhizomes at a water depth of 18 – 24 inches.
You can also place the water cannas in containers inside the pond. If water cannas are grown on the side of the pond, then you will need to take care to keep these plants damp at all times.
This combination of water plants will help you create striking water gardens but you should be careful not to let the vigorous growing water hyacinths take over too much.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinesis) are great companions to grow behind your canna lilies. These tall flowering trees will add color to your garden from mid to late summer and are great for attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
There are hundreds of species of hibiscus flowers and they can vary a lot in flower design and color.
These shrubs will grow very well in well-drained soil with lots of moisture. The color of the flowers can be influenced by the soil’s pH level and these flowers do prefer a slightly acidic soil type. It is best to plant these shrubs in full sun because they need at least 8 hours of direct sun to thrive.
The best way to pair these exotic plants with canna lilies is by placing them as a background plant behind your cannas. You can also use the shrub plant as a centerpiece and plant cannas all around it to create a very beautiful focal point in your garden.
The dahlia flower (D. x pinnata) is a terrific flower to include in your garden if you want to add lots of interest. These plants produce interesting blossoms in bright colors like peach, red, lavender, white, yellow, pink, and orange, and there are also some bi-colored varieties. They will continue to bloom from mid-summer to late fall.
Dahlias need lots of direct sunlight to thrive. These plants also need to be established in the well-drained ground that is kept moist but they do not tolerate frost. In colder regions, you will need to dig up the bulbs to keep them preserved.
Some varieties of dahlia can grow quite tall with a maximum height of up to 6 feet tall. Because of their height, you can easily plant these bulb plants amongst your lilies.
What NOT to Plant with Cannas
Canna lilies can be planted with a huge variety of ornamental species but not all plants will flourish next to them.
Because of their height, it is best not to plant short sun-loving perennial plants right next to them. The tall lilies could deprive short sun-dependent plants like bee balm of sunlight and can affect their growth.
Most canna species don’t flower if they are planted in shaded gardens. As such, it is best to avoid planting them with species like ferns.
These healthy plants can grow quite vigorously and shouldn’t be paired with slow-growing plants because they can easily take over the entire garden.
If you are pairing slow-growing plants like snake plants or money trees with cannas then you should take care to select slow-growing cannas.
Canna Lily Landscaping Ideas
Now that you know a little bit more about the best neighboring plants to pair with canna lilies, it is time to discuss a couple of landscaping ideas.
There are lots of great ways to pair cannas in your garden. Here is a quick look at some fresh ideas for your garden.
A Water Garden
Water cannas look striking in and around ponds and can be paired with all sorts of other water-loving plant species to create striking fish ponds.
The canna lily grows well in containers and can be used as a thriller in beautiful garden pots. For optimal results, you should pair them with a filler plant like coleus and a spiller like creeping jenny.
Mixing Different Heights
It is always good to mix plants of different heights. Cannas are pretty tall and can be paired with a taller flowering species and a shorter ornamental plant. Planting flowers of different heights is great for creating striking high country gardens.
Play with Colors
There are quite a few different canna species and they can vary quite a bit in flower and leaf color. Mixing contrasting colors like purple foliage cannas with bright green plants can help you create lots of depth in your garden.
Alternatively, you can mix complementary colored plants like red cannas with yellow dahlias or orange cannas with bright yellow sunflowers.
The canna lily is a very easy plant that can be paired with all sorts of companions like ornamental grasses, hibiscus, elephant ear, hyacinths, and dahlias. We are certain that any of these combinations will look quite striking in your garden and hope that you loved all of our landscaping ideas.