condo care for a canna lily

(Question)

Hi I live in Montreal.This is the first year that I’ve lived in a condo.I have no heated garage to store bulbs and rhizomes. I only have an unheated cement locker type storage area on the ground floor and a third floor balcony with a small brick SE facing wall and very little shelter from winds. I know that If I leave them outdoors they will die. So far from my research I can see three options. I would like your opinion. A) Bring the pot inside, trim the frost damaged leaves (Just one frost so far here) and care for like a house plant near a window. B) Trim down foliage and put pot in dark room (inside is only option). Water lightly for a few weeks and then bring back into the sun and continue house plant care. OR C) Prepare roots for cold storage and keep in a bag in the refrigerator. Your advice would be greatly appreciated, Thanks

(Answer)

This question really has several answers and it really depends on the spaces you have available. You will definitely need to bring the rhizomes indoors as the temperatures in Montreal or Toronto for that matter are too cold to have them survive outdoors. I am unsure how cold your unheated locker space would be. If it remains above freezing this might be a suitable location to keep dormant rhizomes. The refrigerator method that you suggest might be a difficult option for you to maintain. Refrigerators usually are set to 1-4°C (34-40°F) and cannas should be stored at temperatures between 4-10°C (40-50°F). The dormant rhizomes should be stored in barely moist peat moss or vermiculite. The medium that you are storing them in shouldn’t dry out or the tubers will dry out too or shouldn’t remain too wet or they will rot. The first option that you suggest requires that you have a very sunny window as light levels in the winter will be quite low. Alternatively you could supply additional florescent lighting if you do not have enough natural daylight. The second option that you suggest would not be appropriate for the light levels in Montreal. The plant would almost be going dormant for a few weeks when it was in the dark room and would not have sufficient light to bring it back to full growth when you bring it out again at the end of November or December.

You might find a previous answer about cannas somewhat helpful as well.