Old isn't always bad and this old garden canna (Canna x iridiflora "Ehemanii") is a real beauty.
She is a tall lady, so be prepared for her 7- to 8-foot height. She is expanding rapidly as she grows older, becoming a very large clump of spectacular banana-like foliage graced with clusters of drooping red flowers. Her flowers are not the huge bold flowers of newer varieties, but daintily hang as if she is wearing earrings.
Greg Grant, Stephen F. Austin State University research associate with the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, says it looks like a cross between a banana and a fuchsia. At any rate, Ehemanii makes a bold statement.
Ehemanii is giving all she's got right now in the IDEA Garden. You will see her behind the iron fence in the middle. We have had this lovely canna in our garden two years and started with a very small rhizome. See how big, bold and beautiful she is? Definitely a stand-out beauty in our garden.
Canna rollers are the worst thing that can happen to any canna and Ehemanii is not immune, but try to see the lighter side of canna rollers — they are the larvae of the tiny Brazilian skipper butterfly that follows cannas all the way up here and migrates back to more tropical areas for winter.
I personally do not like my cannas riddled by rollers, so on first sight I merely cut them to the ground. They regrow beautifully and usually are roller free. You also can use Bt pesticide to control them.
Cannas have contracted a virus that sometimes is so severe as to ruin the leaves, but faithful old Ehemanii does not have it.
Hopefully in a year or two we can offer a few of these cannas to sell at our bulb sale. In the meantime, you really should come down to the garden to take a look, and be sure to bring a camera!