Canna became popular Victorian plant.
I remember on my trip to Amalfi that cannas grew in flower beds that lined the main road of a small town we visited. You could tell they come up every year. That climate was probably ideal for them.
Cannas originate in sub-tropical and tropical America and Asia.
Since the canna was a popular Victorian plant, I searched out comments in my garden history archives about it from the Victorian period.
In 1900 Cornell University Professor of Horticulture L. H. Bailey edited his classic garden resource The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture which said “Cannas are commonly used only in formal beds, but most excellent effects may be secured by scattering clumps in the hardy border or amongst shrubbery. “
The color of a canna with dark leaves offers a contrast for other plants in the garden. Even the flowers can offer a certain look. The SCH says, “Against a heavy background of green, the gaudy flowers show to their best, and the ragged effect of the dying flowers is not noticed.”
Some people did not partcilarly find the flowers attractive, but the structure of this large plant met with approval. The SCH says, “As individual blooms, the flowers are not usually attractive, but they are showy and interesting in a mass and at a distance.”
On my deck this summer I potted the Canna called ‘Sangria’, part of the Cabana Canna Collection from J. Berry Nursery. It looked fine and did well the whole summer. [below]
Bailey does not mention the use of canna in a container.
Rochester, NY seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) does however recommend it as the center plant in a large container. It is showy and people would see it from a distance.
Bailey seems to recommend it for beds. His book says, “Popular tall ornamental plants, prized for their stately habit, strong foliage and showy flowers; much used in bedding.”
Today we still enjoy this showy plant, whether in a container or in beds.