It was love at first sight, even though I didn't like canna lilies and preferred softer colors in my garden.
Softer colors? I reminded myself that pastels wash out to nothingness in the hot Alabama sun. I looked at the plant in front of me. Tropicana Canna Lily looked very suited to my subtropical climate. Its name declared it so. I studied the price tag. It cost too much, so I left the nursery without it. But I couldn't stop thinking about it and later returned to buy it.
I love Tropicana because of its bold foliage, which can reach four to six feet in height. It is what it is, without apology. It is as loud as a fire truck.
Tropicana's foliage has purple, orange, and blue-green stripes that glow when backlit by the sun, and it holds its orange blossoms aloft like bright torches. Mine has just put out its first bloom of the season.
Tropicana is hardy to zone 7, but it may survive outdoors in zones 5 to 6 if planted deep enough to escape the frozen earth. In colder climates the rhizomes need to be dug and stored inside for the winter. It does best in slightly acid to neutral, moist but well drained soil and may spread rapidly in ideal conditions. I planted mine in full sun, close to a water hose. It can also tolerate some shade. I have divided the clump several times. I now have Tropicana growing in several locations and have had plenty to give away to friends.
Tropicana's main pest is the Brazilian skipper butterfly, a little brown butterfly with diamond shaped markings in shades of white and gray on its wings. The caterpillars roll up the leaves and feed on them. The plant also will begin to look tattered if it lacks fertilizer or moisture. I usually water it when I fill the nearby bird feeder, and that keeps it happy. The birds like this plant too, and I have seen them eating its blossoms. That doesn't bother me.
If deadheaded, Tropicana will usually sprout new blooms, right up till fall. Deadhead them by clipping the old blooms at the end of the stalk. The stalk will soon send out new blooms.