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Do Deer Eat Canna Lilies? (Somewhat Deer Resistant)

Do Deer Eat Canna Lilies? (Somewhat Deer Resistant)

One unique and significant feature of a canna lily plant is its large flowers. The flowers appear in different colors ranging from red to pink. These large flowers make them an outstanding choice when looking to beautify your garden. However, when you consider growing and caring for them, it is crucial to also consider the threat they face. So, do deer eat canna lilies?

This article clarifies the topic of deer and other animals eating canna lilies. You will also understand the best ways to care for this plant regarding physical and soil conditions.

Read: Do Deer Eat Azaleas?

Are Canna Lilies Deer-Resistant?

Canna lilies are not just vibrant and colorful but also deer resistant. These perennial flowers are on the list of plants deer would not eat when there are palatable options available. This plant rarely has attacks from deer. The hardy texture of the large flowers and leaves at maturity are reasons for this resistance.

But canna lilies are not safe from the teeth of a hungry deer. Hence, its resistance has its limitations. Standing canna lilies at the start of winter is susceptible to deer attacks because the animal food supply has significantly reduced. Hence there is a need for protection, especially at this time.

Do Rabbits Eat Canna Lilies?

Rabbits do not eat mature canna lilies because of their tough texture. Thus, at their mature stage, canna lilies are rabbit resistant. However, the young plant is susceptible to attack from this animal. Hence, if you have a rabbit, it is good to take special care of the plant at its early stage.

As the plants grow to maturity, it develops natural resistance to this plant.

Are Canna Lilies Invasive?

Canna lily has many exciting features that make it a top pick for any garden. However, it is an invasive species. Canna lilies can spread and fill the garden without proper care and maintenance. After a few years of planting, you might find that the garden has more canna lilies than expected. This act is due to their invasive nature.

Canna lilies’ invasive properties come from their underground stem system. Here is a fun fact: canna lilies have rhizomes, not bulbs. They are similar but have significant differences. Rhizomes are underground stems that can produce new shoots from their spread.

When you combine it with the fact that this plant species is perennial, it becomes easy for new shoots to develop at the start of a new flowering season. That way, the plant spreads across the yard and becomes invasive. However, there are ways to reduce the spread of canna lilies in the yard. It is one of its many caring tips.

Read: Do Deer Eat Acorns?

Caring for Canna Lilies

Caring would ensure they grow in the proper way. It allows you to preserve these perennial plants year after year. These caring tips are vital. Hence, it is advisable to follow the guide closely. They are as follows:


Canna lilies prefer proper exposure to sunlight if they are to bloom at maximum capacity. The large petals and the leaves all need sunlight. Under proper exposure, they become vibrant and shiny. With proper care, canna lilies can also thrive under partial sunlight. However, complete shade is not suitable for this colorful plant.


The level of organic matter in the soil is the primary criterion when looking for soil suitable for canna lilies’ growth. The plant can thrive in various soil types as long as there is high organic matter. It also prefers well-drained soil. This soil type does not hold too much water after watering or rainfall. Neutral or slightly acidic soil is the best for the rhizome growth to get the best result.


The watering system for canna lilies is typical for plants with rhizomes. There is a need to keep the water supply constant because of the underground stems. However, you should avoid making the soil soggy because it can aid the influence of bacteria and viruses, leading to rhizome rot. Watering once or twice a week is ideal, especially if the soil is well-drained.


Frost and freezing weather affect the growth of canna lilies. The plant thrives when the temperature is about 90°F. Anything lower can lead to rhizome death in the soil. This plant does well in tropical areas with high humidity and a warm environment.

Those living in colder climates can plant seeds or propagated stems in pots and control the temperature indoors. After weeks of proper growth or when the frost season is over, it is best to transfer the plant to a more suitable floor. 

It is also advisable for those living in colder areas to dig up canna rhizomes and keep them for another planting season. It is best to take this step before the first sight of frost and return the stem to the soil at the start of a new season.

Another method is to covet the plant during the frost season with a thick layer of mulch up to 4 or 12 inches. This insulation helps to keep the temperature at a level needed for rhizome survival during the frost.


Pruning is the most vital caring routine for your perennial canna lilies. Due to its invasive properties, this plant spreads and disturbs the growth of other flowers or crops in the garden. You should prune once in two or three years. Canna lilies propagate through underground stems, making the pruning steps slightly different.

The focus is on the stem, not the leaves. It is a process of dividing the canna lilies’ rhizomes and replanting them for a new season. Here are the steps involved:


Excavation is proper after the frost season. The plants gather nutrients at the start of spring for a new flowering season. This season is the best time for this step. Dig the soil around the canna lily and find the tail end of the stem. Continue to dig till you get to the middle stalk. Expose and remove the whole stem

Dividing the Stem

The next step is to clean off any dirt from the stem. After cleaning:

  1. Divide the stem into sizable pieces.
  2. Ensure that each rhizome cut has enough “eyes” for new growth.
  3. Remove excess stems and parts that are diseased or rotten.
  4. Wash the stem in water and let it sundry for up to two days.

Planting the New Stems

The last step is to plant the new cuts with a space of about 3 feet apart. These steps allow you to plant only in places where you want to have canna lilies in the garden. Sometimes, canna lilies might reappear at the old planting site due to incomplete excavation of the stem.



During the flowering season, you need to deadhead the flower continually. For most canna lilies, the flowering season is during summer when the plant is in the best environmental conditions for growth. While the flowers are often large and beautiful, they do not last long. Hence, the removal of dead flowers, known as deadheading, can help aid the growth of new flowers. So you have multiple flowering during this season.


Applying fertilizer helps to speed up the growth of this plant. The rhizomes need a lot of nutrients to function correctly. Fertilizer helps to balance any deficiency in the soil.

During summer, the blooming season, adding fertilizer twice a month is ideal. The fertilizer should be rich in phosphorus. It is best to use organic fertilizers. The start of planting season is another proper time to add fertilizer to the mix.

Will Canna Lilies Come Back After Deer Eat Them?

Canna lilies are vibrant plants that can survive an episode of deer attack. The apparent reason is the underground stem which is often unaffected by deer. New spikes can appear as long as the stem remains underground, and new leaves and flowers can develop.

It is easier for the plant if this happens during spring or early summer when the plant is active. Deer feeding during winter can affect the growth of the plant. However, as long as the rhizome remains alive, you can follow the care routine and keep it alive through the frost. It will grow back at the start of a new season.

How to keep Deer from Eating Canna Lilies?

Some extra protection tips help keep deer away from eating canna lilies. Add these tips to the natural resistance, and you can rest assured of proper growth for plants. These are some of the ways:

Add Other Deer-Resistant Plants

One way to keep deer away from your canna lilies is to fill the yard with other deer-resistant varieties. The good news is that there many other options on that list. Some other beautiful flowers include Begonias and Heliopsis.

The unavailability of suitable food will keep the deer away. Other deer-resistant plants with higher effectiveness include hairy or prickly plants. Plants with spikes also keep the animal away.

Add a Strong Scent to the Yard

Deer are sensitive to strange smells or scents. They tend to stay away from scents in sharp contrast to the leaves and shrubs they eat. You can use this to your advantage. Use repellant that has a distinct smell on or around the plant.

A straightforward example is the use of garlic repellant to spray the flowers every fortnight. Hanging bar soap in the garden can also create a scent that deer tend to avoid. All these help to create a no-deer zone in your garden.

Fun fact: deer also stay away from human scents. You can leave that on your farm too.

Bright Objects or Lights

Installation of bright objects like reflective metals can keep deer away during sunny days. Another protection tip is to install bright lights in the garden. This step is another way to ensure protection for your canna lilies.


Canna lilies have those large flowers with a vibrancy that beautifies the yard. They are also deer resistant. Two lovely reasons why they are a good option for your yard. However, they are invasive with their underground stem. No matter! With the proper pruning system, you can control the growth. Here are the pruning steps in summary:

  1. Dig up the horizontal stem at the start of spring
  2. Remove dirt from the stem
  3. Cut into pieces of at least 4 eyes
  4. Wash the pieces and remove rotten or diseased parts
  5. Replant on selected areas with proper spacing.

These pruning steps help to keep the growth in check. You get the flower you want in just the correct quantity.