Q: I am a new gardener and planted three canna lilies this spring. When the old bloom died away a group of black pods took its place. They are round with points coming out of them. If these are seeds and next year I would like a bigger grouping of canna lilies, what do I do with them?
A: You certainly have canna seed in the pods. They are pea-sized, black and extremely hard. In fact, an old name for canna was “Indian Shot Lily” because the seed could supposedly be used for bullets. You can collect them and plant them immediately or save them until until next April. They will best germinate and make new plants if the hard seed coat is partially scraped off. The easiest way to do this is to rub each seed gently on a piece of sandpaper. You don’t have to remove the whole coat – just rub it off in a couple of places.
Once the seeds are “scarified” put them in a pot of warm water and allow the seeds and water to cool overnight. In this way the seeds will be “primed” and made ready to sprout after you plant them in your garden. Leaves should appear in four weeks. They might be mature enough to bloom the following year. By the way, if you don’t want to collect more seed, make a habit of removing flowers when they fade. This will encourage the plant to put up secondary blooming shoots.