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Achira

Canna edulis

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Leafy perennial herb that grows up to 3m in height with large fleshy leaves arising from edible, underground rhizomes. Attractive bright red to orange flowers are followed by warty seed capsules bearing hard, round, black seeds. Some varieties sterile and without seed.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Autumn

Harvesting

Both the flowers and the rhizomes can be harvested. The pretty red flowers can be cut for flower arrangements and the rhizomes are edible, both raw and cooked. Ground rhizomes can also be used in baking and are a good source of starch. Pick the leafy shoots while young during the growing season.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds 2-5 cm deep. Germination takes 3-9 weeks. The seed has a hard case that should be presoaked in warm water for 24hrs or scratched to encourage moisture penetration and germination. Some plants sterile and produce no seeds.
Division
Divide the root clump in the spring. Each portion must have at least one growing point. Pot up the divisions and grow them on in the greenhouse until they are strong enough to be outside.
Rhizomes
Underground rhizome quickly multiply and can be divided after flowering and replanted.

Special features

Hedge plant
Make a green wall when planted close together.

Geography

Origin
South America to the West Indies.
Natural climate
Tropical and Sub-tropical climates

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Dry
Soil type
Loam
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Notes
Ornamental. Culinary.

Personality

Family
Cannaceae
Flower colour
Red or orange.
Scent
None

Problems

Achira is generally not bothered by pests or diseases.

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