Canna lily (Canna indica)

Canna lily is a garden escape particularly in frost-free areas. It has vigorous underground stems.


How does this weed affect you?

Canna lily is an environmental weed in NSW and south eastern Queensland. It can form large dense clumps, particularly along waterways, and replaces native species. 

What does it look like?

Canna lily is a clumping plant up to 2 m tall. The leaves are up to 45 cm long and 25 cm wide. Flowers may be red or yellow or occasionally red with yellow spots or yellow with red spots. The fruit is a papery, oval capsule up to 3 cm long.

Where is it found?

In NSW canna lily is a weed in the North Coast, Hunter, Central Tablelands, South East and Greater Sydney regions.

It is native to Central and South America. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Canna lily grows best in moist environments such as the edges of wetlands and waterways. It does not tolerate frost. 

How does it spread?

Canna lily spreads by seed and vegetatively via its thick, branching rhizomes (underground stems). Seed can be spread by birds that eat the fruit, flowing water and by people dumping garden waste. 


PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 23 January 2023 from

Richardson FJ, Richardson RG and Shepherd RCH (2006). Weeds of the south-east an identification guide for Australia. RG and FJ Richardson, Melbourne.

More information

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Successful weed control requires follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings.

Hand weeding

Young plants may be dug out. Ensure that all of the rhizome is removed. It is difficult to remove large infestations as plants can regrow from small rhizome fragments left in the soil.


Contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of this weed. 

Chemical control


Spray actively growing plants. Ensure that all of the foliage is covered. 

Cut and paint

Prune all shoots horizontally at the rhizome and use and  apply a 3-5 mm layer of herbicide gel across the cut surface on the rhizome. If there are more than four rhizomes between shoots, drill a 10 mm hole into every fourth rhizome from a shoot, 80 percent the depth of the rhizome, and fill the hole with the herbicide gel. 

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 50 parts water
Comments: Spot spay. Apply as foliar application. Spray regrowth after slashing.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Prune all of the shoots horizontally at the rhizome then apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel across the cut surface on the rhizome.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2024