'Red King Humbert' is an historical Canna cultivar with an interesting parentage and historical story. In 1889, Pierre-Antoine-Marie Crozy, who had been hybridising Cannas at La Guillotière in Lyon since 1862 and who - more than anyone - was responsible for popularising modern Canna hybrids, introduced his most famous creation 'Madame Crozy'. It has large red flowers margined with gold and a yellowy-gold throat spotted with orange. Four years later, in 1893, Carl Ludwig Sprenger, working for Dammann & Cie at San Giovani Teduccio in Naples, crossed 'Madame Crozy' with the North American species Canna flaccida and from the resultant batch of selected seedlings created Canna 'Italia', with its yellow and red flowers which were significantly larger, inheriting from the C. flaccida parent the large labellum. He later recrossed 'Madame Crozy' with 'Italia' and the resultant F2 was Canna 'Roi Humbert', with maroon foliage and red flowers, and named after Umberto I, the then Italian king. The entire stock of 'Roi Humbert' was acquired by the French company, Vilmorin-Andrieux and Cie which at that time was a family run business but today, as Vilmorin, is the largest seed company in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. In the early years of the twentieth century 'Roi Humbert' become the most popular Canna cultivar in the world and was planted extensively on both sides of the Atlantic. It was in America that 'Roi Humbert' gave rise to the first known Canna chimera, named by Luther Burbank as Canna 'Yellow King Humbert', a somewhat variable cultivar, whose main form is large yellow flowers spotted with red. It was from the 'Yellow King Humbert' cultivar that the sport 'Red King Humbert' arose.
'Red King Humbert', with its bronzy-maroon and green leaf variegations is a stunning foliage Canna that is extremely handsome long before its exotic orangy-red flowers emerge in mid to late summer. Perhaps not surprisingly, with such a lineage, it is not the most stable cultivar and from time to time it produces flowers that do not always fit the type description. An essential addition to the tropical-look garden - valuable for its foliage alone - it manages to look stunning without looking garish or out of place, combining well with a large number of other plants. And you also get all that history ...
|Synonyms||Canna 'Out of Africa', Canna 'Ty Ty Red'|
|Geographical Origin||Horticultural origin.|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Lots of water in the growing season. Feed well.|
|Eventual Height||1.5-2 m|
|Eventual Spread||60 cm|
|Hardiness||Tender. Wait until frost cuts down the foliage then lift and store rhizomes until spring. Rhizomes should be kept moist but not wet over winter|
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