Calla Lilies are a beautiful, easy-to-care-for flower that can add a touch of elegance to any garden. In this step-by-step guide, we will teach you everything there is to know about planting Calla Lilies, so whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, read on for all the information you need!
Calla Lilies are best planted in the Spring after all danger of frost has passed. They prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Calla Lilies can be planted in either full sun or partial shade. If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to plant Calla Lilies in a spot that gets some afternoon shade.
When it comes time to plant your Calla Lilies, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Gently loosen the roots and position the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
Once your Calla Lily is in place, fill in the hole and water deeply. Calla Lilies are drought tolerant once established, so you only need to water them weekly during the first growing season. For best results, you can fertilize Calla Lilies monthly with a balanced fertilizer during the first growing season.
With just a little care, Calla Lilies will grow beautiful flowers in your garden or container planting for many years!
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About the Calla Lily Plant
Zantedeschia aethiopica, commonly called calla lily, is a rhizomatous perennial native to South Africa. The Calla Lily flower prefers very moist environments, which explains why it grows well in swampy areas or soil with heavy organic matter. The Calla Lily grows best in regions with a minimum temperature of around 50º degrees F and mild climates.
Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia) are popular tropical plants for gardeners as they are easy to grow and add a rainbow of colors to your garden or landscape. Holland Bulb Farms note that they will grow in climate zones from 7 to 10 as they are a winter hardy plant. Calla Lilies are perennials, but they’ll typically only grow back as perennial flowers for zones 8-10.
Calla Lily Colorful “Flowers”
Interestingly, the colorful blooms of the Calla Lily aren’t actual flowers; they are modified leaves called a spathe.
Calla Lilies are excellent cut flowers, which make them a perfect addition to flower arrangements and bridal bouquets. They are easy to arrange and can last up to two weeks in a vase of water.
If you are looking for a new plant for your flower cutting garden Calla Lilly flowers come in many beautiful colors, including classic white (a favorite for wedding bouquets), yellow, orange, pink, rose, lavender, and dark maroon.
Calla Lilies “Bulbs” Are Actually Rhizomes
Many people think Calla Lilies are a type of lily because of their name. However, similar to daylilies, they grow from bulb-like seeds known as rhizomes and are not considered true lilies.
The rhizome of a calla lily is an underground stem that allows for new growth due to its nutrient storage abilities, as opposed to an actual root structure.
The surface of the rhizome is adorned with specialized buds, not unlike a potato tuber. Each one of these buds has the potential to blossom into a leaf or flower.
New sprouts are formed from buds and pushed upward towards the sun to produce thick leaves and blossoms. It is possible to have multiple sprouts from the same underground stem because each rhizome contains multiple buds.
Many buds may develop from a single underground stem since each rhizome has several buds.
According to Penn State Extension, there are several different types of bulbs that flowers can grow from, including:
All these are considered underground plant structures that store nutrients to help the plant survive winter/dormancy periods.
How to Plant Calla Lily Plants (A Step-by-Step Guide)
If you’ve been itching to learn about how to garden these elegant perennials, then you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about planting Calla Lilies.
Step 1: When to Plant Calla Lilies
For most parts of the country, the best time to plant Calla Lilies is in the early spring. It is best to wait until the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up to at least 65ºF.
Step 2: Find an Area Where They’re Going to Grow Best
Calla lilies can be planted directly into the earth or in a pot or container (make sure you plant them in a deep pot and don’t overcrowd them).
It’s important to ensure that you have well-draining soil that contains well-rotted compost, damp peat moss, cow manure, or bone meal.
Additionally, Calla Lilies like full sun to partial shade. If you live in warmer climates, you can get away with planting them in partial shade. However, if you live in cooler climates, you’ll want to be sure to plant them in full sun!
Step 3: Get Your Calla Lily Rhizomes Into the Ground
To plant your Calla Lilies, you’ll need to dig a hole 3-4 inches deep and place the rhizomes with the “eyes,” or growing tips pointed upward. In a garden bed, the rhizomes should be placed about 6 inches apart from the center but only need to be 4 inches apart in a container. Followed by covering the soil and watering them lightly. Water them sparingly until your plants grow a few leaves, after which you can begin to water more generously.
Continued Calla Lily Care
Watering Calla Lilies
As stated previously, Calla Lilies prefer to be kept in moist soil, so you must water them frequently, especially during hot weather or when they are planted in a very sunny location.
Once your Calla Lilies have begun sprouting their leaves, you must never allow the soil to dry out! Tip: Remember, if grown as container plants, they will dry out even faster than in the ground.
Fertilizing Calla Lilies
A general, all-purpose liquid fertilizer or a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer is all you need to keep your Calla Lilies healthy and blooming! While your Calla Lilies are still growing, you should be feeding them about once a month.
RELATED READING: The Best Fertilizer for Houseplants: Fish Emulsion
Once you notice flowers are starting to develop, fertilizing them more frequently will give them the boost they need for beautiful blooms!
When your Cala Lillies they’ve already bloomed, you no longer need to fertilize them.
Pro Tip: Watch out for darkening tips, as this can mean you’re over-fertilizing!
Lighting for Calla Lillies
Calla Lilies grow in full sun or partial shade. Full sun is best in cool summer areas, but part shade is preferred in hot summer areas.
Preparing Calla Lilies for Winter
As discussed earlier, depending on which hardiness zone you live in, you can either leave your bulbs over winter or you’ll want to pull the bulbs up and store them.
If you’re located in zone 8-10, they can stay in the ground, but ensure you follow these steps:
- Cease watering them after their growing season
- Once the first frost comes, and they’ve “died,” you can cut them all the way down to the ground
- Covering them with mulch and/or loose soil. (Gardening Know How notes that mulch will compost over time and provide them with the nutrients they need to begin blooming the spring again)
If you live in a Growing Zone below 8, you’ll want to dig up your calla lily bulbs and store them over the winter (or bring them inside if you potted them).
If you dug up the tubers, you’d want to store them in containers filled with peat moss until they’re ready to be planted again in the spring!
Additionally, if you live in a climate zone where your Calla Lilies can grow all year round (temperature doesn’t fall below 65º), you’ll still want to ensure they go through a period of dormancy.
Be sure to let them die (rest) for at least 2-3 months each year.
Calla Lilies FAQS
Q: How often should I water Calla Lilies?
A: Calla lilies like to be kept in moist soil, so you will need to water them frequently, especially during hot weather.
Once your Calla Lilies have begun sprouting their leaves, you must never allow the soil to dry out!
Q: How often should I fertilize Calla Lilies?
A: A general, all-purpose liquid fertilizer or a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer (recommended by Plant Care Today) is all you need to keep your Calla Lilies healthy and blooming!
While your Calla Lilies are still growing, you should be feeding them about once a month. Once you notice flowers are starting to develop, fertilizing them more frequently will give them the boost they need for beautiful blooms!
When your Calla Lilies bloom, you no longer need to fertilize them.
Q: What should I do with Calla Lilies in winter?
A: Depending on which hardiness zone you live in, you can either leave your bulbs over winter, or you’ll want to pull the bulbs up and store them.
If you’re located in warmer zones eight to ten, they can stay in the ground, but ensure you follow these steps: cease watering them after their growing season, after they’ve “died,” cut them all the way down to the ground, and covering them with mulch.
If you live in one of the colder zones below eight, you’ll want to dig up your calla lily bulbs and store them over the winter (or bring them inside if you potted them).
Additionally, if you live in a climate zone where your Calla Lilies can grow all year round (temperature doesn’t fall below 65º), you’ll still want to ensure they go through a period of dormancy by letting them die (rest) for at least two to three months each year. Digging them up in early fall before the weather conditions get too cold is easiest.
Q: What are the most common problems with Calla Lilies?
A: The most common problems Calla Lilies face are aphids, slugs, spider mites, and snails. Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that suck the sap out of calla lily leaves and stems, which can cause the plant to become stunted or deformed.
To get rid of aphids, you can blast them off with a strong stream of water from your hose, or you can try an insecticidal soap.
Slugs and snails love calla lily leaves, and they can quickly decimate a plant if left unchecked. The best way to get rid of slugs and snails is to handpick them off your Calla Lilies (put them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them), or you can try a commercial slug and snail bait.
Q: What are Calla Lilies poisonous too? Are Calla Lilies toxic for pets?
A: Calla lilies are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested, so it’s important to keep them out of reach if you have small children or pets.
All parts of the calla lily plant are poisonous, but the bulbs contain the highest concentration of toxins.
Symptoms of calla lily poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect your child or pet has ingested a calla lily, call your doctor or veterinarian immediately.
Q: What is the best way to transplant Calla Lilies?
A: The best way to transplant Calla Lilies is in the spring after they have finished blooming. When you are ready to transplant them, dig up the bulbs and replant them immediately in a new location.
Be sure to water them well and keep them moist until they are established in their new home.
You can also divide calla lily bulbs in the spring to create more plants. To do this, simply dig up the bulbs and carefully divide them into smaller sections, ensuring each section has a few roots attached. Replant the divisions immediately and water well.
If you follow these simple steps, you will be well on your way to enjoying a beautiful calla lily garden of your own! Do you have any tips for planting Calla Lilies that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Happy planting!