How to grow calla lilies

How to grow calla lilies

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Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.), with their dramatic cup-shaped blooms, are used in many summertime gardens. Their light requirements are not specific, and they can be planted in sun as well as shade. Winter hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and 10, they can be grown either outdoors or in containers.


The best-known calla lily is the white calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), which is considered a weed in Africa but is widely grown in American gardens for its white bloom. Hybrid types (Zantedeschia hybrida) often have colored blooms instead of white, and are available in hues ranging from yellow, pink and cream to dramatic shades of red and purple. Other species, such as Zantedeschia ailanthoides, offer cultivars such as 2-foot-tall “Pink Persuasion.” Calla lilies bloom on leafless stalks rising above stemless leaves that grow from underground rhizomes.

Light Requirements

Calla lilies prefer full sun or part shade, though their blooms will be less impressive in shaded conditions. In areas where summers are long and hot, calla lilies often do better in partially shaded environments where they can get a break from afternoon sun. In cooler environments, they tolerate full sunlight well. They can also be grown in containers and overwintered outside their hardiness zone, as long as they are placed in a bright, sunny window during the cooler months.


Calla lilies are very tolerant of moisture and can be grown in wet soil or even under a foot of water at the edge of a pond or stream. Outside their hardiness zones you should dig up the rhizomes and store them until planting again in springtime. White calla lily is the hardiest of the calla lilies, and is winter hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10. They are susceptible to both soft rot, especially in poorly drained environments, and aphids, especially when grown indoors. Propagate by division of rhizomes or planting seed.

Garden Uses

Calla lilies are commonly used in borders or beds on dry ground or grown in baskets or in mud at the edges of ponds or in water features. They may also be grown as houseplants or in containers transitioned from outside during colder months. Calla lilies contain mild skin irritants, and contact with sap can cause a reaction.

How to grow calla lilies

Although not considered true lilies, the calla lily (Zantedeschia sp.) is an extraordinary flower. This beautiful plant, available in a multitude of colors, grows from rhizomes and is ideal for use in beds and borders. You can also grow calla lilies in containers, either outdoors or in a sunny window as houseplants. Here are a few tips on growing calla lilies that will make them sparkle in your yard.

Tips on Growing Calla Lilies

It is easy to grow calla lilies. These plants do not generally require too much attention. Proper planting and location are about the only important things to consider when growing calla lilies. Care of calla lilies requires that they be planted in loose, well-drained soil. They prefer to be located in full sun or partial shade in warmer climates. Calla lilies are typically planted in the spring. However, wait until the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently before planting calla lilies.

Calla lilies should be planted rather deep, about 4 inches (10 cm.) for greater results, and spaced approximately a foot (0.5 m.) apart. Once planted, the area should be watered well. Calla lilies enjoy being kept moist and will also benefit from a monthly dose of fertilizer throughout the growing season.

Calla Lilies Care

As with planting, there’s not too much required for the care of calla lilies other than keeping them watered and fertilized. An adequate layer of mulch around the plants will help keep the area moist and free of weeds. Calla lilies require a dormant period once flowering has ceased. During this time, you should refrain from watering as much to allow the plant to die back.

If you grow calla lilies in containers, cease watering and move the plant to a dark area once the foliage has faded. Regular watering can resume within two to three months. Although calla lilies can remain in the ground year-round in warmer climates, they should be lifted and stored in cooler areas.

Care of Calla Lilies Over Winter

Dig up the rhizomes in autumn, usually after the first frost, and shake off any soil. Allow them to dry out for a few days before storing the rhizomes for winter. Calla lilies should be stored in peat moss and located in a cool, dry area, preferably dark, until warmer temperatures return in spring. Likewise, you can choose to start your calla lilies indoors during late winter and transplant them outside in spring. Calla lilies can also be divided when lifted or during their dormancy period.

Growing calla lilies is easy and calla lilies care is minimal at best. Choosing to grow calla lilies in the garden or as houseplants is a great way to add color to any area. These tips on growing calla lilies will help you enjoy these lovely flowers even more.

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How to grow calla lilies

How to Grow and Care for Calla Lilies in Containers

How to grow calla lilies

Intro: Calla lily flowers, also called trumpet lilies or Lily of the Nile, most often have waxy-white flowers that gracefully twist and curl, ending in a delicate point. Calla lily flowers can also come in pink, orange or red, and the dark green, heart-shaped foliage can also be variegated with white spots. Calla lily plants are native to marshlands of South Africa but have gained popularity in gardens in the United States as marginal pond plants and container plants. It is a popular flower for weddings and Easter, and cut calla lily flowers last a long time in floral displays. The calla lily grows to 2 feet tall and can be grown in plant containers, and there are also miniature calla lily varieties that you can keep.

Scientific Name: Zantedeschia aethiopica

Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial flower

Light: The calla lily flower requires part shade (full sun in cooler climates).

Water: Keep the calla lily flower’s potting soil damp at all times (but not too wet, as the plant’s bulb may rot). Dark leaf tips may mean you are overwatering (see “Tips for Watering Plants” for more information). After the calla lily has flowered and begins to die back, stop watering so the bulb can dry out and be stored until the next growing season.

Fertilizer: Fertilize your calla lily with a bulb fertilizer monthly. Stop fertilizing once the calla lily plant has bloomed. If the foliage has dark tips, you may be adding too much fertilizer.

Temperature: If you live in a cooler climate, such as the Pacific Northwest, you can grow Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough,’ which can tolerate cooler (but not cold) temperatures in outside balcony container gardens. In cold climates, overwinter the calla lily plant container indoors to keep it blooming year-round. If you do not have space indoors, dig up its bulbs after the plant has died back in the fall and save the bulbs for the next growing season.

Pests and Diseases: Kill any small insect pests on your calla lily with insecticide soap or spray safe for plants. The calla lily flower is susceptible to several diseases, such as rhizome rot, bacterial soft rot, gray mold and some viruses.

Propagation: Grow the calla lily plant from bulbs. Dig bulbs from the ground after the plant has died back in the fall (divide the bulb to get more plants). Plant dried calla lily bulbs 3 inches deep with the foliage pointing upward. After planting, the calla lily will bloom in about three months. You can also propagate calla lilies by growing them from seed.

Misc. Info: Provide the best care for your calla lily by keeping it in well-draining, loose potting soil, and add coffee grounds to the calla lily’s plant container to make the soil more acidic. Although this container plant can live year-round when in appropriate climates, allow it to die back for about two months each year. This will allow your calla lily flower to rest and come back with better blooms in the next growing season (it may not even bloom in its first year). During the rest period, you can dig up and store the tubers or keep them in dry potting soil.

The calla lily gets its name from its old scientific name. This flower used to be classified in the Calla genus, but that genus has been split up, and the calla lily flower is now in the Zantedeschia genus.

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When planting calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), choosing the right depth is an important first step in establishing a healthy plant. These herbaceous perennials produce bulbous rhizome roots. The large, white flowers bloom in summer on fleshy, green stalks. Calla lilies grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Plant calla lilies in a moist garden bed or grow this water-loving plant in ponds and stream beds.

Garden Planting Depth

You may have found your calla lilies for sale in a garden center or online, often as dormant rhizomes, which look like bulbs. Plant calla lily rhizomes 4 to 6 inches deep in a full sun or part shade garden bed in spring. Larger rhizomes should be planted deep enough so the top of the rhizome is 2 inches below the soil’s surface.

Calla lily roots have growing points where new shoots grow from. At planting time, lay the rhizome in the planting hole horizontally. Make sure the long, feeder roots are at the bottom of the hole and the growing points are at the top.

Pond Planting Depth

To plant calla lilies in water, scoop out a hole in the mud and position the rhizomes in the mud with the growing points facing up. You can plant calla lilies in water up to 12 inches deep. As an alternative planting method for ponds, grow calla lilies in heavy containers and sink the containers into the water at the edge of the pond or stream. This makes it easier to reposition the plants and in cold climates, lift and store them for the winter in a shed or garage where temperatures remain above freezing.

Calla Lilies in Pots

Calla lilies make good container plants outside or indoors as long as you keep them thoroughly damp, says White Flower Farm. Use a high-quality potting mix and soak it well before planting. The potting mix should be slightly muddy. Use the same planting depth, 4 to 6 inches, as you would when planting out in the garden.

Calla lily care indoors is similar to outdoors. Indoors or outside, containers dry out much faster than garden soil, so check the soil moisture often in hot weather and sunny areas. Pots made from plastic, metal or glazed clay hold moisture better than pots made from porous material, like wood or unglazed clay.

Keep your calla lilies out of reach of children and pets. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which cause intense burning pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing and vomiting when chewed on or eaten, according to the ASPCA.

Calla Lily Spacing and Care

To create a full, lush stand of calla lilies without overcrowding the plants, space them 12 to 18 inches apart in garden beds, ponds and planters. Calla lilies grow in full sun to part shade and require consistently damp or wet soil. This plant is perfect for boggy areas where other plants tend to rot.

In frost-prone areas, the top growth will die back in winter and regrow in spring. Cover the calla lily bed with a thick layer of loose mulch to protect the rhizomes from freezing temperatures. When growing callas in climates lower than zone 8, dig up the rhizomes and store them for the winter in damp peat moss or plant in flowerpots and put them in a sunny window, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. In frost-free climates, calla lilies grow outside year-round.

The calla lily grows from a type of bulb called a rhizome and produces very large green leaves, typically covered with lighter-colored spots. The flower blooms from the top of a rather thick stem and sort of resembles trumpet shaped rolled paper. The calla lily belongs to the same family as caladium and jack-in-the-pulpit. Although it is called a lily, this plant is not really a lily. Calla lilies are quite easy to grow and make a spectacular addition to the home or garden. They are also very popular choices for bridal bouquets and cut flower arrangements. The calla lily is a very hardy and strong genus that will grow in more or less any soil as long as the climate is humid enough.

When to Plant your Calla Lily Bulbs

Although calla lilies are known as ‘spring bulbs,’ in tropical climates or USDA zones 8-10, calla lilies thrive outdoors year-round. They can be planted at any time! In other areas, they can be planted when temperatures rest higher than 55 degrees F (below 55 degrees, calla lilies stop growing). Just make sure that there is no danger of frost or of temperatures dropping below 55 degrees in the first 12 weeks after planting.

Where to Plant your Calla Bulb

Plant the calla bulbs in full sun or partial shade (the partial shade location is best in warmer climates so as not to stress the delicate calla). When choosing a location for planting, it should be taken into consideration that calla lilies average between 1 and 3 feet high and have a diameter of approximately 1 to 1 1/2 feet when fully grown.

How to Plant your Calla Bulbs

Before planting, it is important to properly prepare the soil; Adding mulch to the soil will help maintain a constant soil temperature. This will help keep the plant stress-free. Mulch will also improve the texture of the soil and help hold in valuable moisture. Calla lilies thrive in well-drained, loose soil. Once the soil has been prepared, they should be planted at a depth of approximately 2 inches with the developing foliage pointing upwards. Calla lilies need 1 to 1½ feet of growing space between each plant. After planting, thoroughly water the bulbs. It is important to keep the soil evenly moist but not soaked. Depending on the variety, soil temperature, and weather conditions, you can expect calla lilies to begin blooming within 60 to 90 days.

How to Care for your Calla Bulbs

The calla lilies as most other bulbs, spread by producing even more bulbs. These bulbs can be dug up, and replanted in another location. In tropical climates (zones 8-10), calla lilies can be left in the ground over winter without trouble. In other areas, lift the bulbs before the first frost, clean off excess soil, let dry out of the direct sun for a few days, then store in a dry location that remains between 50 and 60 degrees F. Re-plant in spring after the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.

How to grow calla lilies

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Calla lilies (Zantedeschia species) are not true lilies, but they are graceful, sensual, suggestive and exotic. They are related to jack-in-the-pulpit and grow from tuber-like rhizomes. Their serene beauty evokes a sense of tranquility and elegance, and many gardeners are shocked to learn how easy it is to grow these plants outside.

“>All About Calla Lilies

Calla lilies look a little like a lily, but true lilies like the Easter lily have large blossoms that are actually flowers, with six large petals. The large floral display a calla offers is not even a true flower but rather a modified leaf (called a spathe). The spathe wraps around the plant’s tiny orange flowers crowded together on the central spike.

Calla cultivars offer a variety of spathe colors, from standard ivory to orange, pink and yellow. A spring-planted plant develops spathes and flowers in mid to late summer, and they last for weeks. You’ll see flowers much sooner in areas where callas are hardy, in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.

The calla lily plant grows to 3 feet tall and almost as wide with very large, glossy, arrow-shaped leaves. You can find varieties with foliage that is bronze, purple, burgundy, bright green, dark green or even multicolored.

“>Planting and Caring for Callas

To grow callas outdoors, plant the rhizome 4 inches deep and with tips facing up after the last spring frost. Select a location with porous, well-draining soil, picking a sunny site in cooler climates but a partial-shade site in warmer regions. Water whenever the soil is dry, taking care not to overwater.

Fertilizer is not required if the soil is fertile or enriched with organic compost before planting. Excess nitrogen gives you gorgeous foliage but less flowers.

Expect your calla to flower for a couple of months. After the plant finishes flowering, allow the foliage to stay in place as long as it is healthy. When it starts to decline or is hit by a frost, prune it down to ground level.

“>Overwintering Calla Lilies

In zones 8 through 10 where calla lilies are hardy, gardeners can leave the rhizomes in the ground to bloom again the following summer. In this situation, the rhizomes will grow large, and you may need to divide them every few years.

If callas are not hardy in your region, you can:

  • Replant new ones the next year
  • Cover the area with thick mulch and hope for the best
  • Dig up the rhizomes and try overwintering them indoors.

To accomplish the latter, dig up the rhizomes and prune off all foliage other than an inch of stem. Cure them in a warm, dry space for a few days and then store them in a box with damp peat moss for the winter.

Pest and Disease Problems

Like other plants, calla lilies are subject to attack by fungal diseases like botrytis and powdery mildew. Avoid this by keeping plant foliage dry and making sure the plants have good air circulation. Use fungicide to treat these issues.

Some diseases, including bacterial soft rot, root rot and viral diseases cannot be easily treated. Your best bet is to pull out the infected plants and burn or discard them.

For aphids, those little rounded bugs that suck plant juices, encourage predator insects like lady beetles and wasps. Alternatively, use a strong water spray to wash them off. The hose also works to wash off spider mites that leave webs on the plants. You can also use insecticidal soap for spider mites and whiteflies.

by High Country Gardens

How to grow calla lilies Calla Lily Flame

How to Grow Calla Lilies: Planting & Care Instructions

Summer blooming, calla lilies are easy to grow, low care, and will fill your summers with elegant blooms.Learning how to grow Calla Lilies is a gift that never stops giving.

Butterflies and hummingbirds love the pollen found on the yellow central finger-like structure – it’s actually the true flower. Rabbit and deer avoid these plants and so should your dogs and cats, as they are poisonous if ingested.

While not considered a true lily, the calla lily brings a unique look to a garden bed. Try planting ‘Nashville’ in front of ornamental grasses or as a striking centerpiece amongst the smaller Echinacea, Salvia, Allium and other summer bloomers. We recommend planting 3 bulbs/rhizomes within a square foot area. This will give you a striking effect of blooms and foliage. Well-placed, your lily planting should yield many flowers for both cutting and garden enjoyment.

How to Grow Calla Lilies: Important Tips

To plant in spring, be sure all danger of frost is past. Native to southern Africa, callas like it warm and won’t grow happily until the soil has warmed up a bit.

Be sure your spot has good drainage and enrich with compost, organic fertilizer and some bone meal.

Plant bulbs (they look like a ginger root or gladiolus bulb) so that the pointed eyes or growing points face up and the top of the bulb is about 2 inches below the soil level. Water well and water as needed to keep soil moist as the plant gets established.

How to Grow Calla Lilies: After Season Care

Feel free to cut flowers, it won’t hurt the plant. Once blooming is finished for the season, leave the leaves intact. They will continue to feed the bulbs until they yellow.

If you live in zones 8-11, your callas will rest for several months before beginning another season. If you live in zones 3-7, dig your bulb/rhizomes after the first frost. Let them air dry for several days and then store them in a cool (not freezing), dark place in paper bags, ready to replant when winter’s chill has departed.

Calla lilies are also happy planted in containers as they don’t mind being root bound. Plant as above, keeping in mind, that you can get a jump start on blooms by starting them indoors.

A season with calla lilies reminds us of why they were favorite subjects for artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Diego Rivera. Calla lilies inspire, blushed with color they remind us of the piercing beauty of simplicity.

Quick facts

Canna and calla lilies grow well in hot sites throughout Minnesota. Though the names are similar, the plants are not that similar, and neither is an actual lily!

Cannas and calla lilies are not hardy in Minnesota, but can be grown as annuals, houseplants or their rhizomes may be overwintered inside.

Cannas and calla lilies come in many different flower colors and leaf types, and make a dramatic statement in the garden.

Calla lilies

Calla lilies or callas (Zantedeschia species) are not true lilies. They are related to jack-in-the-pulpit and caladium. Unlike jack-in-the-pulpit, they are not hardy in Minnesota. The tuber-like rhizomes must be dug up and stored inside over the winter.

Callas have a broad, trumpet-shaped flower called a spathe that wraps around the finger-like spadix. The spathe is actually a modified leaf and may be white, yellow, peach, orange, red, pink, purple or bicolored. The spadix holds the tiny, true flowers. Its leaves are arrowhead-shaped and solid green or green with silver or white flecks.

Zantedeschia aethiopica, the white calla, is native to Africa where it is considered a weed. The flowers can be quite large, with a spathe up to 10 inches long and a yellow spadix. It has also become naturalized in warm parts of the U.S., such as in California, where it is an invasive species. Because it is not hardy in Minnesota, invasiveness is generally not a concern here.

Callas may be grown as houseplants, in a sunny location, but for the best results, plant callas outside and enjoy them indoors as cut flowers. They should bloom mid to late summer for about a month.