Calla Lily Flower – Essential Care, Growing, Watering, Blooming, Propagation Guide

Growing a plant in your backyard or garden has a lot of health benefits, as it boosts your mood and increases your exposure to Vitamin D. But whether you have the suitable outdoor space to grow your plants or need to start an indoor garden, you can still plant the beautiful calla lily flower. 

This easy-to-grow and maintain plant can be an excellent choice for a gardening enthusiast or a first-time gardener because it grows fast, producing beautiful flowers. 

And in this article, we’ll talk in detail about growing and taking care of the calla lily flower. So, keep on reading to learn more about it. 

A single, white calla lily flower

The Calla Lily Flower Overview

Originally native to Southern Africa, the calla lily flower is one of the least picky choices when it’s planted outdoors or indoors, as it quickly adapts to multiple growing conditions. This is why it’s one of the most popular ornamental plants, as it will add color and life to your space with the least effort. 

Calla lilies are evergreen perennials that grow in USDA zones 8 to 10, as they favor the warm weather. These flowers are also usually seen growing along the banks of rivers and streams in the Southern USA. 

If you live in Northern USA, you can grow calla lilies in your garden during the summer months. However, they will have to be dug out of the ground and stored to be planted in the following year because this plant doesn’t withstand the cold. 

This is why calla lilies make great potted plants. They can be planted all year long inside the house, or you can keep the pot outside during summer and bring it inside when the temperature drops. It’s an excellent choice for creating borders in your garden or for adding color to your flower beds. 

They have a thick underground stem or a rhizome, which is fleshy and branched. The leaves are usually triangular or pointy and of various lengths, and they can be solid green or speckled. When grown, the plant can be between 12 to 36 inches tall and between 9 to 24 inches wide. 

The flowers can be white, which is the original color, but several hybrids can be whitish-pink, orange, red, purple, yellow, gold-yellow cream, or lemon. Florists and homeowners favor these flowers as they add color to cut flower arrangements. The plant also grows some orange or red berries, but they’re not edible. 

Despite the name, these flowers aren’t really lilies and don’t belong to the same family. They just look like them, and this is how they got the name. 

Why Should You Grow Calla Lily Flowers?

Although they originate in Africa, calla lily flowers are quite popular in lots of European and American homes for several reasons. 

  • Calla lilies are easy to cultivate. They don’t need much care and will bloom for long. However, in some areas, these flowers are considered invasive because their seeds are spread by birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. 
  • These flowers come in a wide range of colors. The original species are bright white or cream with hints of yellow or pink, but there are other hybrids that come in more attractive colors like orange and red. Their foliage has an interesting pointed shape and bright green color, so they’ll look interesting even before they bloom. 
  • Thanks to their bright colors, planting calla lilies is an excellent way to add life and color to your outdoor or indoor landscape. 
  • Calla lilies start to grow shoots only a couple of months after being planted and begin to bloom right after that. Therefore, compared to other flowering plants, calla lilies bloom for a longer period. 
  • Calla lilies can grow inside or outside the house. When grown in pots, it’s easy to move them around to ensure they’re getting enough sunlight to bloom for the most extended period. 
  • Calla lily flowers look fascinating in cut flower arrangements. When kept in a vase, they can last for up to 10 days. It’s essential to add fresh water every day and cut the ends of the stems to remove bacterial buildup to help these flowers last for long. 

The Right Conditions to Plant Calla Lily Flowers

Two white calla lily flowers against a black background

Calla lilies can be treated as annuals or perennials, depending on where they’re planted. These flowers usually bloom in spring and announce that the Easter season is starting soon, although some species bloom in summer and fall. 

These colorful flowers usually bloom for about 8 weeks, so they’ll make a great addition to your outdoor or indoor space. And because they’re easy to plant and aren’t that challenging to establish, they’re suitable for first-time gardening enthusiasts. Here are the planting requirements of the calla lily flowers. 

Zones

Calla lilies are grown from zones 3 to 10, but they bloom better in warmer regions. In USDA zones 8. 9, and 10, calla lily flowers are perennials and can be grown inside or outside the house. In colder climates, these flowers grow as annuals. 

In colder climates, they need access to bright sunlight to help the flowers bloom. In some cases, the foliage will grow, but the flowers might not be able to bloom because the plant isn’t receiving sunlight. 

Planting Time

Choosing the best planting time depends on where you’re planning to grow your calla lilies. Calla lilies can be planted in December in a warmer zone, as long as you’re providing them with partial sunlight exposure if you’re growing them in an indoor pot. You can also keep the pot inside until the last frost and then transfer the plant to an outdoor flower bed or plant it in the ground. 

If you’re living in a colder zone, you need to wait until the last frost has passed and then plant your calla lilies. Planting these flowers between February and June is best to help them. Late planting will guarantee that the flowers will bloom later in the fall, as long as they get enough sunlight. 

Sunlight

Indirect sunlight is best to grow calla lilies in warmer climates. In colder climates, it’s best to expose these flowers to bright and direct sunlight. 

When calla lilies don’t get enough sunlight, the number of blooming buds decreases, and the flowers might not bloom. Too much sunlight can also scorch the plant’s leaves and flowers. 

Temperature and Humidity

In their natural habitat, calla lily flowers thrive in hot and humid conditions, so you need to make sure that the growing conditions provide enough heat and moisture to keep these plants in perfect health. 

When grown outside, calla lilies should be protected from the scorching noon sun because it can burn the leaves and prevent the flowers from blooming. If you’re planting these plants in a flower bed or in the ground, you should plant them under a taller plant to provide shade. 

You can also plant calla lilies next to a pond or near a waterbody on your property. They grow best when the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When grown inside the house, using a humidifier will be an excellent choice because it will provide these flowers with the needed moisture. Misting indoor and outdoor calla lilies is an excellent idea. 

Blooming Time

Whether they’re planted from rhizomes that you’ve kept from the previous season or planting for the first time, the shoots start to appear after two months of planting, as long as you provide the plant with the needed sunlight and water. 

With enough food, water, and sunlight, calla lily flowers start to bloom after the foliage has grown. They stay in bloom for two months in summer or fall, which is quite impressive compared to other flowering plants. 

Soil

Calla lilies prefer well-drained moist soil. Clay soil doesn’t work for growing these plants, but sandy soil can work if you add the needed food. The soil shouldn’t be too alkaline and slightly acidic because it will kill the leaves and stun the foliage. 

Watering

Calla lilies’ watering needs depend on the growing stage. When they’re first planted, you need to water them sparingly until the shoots start to appear. 

Overwatering calla lilies will cause the rhizomes to rot because these flowers don’t prefer soggy soil. After the shoots appear, you need to water the calla lilies more often. 

As the temperature drops, start to water your calla lilies less often to help the plant get into dormancy. Then, allow the plant to dry completely before storing the rhizomes for another season. 

Pruning

Calla lilies don’t need much pruning, and cutting off the dead flowers or deadheading the plant won’t harm it. As a matter of fact, this protects the plant’s internal energy and encourages more blooming. 

Use sterilized pruning shears to cut the stems just below the base of the flowers. At the end of the growing season, cut the plant to soil level to prepare it to go dormant. 

Three white calla lilies in a pot on a fence

Planting Calla Lily Flowers Tips and Tricks

Calla lily flowers are easy to grow, so they’ll work for you if you’re a first-time gardener or don’t have much experience with growing indoor and outdoor plants. Here are the steps to grow them. 

  • Start by picking plump and firm rhizomes to grow calla lilies. Bigger rhizomes are healthier, so they’ll result in a bigger plant with more and brighter flowers. A rhizome that’s 5 or 6 inches long is better and will lead to better results. 
  • Choose the best location to grow your calla lilies. They’ll grow best in direct sunlight in cooler areas or partial shade during the hottest months. 
  • When grown outside, the soil should be well-drained, rich, and moist to resemble the growing conditions where these flowers originally grow. A rich potting mix should also be used if you’re growing calla lilies in a pot. 
  • Make sure that there’s enough organic matter in your soil before planting the calla lilies. These plants will work best to border ponds or lakes on your property. However, some species can also be grown in water, up to 12 inches deep, and in this case, you should use rich aquatic compost and a suitable planting basket.
  • Plant your calla lilies at the right time. In USDA zones 3 to 7, it’s best to plant these flowers in spring and store them in winter to be planted in the following spring. However, in zones 8 to 10, these flowers are winter hardy. 
  • Place the rhizomes with their growing tips facing up, and cover them with soil and water. 
  • For the best results, you can plant the rhizomes first indoors before the last frost until they grow strong. The growing plants can then be transferred outside to bloom when the temperature is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Plant the rhizomes at least 12 inches apart to give them room to grow. They should also be at least 4 inches deep. In flowering beds, the distance between rhizomes can be about 6 inches apart. 
  • Water the rhizomes as needed, keeping the soil moist without overwatering your plant. Water the calla lilies sparingly until the first leaves emerge, and then start to water more regularly to help the flowers bloom. 

It usually takes a couple of weeks for the first shoots to appear. The calla lilies start to flower later and stay in bloom for as long as two months, depending on the species and the growing conditions. 

  • Calla lilies should be fed every two to four weeks with a liquid fertilizer to keep the flowers in bloom for the longest period. Indoor calla lily flowers will need more food, especially if you’re planning to plan the rhizomes one more time. 
  • Use mulch in fall with compost or manure to maintain the richness of the soil. 
  • Pull the semi-open flowers if you need flowers for cut arrangements. They can last for up to 10 days or two weeks in a vase. 

How to Care for Calla Lilies In Winter

Caring for the Calla lilies depends on where you’re growing them. If you’re planting these flowers in a warm climate, they can be left in the ground as they’re treated as perennials. However, it’s best to plant them every few years to keep them blooming. 

Regardless of the zone, if you’re growing calla lilies in a pot, you should bring the plant inside during winter to protect the rhizomes. In this case, the leaves will grow in the following spring, as long as you provide the plant with the needed food when the spring comes. During winter, you should keep the plant dormant by not watering it. 

In a cool climate, the calla lilies are grown as annuals. The rhizomes and bulbs are dug out every fall and then replanted in the spring. These rhizomes need to be kept indoors in the winter, but they’ll need more food and care in the following years. 

To keep the calla lilies blooming for multiple seasons, you need to fertilize the plants more often throughout the growing season. The stems should also be cut as soon as the flowers have faded to prevent the plants from setting the seeds. This will help conserve the plant’s internal energy to bloom in the following year. 

Make sure that the leaves have turned yellow and dig the rhizomes out after the first frost. Then, trim and remove the dying foliage, leaving only a couple of inches intact. The rhizomes should never be kept outside if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Store the rhizomes in a warm, dry place for several days, and then keep them in a box with some damp peat moss. Keep the box in a warm dark place, with a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They should stay dry to prevent them from rotting and shouldn’t be allowed to freeze. 

Dividing the plant into three or four sections is a good idea to keep your calla lilies blooming for several seasons. This will protect the plant from having crowded rhizomes that lead to the growth of fewer flowers. 

Are Calla Lilies Toxic?

Calla lily flowers and berries aren’t edible because they contain calcium oxalate, so they’re toxic to humans and pets. If consumed by humans, they’ll cause swollen lips and a nasty rash. They’ll also lead to digestive tract problems. 

If your dog or cat eats these flowers by accident, you’ll notice that your pet is in pain and suffering from a swollen mouth and lips. Unfortunately, the symptoms can also worsen and lead to vomiting. This is why whenever you suspect that your pet has consumed calla lilies, you should take it immediately to the vet. 

White calla lilies against a black background

How to Deal With Calla Lilies Blooming Problems

Calla lilies will start blooming in the spring if you start planting the rhizomes indoors in December, but when grown outside, most species start blooming in summer and fall. However, some gardeners and homeowners will face the problem of the plant not blooming. 

Solving this problem depends on where you’re growing your calla lilies. 

Outdoor Calla Lilies Are Grown in the Ground But Not Blooming

Although you’re providing your plant with partial or bright sunlight, depending on the zone, it’s not blooming. This suggests that there’s probably a problem with the soil itself. 

If you see that the foliage grows rapidly with brown edges on the leaves, but the flowers aren’t blooming, then there’s probably too much nitrogen in the soil. This can be a problem with the soil itself or the fertilizer you’re using. In this case, you can apply another fertilizer that contains more phosphorus to balance the nutrients in the soil. 

If the leaves look yellow and wilted, your calla lilies might not be receiving enough water. This happens if you’re keeping the plant in direct sunlight or you’re not watering it regularly. As a result, it will get stunned, not grow, or grow weak leaves without blooming. 

In this case, you should transfer the plant to another spot. You might have to dig it out or plant a bigger plant that provides partial shade. 

Paying attention to the amount of sunlight your calla lilies receive will also affect their growth. Too much or too little sunlight isn’t good for your plant. 

If you keep the plant in direct sunlight, the leaves will be stunned, and the plant won’t bloom. The same happens when it’s kept in complete shade. 

Outdoor And Indoor Calla Lilies Are Grown in A Pot But Not Blooming

The problem of the calla lilies not blooming is more common when these plants are grown in pots. Calla lilies can grow well in a pot if you’re keeping it outside or inside and providing it with enough sunlight. 

However, regardless of where you’re keeping the plant, the calla lilies might not be spending a dormant period, during which the plant restores its energy levels and prepares itself for the blooming period. 

Just because the plant can tolerate the weather inside doesn’t mean that it should be kept alive all year long. During winter, it’s best to stop watering your calla lilies to initiate the dormancy period. 

The soil should go bone dry to protect the plant’s internal energy and help it get ready for the next warm season. The leaves will fall off, and the plant will appear to be dead, but it won’t be. 

When the plant is dormant, it should be left in a cool dark place for a couple of months. Then, when the temperature rises, you should bring it outside or place it near a window and start watering it. 

In most cases, when your calla lilies aren’t growing properly, you might want to supplement the soil with plant food. This will be easier if you’re growing your plant in a pot because it’ll receive all the nutrients it needs. 

If you’re growing your calla lilies in a flower bed, make sure that taller plants aren’t obstructing the sunlight, as this might be the reason why the flowers aren’t blooming. 

Wrap Up

Calla lily flowers are bright, colorful, and easy to grow. Depending on where you’re growing them, they can be perennials or annuals. 

As long as you provide these flowers with enough sunlight and water, they’re likely to bloom for a longer period compared to other flowering plants. They make an excellent choice for a beginner gardener because they can be grown indoors outdoors and don’t need much care except adding enough food every month.