Calla lilies are beautiful elegant flowers which explains why they are so often used to make bridal bouquets. They’re native to South Africa and Malawi but can you plant calla lily in Florida?
Yes, you can grow calla lilies successfully in Florida. The plant thrives in zones 8-10, and luckily Florida lies in these zones. While Florida weather isn’t the perfect weather for growing calla lilies, you can still have these beautiful plants blooming in your home following specific planting and care routine.
In this article, we created a guide on how to grow and care for calla lilies in Florida. Let’s begin!
When to Grow Calla Lilies in Florida?
It’s important to grow calla lilies at the appropriate time to ensure growth. You should plant your calla lilies in the early spring.
You can start them indoors in the winter when it’s not too cold. If you choose to plant them directly in the ground, you can plant them after you’re sure that the danger of frost has passed.
Before planting, check the temperature of the soil. It should be at least 65°F (18°C). If it’s colder than that, delay the planting date until the soil warms up.
How to Choose the Best Location for Growing Calla Lilies in Florida?
These plants love organic-rich, moist, well-drained soil. This can be difficult to find in Florida where the soil is sandy.
Calla lilies also prefer full exposure to sunlight in cooler summer areas. However, if you live in an area in Florida that usually gets extremely hot in the summer, partial exposure to sunlight is better.
The hot weather further dries out the soil. So, your goal when choosing the right location for growing your calla lily is to find a place that will provide your plant with plenty of sunlight while still keeping the soil moist.
Another thing to consider is that calla lilies are toxic for both humans and pets. It’s best to plant them in a place away from the reach of children and pets.
How to Plant Calla Lilies in the Garden VS Containers?
When choosing to grow your calla lilies in the garden or containers, you have to consider sunlight, soil, and temperature conditions.
In the Garden
If you live in areas in Florida where the summer is on the cooler side, you can grow your calla lilies in the garden. However, the soil has to be rich in organic matter and can retain moisture.
If your garden checks all of the above, you can plant your calla lilies directly in the ground. While if you live in the hotter summer areas, you need to look for a place that can provide partial shade.
You might also need to amend the soil before the planting process if your soil is sandy. You can add organic matter to the soil by using sphagnum peat, well-rotted manure, ground bark, or compost.
These organic matters will add the necessary nutrients that your calla lilies need to grow well. They also help the soil to stay moist.
In the northern parts of Florida, the soil is more on the clay side and drains slowly. In this case, adding peat moss, shredded wood, or wood chips to the soil is necessary. This helps to loosen the soil while adding organic matter and helping with drainage too.
When amending the soil, it’s best to add about four to six inches of the amendment matter and work them into the soil to a depth of at least six inches.
Now, the soil is ready to plant your calla lilies. Plant your rhizomes about four to five inches deep and about one foot apart.
Cover the rhizomes with soil and pack them down with your hands. Then, water your new plant thoroughly.
Containers are a great option if you live in the hotter areas of Florida, or if your garden soil is far from ideal. The appropriate container is one that has drainage holes at the bottom.
Calla lilies like moisture but not soggy soil. The size of the container is also important.
Choose a container that is about 1 gallon for planting one rhizome. If you’re planting two rhizomes, then a 2-gallon container is suitable, etc.
Now that you chose the container, you need to choose the suitable potting mix. Any rich, well-draining potting mix will be perfect for planting calla lilies.
Fill the pot with the potting mix and plant your rhizomes about one to two inches deep into the soil. Water the plant thoroughly or until water comes out of the drainage holes.
How to Care for Florida Calla Lilies
Here’s a detailed guide on how to provide ongoing care for your calla lilies in Florida weather:
Florida weather, especially in the southern parts, is hot and dry. This causes the soil to dry quickly which your calla plant doesn’t like.
So, you need to water your plant almost daily. Water the plant thoroughly to make sure that the water is reaching the roots.
Keep in mind that overwatering can cause rotten roots. So, water the plant when you feel the soil is a bit dry.
For potted calla lilies, you need to check them more frequently than the garden ones. Stick your finger into the soil. If the top inch is feeling dry, it means that your plant is thirsty.
During the winter the plant goes to dormancy and you need to let it rest. During this phase, only water your plant once every three weeks until the plant dies.
When it dies, cut the water completely and leave it alone for two to three months. Start watering again in the early spring when calla lilies go out of dormancy.
Fertilizing your calla lilies is important for getting those beautiful blooms. Using a water-soluble fertilizer is the best.
For calla lilies, a 12-4-8 fertilizer is recommended. Something like Miracle-GRO 12-4-8 liquid fertilizer will work just fine.
Don’t fertilize your plant right away after planting, you need to wait until the plant has started germination. When you see the first germination, fertilize your plant following the package instructions.
Fertilize your plant once a month, not more than that. Overfertilization can burn your beautiful calla lily.
When the plant goes dormant in winter, stop the fertilization completely. Start fertilizing the plant again when you see the first sprouts in the early spring.
Calla lilies don’t need regular pruning. You only need to deadhead the flowers when they die during dormancy.
When pruning calla lilies, wear gloves so you won’t get any of the irritating sap on your skin. Also, use pruning shears cleaned with isopropyl alcohol to prevent transferring any diseases or pests to your plant.
Since calla lilies are perennials in Florida, you don’t need to dig up and store the bulb. You can just leave the rhizomes in the soil and they’ll germinate again in the early spring.
Calla lilies are susceptible to fungal diseases like botrytis. Here are some of the symptoms of fungal diseases:
- Yellowing or browning tips
- Wilting leaves and decaying shoots
- Gray mold on the leaves or the flowers
- Rotten flowering buds
- Soft roots
To prevent fungal diseases from infecting your plant, avoid overwatering and plant your rhizomes at least one foot apart to maintain enough air circulation.
To treat your calla lilies from fungal diseases:
- Remove any extra mulch or debris from the site to allow enough air circulation
- Using clean pruning shears, trim off any diseased or dead foliage
- Spray the infected calla lily with a pre-mixed, multipurpose fungicide once a week
- Repeat until the infection is gone
Calla lilies in Florida are susceptible to slugs, snails, whiteflies, and spider mites. To deal with a pest infestation, you need to isolate your plant first. Then, spray your plant generously with neem oil.
Be careful not to spray your plant with neem oil when the weather is too hot. Wait until the weather is cooler during the night.
The Wrap Up
Here’s a complete guide to help you successfully grow and care for calla lilies in Florida. Even though Florida weather can be hot and dry for growing calla lilies, you can still grow them in your garden or containers following our guide.
The best thing about growing calla lilies in Florida is that they’re perennials. So, you can have beautiful calla lilies blessing your home every spring and summer.