Beginner Gardeners | Spring Planted Bulbs

Complete Guide to Growing Calla Lilies


Calla Lilies are one of the most fake-looking real flowers. Whenever I see calla lilies in floral arrangements I think how unreal they look. Their flowers have a thick and waxy appearance, making them seem like they were made of plastic. However, these heat-loving favorites are the real deal. They aren’t just for floral arrangements. Calla lilies are a wonderful addition to the garden as well as container gardens. Our Complete Guide to Growing Calla Lilies will equip you with all the knowledge needed to grow calla lilies this summer!

Complete Guide to Growing Calla Lilies

How to Plant Calla Lilies

Dry calla lily bulbs for Growing Calla Lilies. Calla lilies grow from corms which is a type of bulb. The corms are somewhat flat with noticeable bumps; this is where the growth will come from. When planting calla lily bulbs planting at the correct depth is the first step to success. Plant calla lilies 3-4″ inches below the soil surface. The side with the noticeable bumps should face the sky.

Where to Grow Calla Lilies

Calla lily plants are native to South Africa. They thrive in warm tropical climates. However, they can be grown in most hardiness zones in the United States. Calla lilies are often treated as annual plants or stored indoors for the winter months when grown where they are not winter-hardy. They can be grown in hardiness zones 3-10. In zones 7-10 they are considered perennial and will return for several seasons.

Surprisingly calla lilies are tolerant of a range of light conditions but will grow best in a full-sun location. Calla lilies will also tolerate partial shade.  Therefore, if the location you want to plant them in gets at least 4-6 hours of sunlight, they will grow well.

Flower bulbs require soil that drains well in order to sprout and grow. However, during the growing season flower bulbs like calla lilies can tolerate moist soil. They will grow their best if they get adequate amounts of water. But, do not overwater the bulbs while they are dormant, as this could lead to them rotting.

Planting Calla Lilies in Pots

Dubai Nights Calla Lily growing in a pot. Deep Purple Calla Lily in a container. One of the best features of calla lilies is that they grow exceptionally well in containers. They can be used as the tall centerpiece of a mixed container, or planted alone. The container should have drainage holes, and soil that is made for container planting. The pot you choose should be at least 6″ in diameter to provide adequate space for the calla’s to grow. In a 10-12″ container 3-5 calla lily bulbs can be planted. Plant the bulbs 2-4″ deep in the container, they can be spaced close together, about 1-2″ as long as they aren’t touching.

How to Get Calla Lilies to Produce Flowers

Planting in full to part soil, in soil that drains well, with adequate moisture are the three most important aspects of growing calla lily bulbs. However, they are heavy feeders, which means that once the bulbs start to grow they should be fertilized on a regular basis with a liquid fertilizer. When they are planted adding a slow-release bulb food to the soil will help. About 1-2 months after they are first planted, adding liquid fertilizer that encourages blooms will help to promote large and abundant flowers.

Calla Lily Flower Colors Colors calla lilies are available in.

The original calla lilies from South Africa are white with spotted leaves. While these are still common traits in calla lily flowers and leaves the hybrid varieties are available in an array of colors. The most common colors of calla lilies are: yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, red, and white. Calla lilies don’t bloom in blue or black, however, some of the dark purple varieties are so deep purple they look black.

When Do Calla Lilies Bloom

The bloom time of calla lilies depends on when they are planted in where they are planted. Calla lilies that are growing as perennials in warm tropical climates will bloom in late spring. When planting calla lilies in the spring months, early or mid-summer months expect to see blooms 8-12 weeks after planting. The more heat, water, sun, and fertilizer they receive, the more likely they are to bloom in a quicker timeframe.

How to Store Calla Lily Bulbs for Winter

Gardeners who are growing calla lilies in colder climates and wish to overwinter the bulbs for the following season will need to store the bulbs. Prior to the first hard-killing frost remove the calla lily bulbs from the soil. Shake off any excess soil and store the bulbs in a location that is dark, dry, and cool but not cold. The bulbs can be stored in a brown paper bag or container that has some ventilation. Store with a light amount of wood shavings or vermiculite to help control moisture.

If the bulbs are planted in pots the bulbs can stay in the pots. Remove any foliage that remains by cutting it down to the soil level.  Relocate the pots to an indoor environment that is cool, dry, and dark, such as a basement or heated garage. The pots should not be watered while the bulbs are dormant in winter.

Grow Calla Lilies this Summer

Calla lilies are lovely in containers, and also as border plants in the garden. The flowers can be used for fresh-cut flowers in bouquets and in vases in your home. They add a touch of the tropics to your patios, beds, and border. The best part is they are easy to grow with blooms that last a long time even after they first appear.


Need Gardening Help?

If you need any help with gardening or if you have plant-related questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny San Filippo. She can provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed with your next project!

Contact Jenny

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