Calla lilies are easy to grow and add a classy look to perennial gardens, cutting gardens and container plantings. Their smooth, sword-like foliage stays neat and attractive all season long.
Calla lily flowers emerge in mid to late summer and last for weeks. You can choose from many colors, including classic white (a favorite for weddings), yellow, orange, pink, rose, lavender and dark maroon. In the garden or in a vase, calla lilies are elegant and always impressive.
STEP 1 - KNOW
START WITH A BETTER BULB
It’s easy to see the difference in a quality calla lily when you compare two plants side by side. Calla lilies are graded according to the circumference of the rhizome. A 14/16 cm rhizome will grow into a bigger plant with a more beautiful display of foliage and flowers than a smaller-sized rhizome.
STEP 2 - PLAN
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Calla lilies are easy to grow. Here’s how to get them off to a great start.
SHADE AND SUN: Callas will grow in full sun or partial shade. In cool climates, a warm, sunny location is best.
ZONE: Calla lilies are winter hardy in zones 8-10. In colder areas, they can either be grown as annuals or can be dug up in the fall and stored indoors for replanting the next spring. Reference the USDA Hardiness zone map HERE.
WHEN TO PLANT: Calla lilies should be planted in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. For a head start, you can plant the rhizomes in pots indoors about a month before planting them into the garden.
WHERE TO PLANT CALLA LILIES
FLOWERBEDS AND BORDERS: Calla lilies grow between 1 and 2 feet tall, depending on the variety. This makes them a good choice for the front or middle of a flowerbed. The speckled foliage looks attractive all season long, both before and after the plants are in bloom.
CUTTING GARDENS: Calla lilies are terrific cut flowers. They are easy to arrange and can last for up to two weeks in a vase. Planting callas in a cutting garden makes it easy to grow a wide range of different colors and have plenty of flowers for bouquets.
CONTAINERS: Calla lilies grow well in pots and planters, either on their own or mixed with other annuals. The flowers last for weeks and some varieties change color as they mature.
STEP 3 - GROW
PLANTING IS AS EASY 1-2-3
1. Dig a hole 2 to 3” deep.
2. Set the calla lily into the hole with the "eyes" (growing tips) facing up.
3. Cover with soil and water lightly.
PLANTING TIPS FOR CALLA LILIES
In warm zones, calla lilies can be planted as soon as any danger of frost has passed. In cooler areas, it’s best to wait until the soil has warmed to at least 65°F.
Like most plants, calla lilies should be grown in well-drained soil. When the rhizomes are first planted, it’s important not to overwater them. Once the plants have a few leaves, you can begin watering them as needed. In warm areas, calla lilies grow well in full sun or partial shade. In cooler areas, they grow best in full sun.
Calla lily bulbs should be planted 2 to 4” deep and about 6” apart. After planting, it may take 2 weeks or more for the first shoots to appear. Once that happens, the plants will grow quickly. For an earlier start, the rhizomes may be planted indoors, about a month before the last frost date.
In warm climates, where calla lilies are perennial, the plants typically flower in early summer. When calla lilies are planted in the spring, they will produce flowers in late summer.
During the growing season, calla lilies appreciate a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer. This is especially true when they are grown in containers.
STEP 4 - AFTERCARE
CARING FOR CALLA LILIES AFTER THEY BLOOM
In warm climates where calla lilies are winter hardy (zones 8-10), the rhizomes can be left in the ground to bloom again the following summer. The plants may need to be divided every few years to keep them blooming well.
In cooler areas (zones 3-7), calla lilies are usually treated as annuals, with new bulbs planted each spring. If you want to save your calla lilies for next year, cut off the flower stems after the blooms have faded. Preventing the plants from setting seed will help conserve energy for next year’s flowers. Continue fertilizing monthly until the foliage begins to yellow.
When the leaves have died back, or after the first frost, dig up the rhizomes and trim off the foliage, leaving an inch or two of stem attached. Let the rhizomes cure in a warm, dry place for several days and then put them into a box with barely damp peat moss. Store the box in a dark place at 50-60°F. Check once or twice during the winter to make sure the rhizomes are not too moist (rotting) or too dry (shriveling).