Growing Calla Lilies

Here you'll find valuable information and tips on planting, growing, and caring for calla lilies. These flowering plants can be grown indoors or out.

Calla lilies are unique and elegant flowering plants that make a spectacular addition to the home or garden. They are also very popular choices for bridal bouquets and cut flower arrangements. White calla lilies are quite common, but these plants are also available in an array of beautiful colors including various shades of green, pink, purple, yellow, and orange.

According to "Yard & Garden Brief: Calla and Canna Lilies", written by Beth R. Jarvis and published by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, the botanical name for the calla lily is Zantedeschia. The calla lily belongs to the same family as caladium and jack-in-the-pulpit, but they are not as hardy. Although it is called a lily, this plant is not really a lily.

The same article describes the colored foliage of the calla lily as trumpet shaped. These outer colored leaves are known as spathes. They encircle the spadix, which is a tapering yellow enclosure for the actual flowers. The green leaves of the calla lily are shaped like arrowheads and have white or silver speckles.

The book entitled "Burpee: Complete Gardener", published by Macmillan Incorporated in 1995, provides the following information on several showy varieties of calla lilies. A strikingly beautiful variety is 'Black Magic'. This calla lily has a yellow spathe which surrounds an ebony colored throat. There are very unique hybrids available. 'Cameo' is a rich salmon color, 'Solfatare' has buttery yellow spathes, and 'Pink Persuasion' has delicate pink blooms. Also mentioned are 'Childsiana' and 'Little Gem'. These are dwarf calla lilies.

According to "Burpee: Complete Gardener", calla lilies planted outdoors grow best in USDA zones 7 through 10. They require full sun to partial shade, depending on the climate. The online article entitled "Garden Calla Lily Info", published by, suggests planting calla lilies in partial shade if the climate tends to be warmer. 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 1½ feet when fully grown, says "Burpee: Complete Gardener".

Before planting, it is important to properly prepare the soil. "Calla Lily Growing Info" provides the following information on soil preparation and planting. It says 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.

Calla lilies are grown from bulbous roots with finger-like growths. These are known as tubers. The article "Garden Calla Lily Growing Info" says calla lily tubers should be allowed to dry out in a well-ventilated location. After the tubers have been allowed to harden and 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 tubers. 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.

The article "Garden Calla Lily Growing Info" says in USDA zones 9 and 10, calla lilies can remain planted throughout the year. "Burpee: Complete Gardener" says in northern zones, after the foliage has withered away, calla lily tubers should be dug up and stored in a cool, dry location until Spring. They can be divided before storage as long as the cut portions are allowed to dry. Doing so will prevent the open wounds from rotting. "Yard & Garden Brief: Calla Lilies" suggests storing the tubers in an open bag or container in either perlite, peat moss, or vermiculite. When all danger of frost has passed, the tubers can be replanted, and they should be fertilized using a 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer.

Calla lilies also make lovely houseplants. The article entitled "Calla Lilies", published in 1998 by, gives the following information on growing calla lilies indoors. It says they should be kept in a sunny location at a constant temperature of approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist, and during periods of new growth a water soluble fertilizer should be applied according to package directions. Blooms should be removed when they start to wither away, and watering should gradually be reduced until the foliage dies. Tubers need to rest for a period of 2 to 3 months without moisture. They should then be repotted and lightly watered until the new foliage is several inches above the soil. The calla lily will not need fertilizer until the resting and repotting process begins all over again.

Those with children and pets should use caution when growing calla lilies. They contain a poisonous ingredient called oxalic acid. If this plant is ingested, a poison control center should be called immediately.

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