Everything You Need to Know About Calla Lilies

Cala Lilies

For many people, calla lilies are some of the most beautiful flowers. They are also considered a symbolic flower in many cultures. A calla lily is a stunning addition to any garden, but some people worry that these flowers are difficult to grow. That is not the case if you plant them in the right conditions and give them the care they need. Here is everything you need to know about the calla lily, including how to grow them and some tips for their care.

Overview of Calla Lilies

Despite their name, calla lilies are not true lilies, says Gardening Know How. They belong to a family of plants called the Arum family, which is part of the genus Zantedeschia. These plants are native to South Africa and there are six different species. The leaves of this plant are round or heart-shaped, and the plant produces a fruit that is a cluster of red berries, each of which contains several seeds. Calla lilies come in various colors, although white is the most common and also the most symbolic in many cultures. Most calla lilies grow to between one and three feet in height.

Varieties of Calla Lilies

There are many varieties of calla lilies from which you can choose for your garden. Some of these for you to consider include:

  • Acapulco Gold- This variety produces large, bright yellow blooms.
  • California Ice Dancer- The leaves of this variety are darker than those of other calla lily varieties. They produce large, creamy-white flowers and grow to around 1.5-feet.
  • California Red- As its name suggests, the flowers of this calla lily are a deep red.
  • Crystal Blush- The petals of the flowers are white with a slight pink blush along the petal edges.
  • Fire Dancer- One of the most stunning varieties that will stand out in your garden, the flowers are a deep gold with red petal edges.
  • Night Cap- This is a deep shade of reddish-purple and the flowers are smaller than some other varieties of calla lilies.
  • Night Life- Similar in appearance to the Night Cap variety, this variety also has purple flowers but with a slight blue tone. The flowers of the Night Life are larger than those of the Night Cap.
  • Pink Melody- This variety has a rather unusual coloring as the petals progress from green to white and then to pink from the base of the bloom to the tips. This is one of the taller calla lily varieties as it grows to around two feet.

Reasons to Grow a Calla Lily

According to Garden Design, there are many reasons why a calla lily is a good choice for your garden. Some of these are:

  • Easy cultivation- A calla lily is surprisingly easy to cultivate.
  • Color options- Calla lilies are available in a vast range of colors. Therefore, you can add splashes of color around your garden.
  • Quick blossoming- With many plants, there is a long wait for the blossoms to appear. That is not the case with calla lilies as they blossom within eight weeks of planting.
  • Attractive- The arrow-shaped foliage is something that many people find visually appealing.

When and Where to Plant a Calla Lily

Planning when and where to plant your calla lilies makes a big difference to whether they will thrive or not, says Longfield Gardens. They recommend the following:

  • The best place to plant a calla lily is in full sun, although they can live happily in partial shade. Avoid areas of total shade.
  • In locations with a warmer winter climate, these plants are hardy. However, in colder climates, you may need to bring your plants indoors for the winter or grow them as annuals.
  • Plant calla lilies in spring after the frost has passed. If you want to plant them earlier to get a head start, plant them in pots indoors.
  • They prefer loose, moist soil. If you do not have an area with loose soil, add some mulch.
  • An area with good drainage is better to avoid them getting too much water and rotting.
  • Check the soil drainage by pouring some water on the soil. If it has disappeared after five minutes, then the soil has good drainage. On the other hand, if a puddle has formed on the surface, then it does not drain well.
  • To improve drainage, you can mix in some grit with the soil.

How to Grow a Calla Lily

Growing calla lilies is surprisingly easy. The Flower Expert gives the following steps for growing calla lilies in your garden.

  1. If you are planting outside in your garden, plant the calla lilies in spring.
  2. Find the perfect spot in your garden for your calla lilies.
  3. Dig a hole that is large enough for your bulb, at least four inches deep.
  4. If you are planting multiple calla lilies, plant them at least 12-inches apart to give them space to grow.
  5. Cover the bulbs with soil and pat down.
  6. Water the bulbs immediately after planting.

Growing Calla Lilies in Containers

It is possible to grow calla lilies in containers outdoors using the same method as for planting in your flower beds. This is a good option for those who only have a small yard rather than a garden. You can also grow calla lilies from bulbs in indoor pots prior to outdoor planting. Doing this will give you a head start and means you will not have to wait until the ground frost has cleared.

Calla Lily Care Tips

Once you have planted your calla lilies, you need to make sure you care for them properly for them to thrive. The following tips will help you to do this.

  • Adding some mulch around the base of the plants will reduce the likelihood of weeds and keep the area moist.
  • During the growing season, add fertilizer to the soil once a month.
  • Once flowering is over, calla lilies have a period of dormancy. During this time, avoid watering the plant as much as this will allow the plant to die back.
  • If the calla lilies are growing in a container, then stop watering the plants after flowering until the leaves have faded. After two to three months, you can resume regular watering.
  • If you live in a warmer climate, you can leave the calla lilies in the ground throughout the year. If you live in a colder climate with frost in the winter, then follow the special instructions for the winter care of your lilies.

Special Winter Care Instructions

During the winter months, there are some additional care instructions that you need to follow. This is because calla lilies do not thrive in extremely cold conditions. Use these tips to care for your calla lilies in winter:

  • If you want to start planting your calla lilies in winter, do so by planting them in pots indoors. You can then transfer the young plants outside in early spring to enjoy the blooms in your garden.
  • Dig up the rhizomes in autumn after the first frost.
  • Shake soil from the rhizomes and then dry them out for a few days.
  • Store the rhizomes over winter in peat moss, and keep them in a cool, dry, dark area.
  • Wait until the spring before transferring your calla lilies to their new home outdoors.
  • While the call lilies are lifted, you can divide them. You can also divide them during their dormancy period.

Common Problems for Calla Lilies

According to Home Guides, the three most common problems you will have with calla lilies are fungal infections, bacterial diseases, and viruses.

The fungal and bacterial infections are the main causes of rotting, and there are four common types of rot that affect calla lilies; Armillaria rot, crown rot, root rot, and Pythium rot. These rots are more prevalent in warm and moist conditions. The best way to avoid fungal infections is to avoid overwatering your plants.

The two main viruses that affect calla lilies are dasheen mosaic and spotted wilt. Viruses can spread from one plant to another, so you need to remove an infected calla lily as soon as you notice the virus. Typical signs to watch out for that indicate a virus include spotting on the leaves and limpness.

Why Are the Calla Lilies Turning Green?

There are many different colors of calla lilies available, but green is not one of them. Some have an area of green at the base of the petals that fade into the petal color, but any other greenness on the petals is not normal. However, the flowers turning green is one of the most common problems that people who grow calla lilies experience, and there are many reasons for this, says Gardening Know How.

If the calla lily is a young plant, then green buds are normal on some varieties. The buds start out green before developing into their true color over time. This is a natural occurrence and is not something that you need to worry about or try to fix. Just make sure the young plant has lots of light and the greenness should gradually disappear.

In established calla lilies, there should be no green on the petals at all, only on the spathes. The main cause of greenness is insufficient light getting to the plant. Always plant calla lilies in areas with very little shade so that they get as much sunlight as possible. If the plant is getting enough light, you should avoid the issue of greenness.

A further reason for greenness in calla lilies is an excess of nitrogen. This happens if you choose the wrong fertilizer. For calla lilies, opt for a fertilizer that is slightly higher in phosphorus as these are a more balanced option for this type of plant. An excess of nitrogen can not only cause green blooms, but it can also have a negative impact on the formation of the flowers.

Flowers can also become green and limp at the end of the blooming period before turning brown, and this is a normal stage in the life cycle of a calla lily. The reason why the flowers become limp and green is that the plant focuses all its resources on the leaves to prepare for the period of dormancy and next years blooms. If it is the end of the flowering season and the flowers are turning limp and green, then simply cut them off.

Calla Lilies as Cut Flowers

Calla lilies are popular as cut flowers. People buy them to decorate their home or for events such as weddings and funerals. The main reason people buy these cut flowers is because of their attractive appearance. However, they are also a good choice of a cut flower because they are so long-lasting. In water, a cut calla lily will live for around a month.

A Word of Warning

It is important to note that calla lilies are extremely toxic when fresh. This is because they have high oxalic acid content. Therefore, you should not eat this plant and you should avoid putting your fingers into your mouth after touching your calla lily.

Calla Lilies – The Final Verdict

The calla lily is a beautiful flower that is surprisingly easy to grow and needs very little care. They are best-suited to warmer climates, but you can still grow them in colder places if you bring them in during the winter months. The best conditions for calla lilies are sunny spots with most, well-draining soil. If you take good care of your calla lily, you will be rewarded with beautiful blooms in the warmer months. There are many varieties from which you can choose in an array of beautiful colors. They will add visual appeal to any garden.


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