Calla Lily: Plant, Care, and Growth

Al Ardh Alkhadra > Blog > Gardening > Calla Lily: Plant, Care, and Growth

calla lily

Do you know that Calla Lily symbolizes rebirth and resurrection? Moreover, these are closely related to Easter Holidays.

Though you can find this beautiful plant’s pure white flowers, other modern hybrids come in a wide range of colors.

The flowers, also known as spathes tend to bloom for weeks, which adds a long-lasting color to your container garden, borders, mass plantings, and cut flowers.

However, you can also grow them from rhizomes, and you can find this plant as a houseplant from a florist or a nursery garden.

Though these plants are not precisely lilies, calla lily tends to share a lot of qualities with the lily plant.

They are graceful, and exotics, leaving you surprised at how easy growing and maintaining these flowers can be.

Keep on reading to learn more about Calla Lily.

Fast Facts about Calla Lily

When you want to grow these plants, you will have to do so during springtime as they grow moderately fast.

They produce flowers by early to mid-summer and will bloom throughout the season until early fall.

Native to Africa, calla lilies thrive in tropical climates, however, in some cases, they can be invasive, especially in countries like Australia and California.

Moreover, this plant is toxic to both humans and pets.

Common Name Calla lily, arum lily
Botanical Name Zantedeschia aethiopica
Family Araceae
Plant Type Rhizome
Mature Size 2–3 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White, pink, coral, maroon, orange, yellow
Hardiness Zones 8 to 10
Native Areas Africa (South Africa, Swaziland)
Toxicity Toxic to humans, toxic to pets

Learn more about Pet-Friendly Gardens! here.

Calla Lily Care

A calla lily is a tropical plant then will grow outside in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10, however, they tend to die back in summer.

They will regrow each year, however, in colder zones, you can plant this plant as annuals.

When you recreate the natural habitat of this plant with temperature, light, and moisture, this plant will thrive.

Moreover, it tends to grow from rhizomes, not from the bulb.

calla lily 2

This is the crucial indicator that they are not true lilies as lilies also grow from bulbs.

Like other flowering plants, with the help of fertilizer, you can encourage the growth of this plant.

According to the California Invasive Plant Council, Calla Lilies are aggressive weeds and they also list them as invasive species in coastal California.

Furthermore, the plant tends to be a problem in Australia, especially affecting agricultural growers.

Learn more about Growing and Caring for Primrose here.

Light and Soil Requirments

Calla lilies tend to thrive in a warm environment, just like their tropical nature, which includes plenty of light.

However, if you do not reside in hot and humid summer conditions, your plant will do better with partial shade.

If you have a more temperate cummer climate, they can easily thrive in full sunlight.

In order for your calla lily to bloom, it will need rich, moist, well-draining soil.

Moreover, they will do well when you go them along pools and will tolerate a moist soil location as well.

However, make sure to avoid planting them where the surface can become waterlogged, as it can lead to root rot.

To increase the nutritional density, you can amend the soil with organic matter before planting your flowers.

Learn more about Soil Amendments: Improving the Garden Soil here.

Water, Temperature, and Other Requirments

Once the rhizome establishes itself, you will need to water a calla lily once a week or more if there are hot or drought-like conditions.

However, if you have them in pots, you will need to constantly keep them moisten, as pots tend to dry out sooner than ground plantings.

As mentioned above, calla lilies tend to thrive in warm environments and temperatures that range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit they also enjoy a good amount of humidity and moisture.

Therefore, humid summers will help your plant to keep on blooming.

However, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will enter dormancy, and in such cases, make sure to dig up the plant for overwintering.

Make sure to do so before freezing temperatures as frost will kill your plant.

Your calla lily will feed up planting every spring at the start of the growing season.

They do so to promote the process of flowering.

With the help of a well-balanced fertilizer, your plant will do fine.

But make sure to avoid choosing a fertilizer with a high amount of nitrogen as it will reduce the flowering of your plant.

Learn more about Low Nitrogen Fertilizers: The Complete Guide here.

Types of Calla Lily

You can find calla lilies listed with their botanical name: Zantedeschia aethiopica, while the common color you can find them in is white with a yellow spadix.

These plants tend to be the hardiest as well as largest and cultivators of this plant are found in different colors with slightly smaller statues.

Zantedeschia “Edge of Night”: The flowers of this plant are dark purple to black in color which looks like black velvet.

Zantedeschia “Red Alert”: This variety will have bright orange and red flowers.

Moreover, it will bloom from May through August.

calla lily varieties

Zantedeschia “Picasso”: This one features white flowers with a purple throat.

Zantedeschia “Sunshine”: This one will have cheerful, bright yellow flowers.

Pruning and Propagating your Plant

One of the fun things about this plant is that you will not have to prune them regularly, however, you can easily pull off the wilting flower plant.

Removing parts of this plant will not kill and you can pinch the stems just below the bask of the flower with your fingertips.

Or you can use sterilized pruning shears to do so.

However, if you live in zones 8 or warmer, your plant will die at the end of the growing season.

In this case, make sure to cut the plant to the soil level and dispose of the plant debris.

In spring, the plant will return. Experts recommend wearing gloves when you are performing this process to avoid touching the sap and getting an allergic reaction.

To propagate this plant, you can do so by dividing the rhizome or rooting structure. Or you can grow a calla lily from seeds.


These plants form into large clumps, and you can divide them into separate plants.

Calla lilies you grow from rhizomes will flower much sooner than the ones that bloom from seeds.

Follow the steps below to propagate your plant through a rhizome:

  • if your plant is in th ground, use a shovel or pitchfork to pull up the rhizome, while if it is indoors, you will need potting soil and a clean pot
  • with the help of a shovel or pitchfork, circle around the root so that you can easily pull out the plant
  • after pulling out the clumps of roots, brush off the dirt from the rhizome and place it in a shady, well-ventilated area for a number of days, while making sure to not wet or water the plant
  • once it dries up, use a sharp knife to separate the rhizomes
  • they will not have to separate exactly where they are connecting, but make sure that each rhizome has at least one eye or more roots growing
  • lastly, replant the rhizome in soil with compost, at least 6 inches from other plants
  • or you can place it in a container with moist, well-draining soil
  • in some cases, you can also store the rhizome over the winter.

Growing Calla Lily from Seed

Though it can take at least 3 years of a calla lily to grow from seeds, it is still worth it.

You will need to pre-grow your calla lily, which you do by spreading the seeds out on a wet or damp paper towel and covering them.

Then place them in a cool location, like a basement or cellar, and check for growth after a few days.

However, you should discard any that do not show any signs of growth.

Or you can place the seeds in a high-quality medium in a well-draining pot, making sure that the soil is moist and watching for growth.

Watch your plant for a few weeks and remove the weakest shoot from each pot you will only need one seedling per pot.

Potting and Repotting Calla Lily

One thing to look out for when you have a calla lily in the pot is that its roots will begin to look crowded which shows that you need a bigger pot for them.

Root-bound plants will not thrive and grow, therefore, make sure to repot your calla lily if you see such an issue.

Moreover, use a plant at least 2 to 3 inches deeper and wider than the previous one.

In order to repot your plant, carefully lift the plant out of the pot and gently place them into the larger one.

Make sure to take care not to damage the delicate root of calla lilies.

Fill the new pot with soil and keep it consistently moist for a few days after repotting.

Also, make sure that you do not let the soil become soggy or waterlogged.

It is important to note that terra cotta pots tend to be a great option for planting these plants due to the porous nature of the plant.

This is because it will allow air and water to pass through its walls and will promote healthy plants by preventing overwatering.

While a drawback of using clay pots is that the soil will dry out quicker, and you will need to water more frequently.

What happens when Overwintering occurs?

One of the important things to note about your plant is that if you live in USDA zones cooler than 8, you will need to dig up and overwinter the rhizomes.

Or you will have to buy new rhizomes every growing season. Once you dig it up, make sure to brush off the dirt.

However, do not wash the roots as it can cause fungal root rot.

Cut off the foliage from the top and allow the rhizome to dry in a warm, well-ventilated place for at least 4 to 7 days.

This is crucial in winter as it will allow the outer part of the skin of the rhizome to toughen up or cure

After the rhizome dries up, place them in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper separately.

Store them in a cool, dry place, that stays around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, often a garage or basement will work well.

Common Problems with Calla Lily

Calla lily is easy to grow, however, other than water, they will not need much maintainance.

If you do not meet their growing needs, they can suffer. Some of the common problems are:

Brown Edges of Leaves

In such cases, it can be a sign that the fertilizer you are using tends to be too high in nitrogen.

If your plant is growing rapidly and looks lush but has brown edges on leaves, nitrogen fertilizer is a culprit.

Moreover, your lant will also not bloom in such cases.

Yellowing leaves, wilting or stunted growth

Though this plant is a water-loving plant, if you do not water it properly, it will not bloom, look stunted, and the leaves will appear yellow and wilted.

droopy leaves

Make sure to water them constantly to keep the foliage healthy and encourage flowering.

However, stunted growth can also be a sign of a lack of sunlight.

Drooping Stems and Flowers

This can occur when there is either too little or too much watering.

Moreover, too much nitrogen can also lead to drooping stems and flowers.

To perk up the stems and flowers up, watering them can help.

Common Pests and Diseases

When growing a calla lily, you will come across a number of issues like bacterial soft rot, which will affect the rhizomes and botrytis.

Botrytis is a fungal disease that causes a filmy grey mold to grow over the petals, stems, and leaves of your plant.

In order to reduce the risk of fungal diseases, make sure to avoid over-watering your plant and make sure that you place them far enough so that they have enough air circulation.

A number of pests can also cause an issue for your plants.

These include:

  • aphids
  • slugs
  • spider mites

You can treat your plant with insecticidal soap or horticulture oil like neem oil to fight such issues.

Learn more about Neem Oil as an Organic Insecticide here.

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