Calla Lily Planting Guide

Classy. That’s the first word that comes to mind when envisioning a calla flower. Elegant. Simple. Sophisticated. In recent years, the word “colorful” has been added. It used to be that callas were white. Now they bloom in a rainbow of shades and that rainbow can grace your patio, veranda, balcony, lanai or terrace. Choose your favorite color and go classy.

Planting Information

Choosing a Site

Choosing a site with optimum sunlight for callas depends on the region in the country where you garden. In places with cooler summers, look for a site that receives sun all day. In regions where summers are hot, your callas will appreciate partial or dabbled shade in the afternoons. Moderate humidity is good and encourages lush foliage.

Soil Prep

If you are planting in the ground, look for a site that drains well. Callas prefer lightly moist soil but bulb rot is a risk in soggy soil. A pelleted, slow release fertilizer provides nutrients throughout the growing season. Pelleted Osmocote is a good fertilizer.

When to Plant

Plant outdoors in spring when frost danger has past and soil has warmed. These plants come from bloodlines native to South Africa and don’t handle frost well. Roots and sprouts both grow faster and stronger in warm soil.

If you live in a region where the ground doesn't freeze, callas may be planted in the fall and relied on for year round beauty.

How to Plant Calla Bulbs

Dig holes 6” deep and add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Add a little loose, amended soil back in the hole. Examine your bulb and find the pointy end. That’s the top where the new sprout will appear. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointy end facing upwards. Fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. Plant bulbs 8-12” apart.

During the Growing Season

Callas need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two. After summer flowering has finished, trim off spent blossoms and enjoy the wide tropical foliage.

At Season’s End

In zones 9-10, simply leave your callas in the garden; they’ll overwinter successfully. In colder regions, there are three choices. First, you can treat your callas like annual and replace in the spring. Second, you can wait until the foliage yellows, lift the bulbs, trim off the leaves and store in in slightly damp peat in a cool (45-55 degrees), dark place. Or, you can bring potted callas indoors when the weather cools, place next to a sunny window and enjoy as a houseplant.

Insider Tips

  1. Callas, aka Zantedeschia, are members of the arum family and cousins to purple and green striped Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants.
  2. Callas grow and flower best in moderate temperatures; 70-75 degree days and 60-65 degree nights.
  3. Cut calla flowers when they are open and well colored. They don’t develop much further after cutting.
shop calla lilies
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full to partial shade depending on region

Soil: Average, well drained

Depth: Cover bulb with 4" of soil

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Beds, pots, borders & houseplants

Tip: Choose big, multi-eyed bulbs for fuller plants

GUIDE: Calla Lily Planting Guide

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