The Calla Lilly (Zantedeschia) is a common name for a genus of flowers called Callas. They are flowering plants from the family Araceae. This plant is native to the Northern Hemisphere. The calla lily is also known as the pig lily, trumpet lily or arum lily.
Calla lilies especially like cool temperatures. They are a popular and beautiful plant that comes in a variety of colors. They are ideally used in flower beds and borders but can also be grown in containers both indoors and outdoors. I’ve put together an ultimate guide for the calla lily including how to plant, how to care for, fun facts about and everything you need to know about this wonderful flowering plant.
Why Grow Calla Lilies?
Calla Lilies are easy to grow. They are so easy to grow that in some areas they are even considered an invasive species. Hopefully that fact alone, will encourage even a novice gardener to give the calla lilies a try! Calla Lilies offer a wide color range. They are easy bloomers and will come into flower about 8 weeks after planted. Their unique arrow shaped foliage is beautiful. They make great cut flowers either alone, in bunches or arranged with other flowers. Calla lilies come in many colors such as shades of white, cream, pastel pinks, yellows, lavender and mauve. They truly are stunning to view. Calla lilies also have a fragrance that many people greatly enjoy.
Many people like to give calla lilies as gifts in pots around the holidays and for celebrations. The pots along with the bulbs are often discarded when the blooms fade away. However, the calla lily is a perennial and when properly saved it will bloom again.
A great benefit of growing calla lilies is that deer and rabbits consider it at the bottom of their choice for nibbling on. This makes the calla lily a great choice for areas that are not fenced off from deer and rabbits.
How To Plant A Calla Lily
Calla Lilies are fairly easy to grow. They are not one of those plants that are going to require a whole lot of your time and attention. Being an easy keeper, the calla lilly will need proper planting though in order for it to flourish. They are especially easy to grow in zones 7 through 10.
First, make sure to prepare a place with loose and well drained soil. By taking the extra time ahead to prepare the correct environment for your calla lily, you will be making your life and the calla lilies life much easier. They prefer full sun or partial shade.
Plant calla lilies about 4 inches in depth. They should be spaced about 12 inches or so apart. As soon as you plant your calla lily make sure to water it well and make sure it stays well watered.
Consider, planting calla lilies in groups of 3 to 5. Any flowering plant of the same color will look gorgeous when planted in groups of similar colored flowers. Try planting 3 rhizomes together in one spot in your garden. By planting several of the same colors together, you will create a dramatic effect. When you plant one of each type next to each other, it just doesn’t give the same big effect as planting several same colors together. Planting in large clumps also makes it easier for pollinators to find what they need.
When To Plant A Calla Lily
Calla Lilies do best if they are planted in the Springtime. It is important though to wait until the frosts are over. The soil should also be warm before attempting to plant. You don’t want to shock and kill your calla lilies by planting them too early when it’s still cold out.
A well cared for calla lily will bloom about 8 weeks after it is planted. Flower stalks will begin to shoot up. Within about a month you will start to see the beautiful blossoms emerge. The flowers will continue for the next couple of months. This is truly a beautiful plant that can be enjoyed throughout the Summer season.
Caring For Your Calla Lily
Calla lilies like to be kept well watered. They also thrive when given a monthly dose of fertilizer. They are not hard to care for just so long as you remember what they like. Sandy soils are ok if you add fertilizer but clay soils can be very difficult for a calla lily to grow in. Too much nitrogen will contribute to lots of leaves and long stem production but with a poor bud production. If your soil is very fertile you may not need any nor much fertilizer.
Mulch around each plant will help with weeds. Weeds will suck the nutrients and water out of the soil that was intended for your calla lily. If weeds get too high can also block out important sun rays. It’s important to have a weed control system in place so that your calla lilies thrive.
This same rule for watering holds true if you are growing calla lilies in containers. It’s equally important that you allow them to go dormant. If they are in containers, you can and should move them to a dark place. Wait until the foliage has died back and then move it to a cool, dark place and cease watering.
Regular watering can start back up after a few months. It is noteworthy to remember that calla lilies can remain in the ground year round but they do well also if they are removed from the ground and stored in cool areas in containers.
Wintering Your Calla Lily
In the Fall after the first frost is a good time to dig up your calla lily bulbs. Gently remove any soil and allow them to dry out for a few days. Do not place them in full sun when drying them out. Peat moss makes a great wintering ground for calla lilies. Find a room that will be cool and dark. Some garages and basements may work well for storing calla lilies through the dormant months.
A calla lily will go dormant once a year. The dormant period will begin after the flowers have bloomed and fallen off. During the dormant period, it’s best to refrain from watering your calla lily. It’s important to help it to die off and go dormant for the season. By keeping it from doing that, you are messing with it’s normal yearly cycle.
In the Spring, take the bulbs out and plant them according to the directions that I mentioned above. Again, remember that it’s important to wait until the last Spring frost before planting.
Where To Buy Calla Lily Bulbs
Here are some places that you can buy Calla Lily Bulbs. The following all sell calla lilies: American Meadows, Blooming Bulb, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Holland Bulb Farms and Park Seed . You also may want to check on eBay also. Many gardener enthusiasts will put up bulbs for sale online. Make sure to read the feedback from people who have already purchased Calla Lily Bulbs from them. You may save yourself some money and time to first see what their success rate is with the calla lily bulbs that they sell.
When selecting calla lily bulbs, size really does matter. They are in fact graded according to the circumference of the rhizome. A larger rhizome will grow into a large plant with more flowers than a smaller sized rhizome.
Pests and Diseases
Erwinia soft rot is a disease that can affect calla lilies. Like the name sounds, you can expect the roots and stalks to become soft and start to rot. The plant may also develop a fishy odor. To control your calla lily from getting erwinia soft rot, make sure to plant in well-drained soil. Also, make sure to immediately cut off any diseased plant parts. This practice should help your control rot.
Aphid infestation can also take over your calla lily. Aphids are very small and wingless insects that feed on the leaves and stems of plants. These insects can produce a sticky liquid call honeydew to remain on your calla lilies. Watch for signs of curing and discolored leaves. Leaves will often turn yellow when aphids have inhabited your calla lilies. Make sure to wash off the aphids with water or remove the bugs with your hands.
Make sure to keep your calla lilies out of reach of small children and away from pets. All parts of the plant contain oxalic acid. Nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the tongue may occur if this plant is ingested. Even a small amount if eaten could be fatal to small children and pets. Make sure to contact your poison control center immediately if you suspect anyone has eaten calla lily.
Calla Lily Garden Design And Usage
There are so many ways to layout a beautiful garden design of calla lilies. It’s really hard to go wrong and you are only limited by your imagination. I’ve listed 3 ideas here of garden design and usage that you may want to try, incorporate or consider.
- Plant a garden of calla lilies with the intention of attracting pollinating insects. Calla lilies are great for bees and other pollinators. Plant some of these by your window and watch the wonderful and beneficial flying insects come to your garden. You’ll not only be doing the environment a world of good, you’ll also get to enjoy butterflies, bees and colorful moths.
- Add color to flowers in containers by adding in some colorful calla lilies. Their delicate nature and colorful array will give potted plants an added effect.
- Plant a cutting garden made up of calla lilies. These flowers are so popular with brides that you might want to plant a garden just for that reason. Also, a trip to the cutting garden before visiting a friend or family member makes it as easy as snip, snip and you have a gift for them. Calla lilies can last up to 3 weeks in a vase with water. You may want to consider adding some other flowers to your cutting garden. Dahlias and gladiolus also go along great with calla lilies when planted side by side.
Fun Facts About Calla Lilies
The Calla lily is not actually a true lily. It is a unique flower that is related to jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). The name calla lily is derived from a Greek word meaning beauty. It is native to Africa and is well known for its fragile and delicate appearance.
Each color of calla lily has its own meaning or significance. For example, pink represents admiration and appreciation. Purple stands for passion. Purple is often associated with royalty. White stands for purity and innocence. For this reason, white calla lilies are often used in weddings.
Because the calla lily blooms in the Spring these flowers have come to represent rebirth and youth. Along the same lines, that is why the calla lily is a popular flower in Christian celebrations such as Easter. It has become one of the most popular flowers that represents Jesus rising from the dead. This flower has been associated with holiness, faith and purity. Calla lilies are often used at funerals to represent that loved ones are now reborn into heaven forever where everything will be pure, holy and beautiful. In summary, this plant is a perfect choice for occasions that involve purity, new beginnings or major transitions.
Summary and Extra Tips For Growing Healthy Calla Lilies
Makes sure to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Make sure to provide bright but indirect light when planting in containers. Provide fertilizers when the flowers are in bloom. Fertilize every month for potted containers. Keep your calla lily away from both hot or cold air blowing on it. This means keep it well away from a heat source and also well away from an air conditioner. Remember to reduce the watering of the plant when it starts to enter the dormant period which is right after it flowers in the Fall.