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Growing Calla Lilies – How to Grow and Propagate Zantedeschia sp.

These tips for growing calla lilies will let you experience their beauty in your garden at a much less cost than from a florist.

Have you ever priced single calla lilies at a florist?  If you have, you will have discovered that they sell for up to $10 a STEM. 

Why pay those kind of prices, when you can become your own florist? – Well sort of, anyway.

Calla Lilies make wonderful indoor plants and come in many colors, as well. Keep reading to find out how to grow this lovely plant.

White calla lilies in flower.

If you love to grow flowering houseplants, especially those with dramatic blooms, calla lilies are a great choice.

Calla lilies are a favorite with florists, particularly when white, because they are popular for weddings.

Pink and white calla lilies in a put with words how to grow Calla lilies.

Growing calla lilies

Calla lilies are easy to grow and produce gorgeous long stemmed flowers in a wide range of colors.    These tips will help you get the most of of this pretty plant.

Pink calla lily flower.

Sunlight, soil and watering needs for calla lily

Plant your callas in soil that gets fairly good drainage and is in full sun. Adding compost at planting time is beneficial.  In the hottest zones, you may need some partial shade in the heat of the day.

If your plant came in a pot, check to see if there is more than one rhizome in it.  Many nurseries use smaller tubers and plant several to a pot. 

You can separate them and give them more room to grow or replant into several pots for a better display.

Be sure to wait until all danger of frost has passed.  They should be planted about 3 inches deep, and 6 inches apart, with the growing tip facing up.

Callas like average to moist soil conditions but not soggy soil. Be sure not to let them be dry for too long.

Indoors, calla lilies make great house plants.  They need bright light and a pot that gives them room to grow.  Hold off watering in the winter when the plant is dormant but you can leave the rhizomes in the pot.

Yellow calla lily flowers

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Are calla lilies a bulb?

Calla lily – zantedeschia sp. is considered a rhizome, not a bulb. See my article to help understand the differences between bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.)

Although not considered a true lily, it certainly has beautiful flower. 

It’s hard to believe that something that grows from an ugly rhizome can produce such a gorgeous display! 

Although many calla lilies are grown as indoor plants, they make a great border plant.

calla lilies and other flowers in a garden border

 Calla lily flowers

Calla lilies make great cut flowers so don’t be shy about cutting them.  That is the most popular reason for growing these beauties.

Good quality calla lily tubers can cost up to $10 each or more.  So for the cost of a single flower at the florist, you can grow the tubers that will give you up to a dozen flowers. 

Calla lilies grow in many different colors from white to red. There are even varieties with blooms that are so dark that they look like black plants.

In warm climates, where calla lilies are considered a perennial, the plant will typically flower in early summer. A dose of fertilizer during the growing season will promote blooms.

After blooming, don’t cut the foliage off. Like most bulbs, the leaves will continue to gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s display.  You can remove the leaves when they turn yellow.

Dog sniffing a calla lily plant.

Are calla lilies poisonous?

Calla lilies contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. If chewed, eaten or swallowed, these crystals cause pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing, and temporary hoarseness to humans.

Calla lily, along with autumn crocus, amaryllis and palm lily are thought to be dangerous to dogs by the ASPCA. If your dog eats them, they can cause gastrointestinal upset, as well as depression and tremors.

In cats, ingestion of calla lilies can irritate your pet’s mouth and esophagus.

There are many plants, both indoor and outdoor plants, that are considered poisonous to people and pets. Some other poisonous plants are:

Hardiness for calla lilies

Calla lilies are hardy in zones 8-10.

This means that in zones 8 and warmer you can leave your calla lilies in the ground year round.  In colder zones, they will need to be dug up and stored in peat moss for the winter, (like dahlias and other semi temperate rhizomes and tubers.) 

Some gardeners report that it is possible to grow them in zone 7 with a good layer of mulch over the top.

Calla lily rhizomes starting to sprout.

Calla lily propagation

Propagating calla lilies can be done two ways – by rhizomes and by seeds.  The easiest way is to divide the rhizomes making sure each has roots and eyes attached.

Growing calla lilies from seed can be a challenge but it is possible. Each of the flowers has seeds that are made internally.  When the flowering has finished, the flowers will close up to encase the seed pods. 

Save the whole flower head and cut it off the plant before frost occurs.

There is a YouTube video showing how to use the seeds pods for new Calla Lilies. The man who made the video has many calla lilies and shows how to collect seeds from them.

Do calla lilies multiply?

Do calla lilies spread? Since they grow from rhizomes, calla lilies spread by multiplying and making more rhizomes. You can dig up the rhizomes, divide them and plant them in other areas of your garden.

Even though they do spread, they do so in a way that is quite easy to control.

Pin these tips for growing calla lilies for later

Would you like a reminder of these tips for growing calla lilies?  Just pin this image to one of your flower boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Yellow calla lilies in a white pot with words How to grow calla lilies and how to propagate them.

Admin note: this post for growing calla lilies first appeared on the blog in February of 2014. I have updated the post to add all new photos, a printable growing tips card, and a video for you to enjoy.

Yield: 1 happy plant

How to Grow Calla Lilies

How to Grow Calla Lilies

Calla lilies are a favorite with florists, since they are often used as a flower in weddings. However, calla lily stems are very expensive. These tips will show you how to grow them yourself.

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty moderate

Materials

  • Calla lily rhizomes
  • Compost or other organic matter

Tools

  • Watering can or hose

Instructions

  1. Plant calla lilies 3-4" deep and 6" apart in well draining soil.
  2. Adding compost at planting time is beneficial.
  3. Plant in a location with full sun (partial sun for the hottest climates.)
  4. Fertilize during the growing season.
  5. Bloom time is early to mid summer.
  6. Calla lilies are hardy in zones 8-10, and 7 with mulch in winter months.
  7. In colder climates, dig up and store the rhizomes indoor in winter.
  8. Propagate by division and from seed.
  9. Calla lilies are considered toxic to humans, dogs and cats.

Notes

Print out these growing tips for calla lilies and keep them in your garden journal.

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Ria

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

If you plant a tuber of the calla lilly, do you water it while waiting for it to sprout?

Carol Speake

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Yes, without water, it will not sprout.

Alexandra

Monday 19th of October 2020

can these be propagated and grown in water?

Carol Speake

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

Calla lilies can be grown in water, since they are happy in a pond. I have not tried to propagate them this way.

tracy

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

where can I post a photo to show the large green mushroom growing out of my calla lily? I don't feel like I over water, the plant looks healthy (but only had one flower). What is this odd mushroom. I've looked all over and don't see anything like it.

Carol Speake

Monday 13th of July 2020

Wild mushrooms sometimes just appear. This isn't a feature of a caladium. To see the flower of a caladium, have a look at this post. Scroll down about 3/4 of the way and a photo is shown with the flower above the plant.

Leslie

Sunday 26th of April 2020

Yes I want to grow Inset indoors what should I buy?

Carol Speake

Monday 27th of April 2020

What do you mean by "inset"?

Barbara J. Seefeldt

Friday 18th of May 2018

What about SE Kansas? I received calla lillies for Mothers Day... I thought I would plant them outdoors... I have several lillies that come back each year. Sounds like the calla lillie is much more gingerly? Please advise... Thanks in advance I still have them inside... so need to make an informed decision soon... Barb

Carol

Friday 18th of May 2018

Hi Barbara..They only grow in zones 8-10. Colder than that and you'll need to bring them indoors for the winter. What zone is SE Kansas? Carol

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