For the little attention they require, calla lilies are tremendously rewarding plants boasting elegant, chalice-shaped flowers that dazzle in a variety of colors.
You can grow calla lily outdoors as a border plant, but also indoors in containers. In this calla lily plant care guide, I’m going to cover the essential requirements of this delightful houseplant.
As you’ll see, this isn’t a fussy plant as long as you provide it with a good location, optimal light conditions and good soil.
Calla Lily Plant Care Tips
Calla lilies make captivating cut plants and blossom as soon as 8 weeks after planting. To get the best out of your calla lily plant, follow my care tips below.
Calla lilies get to a maximum height of 36 inches, although most will average at around 24 inches.
The highest part of the calla lily is the flower that stands a few inches above the leaves and reaches its full height when it blooms.
As for width, the calla lily is almost as wide as it is tall, reaching a width usually between 18 to 24 inches, but it can spread even further to a full 36 inches.
Depending on whether you live in cooler areas or warm areas, calla lilies can have different light requirements.
In warm areas, full sun to partial shade will be the ideal lighting conditions for calla lilies. In colder areas, calla lilies will grow best in full sun.
Indoors, calla lilies will enjoy lots of bright light, but not too much direct sunlight.
Calla lilies enjoy moist soil. Whether they’re indoors or out, you need to monitor soil moisture levels.
But moist soil does not equal soggy soil, so prevent calla lilies from sitting in water. A soil that has good drainage helps to prevent such issues.
Temperature & Humidity
Calla lilies will not tolerate temperatures that fall below 55 F. Their ideal temperature range is between 60-80 F.
Along moist soil, this plant also enjoys some humidity too, which aids the blooming process.
A potting mix that contains additives that help with soil drainage are the best for calla lilies. The soil should contain compost and organic matter to nourish the calla lily but also peat moss to aerate the soil.
Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks until the blooms fade away or use a basic slow-release fertilizer. Each fall, add well-rotted garden compost to enrich the soil. You can use a fertilizer designed specifically for bulbs.
Potting & Repotting
If you’re growing calla lilies indoors, you’re going to need pots with a diameter of 10-12 inches. The material of the pot is not consequential but do choose one that won’t tip over.
The pot should be tall to house the rhizomes comfortably and give the plant room to grow. It’s best to plant the rhizomes about 4 inches deep. When planting the bulbs, make sure the correct side is facing upward.
If grown in containers, calla lilies require repotting. One sign that it’s time to move your calla lily to a bigger container is visible crowding of the roots. The plant can also lose its vigor and stop flowering, which also indicates that your call lily needs repotting.
Calla Lilies Plant Propagation
Calla lilies can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes. As the plant grows and develops, it will produce clumps that are easy to remove and plant. The division is best to be done when the clumps start to decline, or every 3-5 years.
The best time to divide calla lilies is in early spring after the winter frost has gone, or in late summer after the plant has finished blooming for the year.
Different Types of Calla Lilies
Calla lilies are available in a few different varieties. Most enjoy the same environmental conditions I described in this article, with some enjoying more shade, while others being a bit more tolerant to drier conditions.
My top picks of calla lily varieties include:
– Calla Lily “Fire Dancer”
With trumpet-shaped flowers colored in reddish-orange and white spotted leaves, this calla lily is one of the showiest of its kind. It does best in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil that is kept moist.
– Calla Lily “Pink Melody”
An elegant calla lily with sturdy stems and rosy pink spathes, Pink Melody grows up to 12-24 inches. Blooms are on display from summer to fall.
– Calla Lily “Acapulco Gold”
The Acapulco Gold variety produces bright yellow flowers contrasted beautifully by the green arrow-shaped leaves. This variety also enjoys moist soil and full sun to partial shade.
– Calla Lily “California Red”
Another calla lily variety with vibrantly colored blooms, the California Red Calla Lily produces flowers that are a deep magenta in color.
– Calla Lily “Nightlife”
If you’d prefer a calla lily that displays a darker shade, the calla lily Nightlightlife is a perfect choice. It has a deep purple color that adds drama to any flower display.
– Calla Lily “California Ice Dancer”
This variety produces creamy white flowers on 18 inch stalks. The leaves of this variety are a shade darker than the leaves of other varieties.
Other varieties include the Crystal Blush, a variety that resembles the Pink Melody variant, with slightly whiter blooms, and the NightCap variety that’s similar to the Nightlife calla lily.
Whichever calla lily you choose, make sure you check its specific keeping requirements, because slight differences can exist, and they can have implications on the health of your calla lilies.
Calla Lily FAQs
If you still have some unanswered questions about calla lilies, the FAQs below can prove useful in solving some of the issues you may come across while growing calla lilies:
Are Calla Lilies Toxic to Pets?
Yes, the ASPCA website lists calla lilies as toxic plants for cats and dogs due to the high amount of insoluble calcium oxalate they contain.
When ingested, calla lilies can irritate the mouth, can cause intense burning. Your pet may drool excessively, it may vomit or have difficulty swallowing.
That said, the sap of calla lilies can irritate the skin as well, so make sure to wear protective gloves whenever handling the plant.
Also, keep it away from small children as well.
How to Plant Calla Lily Rhizomes?
For best results, plant the bulbs with the “eyes” pointing upward. The bottom side of the rhizome is rounded, while the top side has a circular indentation that resembles an eye.
If you plant it upside down, the bulbs may be slow to come up. Also, the bulbs should have shallow covering with only about 1-2 inches of soil.
Why do Leaves on Calla Lily Turn Yellow?
If you see the rich green color of the leaves on your calla lily turning yellow, check the following list for possible causes and solutions:
- Root rot caused by overwatering. If the roots begin to rot, nutrient supply to the leaves is cut off, and the leaves will begin to yellow, then turn brown, and then eventually die. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot issues.
- Nutrient deficiency can also make the leaves turn yellow. Make sure you’re feeding your calla lilies with a balanced fertilizer.
Are Calla Lilies Prone to Diseases and Pests?
While calla lilies are splendid plants that don’t require much in the way of your care, there are some diseases that can plague these plants.
Luckily, with some preventative measures and treatments, you can counter these problems.
Because of their culturing requirements — i.e. moist soil and humidity — Calla lilies can be affected by various forms of fungal and bacterial diseases such as root rot, crown rot, leaf spot and blight.
These are all issues that can be prevented with a good watering regimen that keeps the soil slightly moist but never watery.
Aphids and thrips can also interfere with the healthy development of calla lilies, causing spotted wilt (yellow or white spots or streaks on flower stalks) and dasheen mosaic (mosaic-like pattern on the leaves).
Diseased leaves must be removed to prevent further spreading and the disease. Keep the leaves of the calla lilies free of debris, which may house and feed pests, and keep the area around the plants free of weeds.
Using chemical fungicides (concentrated copper fungicide) or plant-based fungicides (neem oil) as a preventative treatment or even as a remedy can help with these problems.
By nature, calla lilies are outdoor plants that grow best in a moist and sun exposed environment, producing elegant flowers that come in a variety of colors.
Despite its ‘outdoorsy’ nature, calla lilies will perform well even as houseplants if their cultivation requirements can be replicated indoors.
Planting calla lilies in containers is just as easy as planting them outside. Make sure your calla lilies are potted in a potting medium that is rich in organic matter but drains well.
Don’t overwater but do keep the soil slightly moist and offer plenty of sunshine to partial shade for a healthy development and lots of blooms.