How To Grow Calla Lilies?

calla lilies

Zantedeschia Aethiopica, habitually known as Calla Lily and Arum Lily, is a species of flowering plant in the family Araceae. It is native to southern Africa in Lesotho, South Africa, and Eswatini. Calla Lily is an herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennial grown from rhizomes.

Tubular-shaped flowers with pointed tips produce a long, finger-like spadix at the center. Blooms come in the colors white, yellow, pink, orange, green, purple, red, or black. Tall elegant stems rise above broad solid green or speckled leaves.  Their graceful blooms bruise simply and should be handled with care.

Available year-round, Calla Lilies should stay fresh for 7 to 10 days. In terms of care, they’re very different than other cut flowers. If you like the appearance of lilies but are afraid that the scent might be too much, Calla Lilies will be perfect for you. Calla Lilies will brighten any garden, perfectly lining walkways and bringing color to windowsills and dinner tables.

Basic Care

Calla Lily Flower can be grown outdoors in the USDA Hardiness zones 8 to 10. You can plant calla lilies in the spring after all risk of frost has passed or when the soil has warmed up to at least 65 °F (18 °C), in full sun or partial shade. Plant the rhizomes with the growing tips facing up. Submerge them 4 inches (10 cm) deep and a foot (0.3 meters) apart, measuring from center to center, and water them in.

Purple Calla Lily Source: Judy


Calla Lilies grow in impartial shade or full sun. Full sun is best in cool summer areas but partial shade is preferred in hot summer areas. If grown indoors they require a sunny window.  An eastern window with morning sun or a western window with afternoon sun will be ideal for this plant.  Be careful to avoid the hot midday sun as this can burn the leaves. The plant needs morning sun and afternoon shade in places where summers are hot.


Calla lilies are toxic, but the calcium oxalate crystals in calla lilies don’t break down in the body, so whole-body poisoning is rare unless large amounts are digested. The symptoms are usually local, like the eyes or mouth. On top of that, only some exposed individuals will develop symptoms.


From late spring to late summer, keep the soil moist by watering once a week. Do not let it become waterlogged as this can lead to the rhizome and roots rotting. During the winter months, the Calla Lily will not require as much watering and can be kept almost dry. Once the rhizomes are established, you can water the plants once a week or more frequently if experiencing especially hot or drought-like conditions.

Calla lily plants potted indoors will need constant dampness, as pots will dry out sooner than garden plantings. Container-grown calla plants are usually watered when the first inch or two ( 2.5 – 5 cm ) of the soil is dry to the touch. They should then be watered deeply and properly. Brown greenery tips can suggest overwatering.

a field of white calla lilies
A field of white calla lilies Source: Carrie

Soil and Fertilizer

Calla lilies require loose, well-draining, and consistently moist soil enhanced with compost or aged manure. They prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.6 to 6.5, meaning acidic.

When fertilizing Calla Lilies you can use water-soluble all-purpose plant fertilizer as well as bulb fertilizer every month. You should apply the fertilizer more frequently when you start noticing the development of flowers.

However, you should stop fertilizing when the plant has already flowered. Well-fertilized Calla Lilies appear healthy and become capable of exceptional flowering. The fertilizers will help the plant to get what it requires.


The easiest way to propagate Calla Lilies is by dividing clumps of mature plants:

  • Do this every three or five years when clumps start to fade.
  • Use sharp, clean sheers or scissors.
  • Separate a rhizome from the plant’s root ball.
  • Wait a week for the cut to cure.
  • Plant the rhizome in a well-draining soil mix.
  • Plant them 3 – 4 inches (7- 10 cm) deep and 6 inches (15 cm) apart.


Calla Lilies don’t require consistent pruning, but you should deadhead the flowers as they droop. Taking away parts of the plant should not kill it. Wear gloves while doing this to avoid contact with the irritating sap. Calla Lilies don’t drop petals like many other plants when their flowers are done blooming.

Once the calla flower begins to die, it rolls up into a tube, often turning green on the outside. These spent blossoms on Calla Lily plants are done and should be cut off because they have no purpose.

calla lilies
Calla lilies as cut flowers Source: Paul


The plants do not mind the limitation within the pots, and will often grow very well and multiply within the potted space. Repotting Calla Lilies is pretty easy to do. Carefully lift the flowers out of their smaller pot and gently place them into the larger one taking care not to damage the fragile roots.

Pack the new pot with soil up to about an inch (2.5 cm) from the pot’s edge. One sign that your Calla Lilies are ready for a bigger pot is if the roots look slightly crowded. Root-bound plants are not likely to flourish, so you should replant your blooms if you notice an issue with their roots.


Common Calla Lily pests include aphids, caterpillars, Japanese beetles, spider mites, mealybugs, scale insects, and thrips. To easily spot and cure your plant from these pests, monitor your plant regularly. To get rid of these pests use insecticide regularly for a week, afterward keep an eye on your flower.


The most common disease you might cross while growing the Calla Lily flower is bacterial soft rot. The bacterial soft rot of Calla lily is caused by Erwinia carotovora. The soft rot infection begins in the upper portion of the corm and develops upward into leaf and flower stalks or down into roots. Damaged plants seem undersized and leaves turn yellow.

To treat this disease use concentrated copper fungicide, which controls various fungal diseases, including blights, leaf spots, mildews, and rots. The fungicide must be diluted with water at a rate of 1/2 to 2 ounces (14.8 to 59 ml) per 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of water before spraying the Calla Lilies thoroughly with the solution.

Final Thoughts

If you follow the basic care routine of Calla Lily you will be blessed with its beautiful presence for a long time. Calla Lilies are perennials, and you can save your potted plant and watch it bloom again next year. This colorful flower is perfect for beginners as a nice challenge, or experienced gardeners.

Every color of this flower should be easy to find but if you wish to add a bit of elegance or mystery you should go for the black colored flower. However, if you wish to get the one with black petals, you will need to search the web and markets because black ones are quite rare. In every way Calla Lily is a flower every plant lover grow at least once as it is beautiful and a great piece to brighten up any space.

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