How to Plant & Maintain Calla Lillies

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With a botanical name like Zantedeschia aethiopica, it would be easy to feel intimidated by the calla lily. If you're concerned that growing callas is as difficult as pronouncing that technical name, rest easy. With a graceful, velvety ivory-colored spathe and elegant yellow spadix, the simple beauty of the calla lily is easy to cultivate in your home garden. Special care is necessary for winter in climate zones lower than 6. Note the warning section if you are growing near pets and children.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Organic compost
  • Mulch
  • Shovel
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Peat moss
  • Containers

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  1. 1

    Choose a site for the calla lily that has good drainage. Lilies like sun on their faces but cool feet, so plant where the flowers can touch sunlight and the roots are shaded.

  2. 2

    Plant callas in the spring, as they are considered a summer blooming bulb. Areas with colder temperatures can't overwinter calla rhizomes outdoors, so spring planting will provide the best chance of summer blooms.

  3. 3

    Prepare the site by tilling organic matter into the soil. This loosens soil for root establishment and adds nutrients.

  4. 4

    Dig a hole four to six inches deep for the calla lily rhizome and cover it with soil. Allow six to eight inches between rhizomes for adequate air circulation and the spread of mature plants.

  5. 5

    Water well and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season.

  6. 6

    Fertilize monthly with a diluted 5-10-10 fertilizer for best bloom production and growth. Apply the first dose when the shoots emerge.

  7. 7

    Cut back brown, spent foliage at the end of the season to ground level. Apply heavy mulch around the plants in the fall. In zones lower than 6, dig the rhizomes up and allow them to dry for up to two days. Store them covered with peat moss in containers with good ventilation. Keep them in a cool, dark place for the winter.

Tips and warnings

  • Calla lilies are fatally poisonous to children and animals, so be very careful when choosing a planting site. Wear protective gloves when handling the plant; they may cause skin irritation.

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