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How to fertilize calla lilies

Updated July 20, 2017

Calla lilies are a gorgeous and graceful addition to any landscape. Understanding their basic care and fertilising needs will help ensure that your garden's calla lilies stand out beautifully.

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  1. Plant bulbs approximately 2 inches deep in well-drained soil. While watering is necessary and the soil should never completely dry out, over watering bulbs is a common mistake. In planting zone 7 and above, where temperatures are warmer, calla lilies should be planted in partial sun; however, in cooler areas, direct sun would be best.

  2. Use a medium grade loose mulch and a rich loose top soil for best results. Mulching is as important as fertilising with calla lilies. Mulch helps hold moisture in the soil without over-saturation and, in fact, aids in plant growth much like a fertiliser would. Choosing a mulch that is insect resistant, such as cedar, is always a wise choice.

  3. Use a 20-20-20 fertiliser. This is a common, well balanced fertiliser, but if you have trouble finding it, use a fertiliser as close to this composition as possible. If you're starting calla lilies in pots, fertilise every other week for 6 to 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, fertilise monthly. If grown from bulbs, fertilise as the plants break the ground and every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. There's no need to continue a fertilising once plants have begun to bloom. If your plants have dark tips on the leaves, cut back on the fertiliser or the frequency. If that doesn't resolve the problem, make sure you are not over-watering.

  4. Add coffee grounds around the base of the plants once they've broken the ground to encourage growth. Calla lilies like a more acidic soil, so coffee grounds are a terrific "in between fertilising" boost.

  5. Don't be alarmed if your calla lilies don't bear brilliant blooms for the first year. Whether started in pots or with bulbs, calla lilies can take a while to come to their fullest beauty. However, when they do, you'll realise that these magnificent plants are well worth the wait!

  6. Tip

    To give the best care to your calla lilies, always consult a nursery in your location to get the most specific care advice for your region. Start with healthy bulbs. No rotting and not completely dried out. Give plenty of room to calla lilies. They will grow full and multiply with time.


    Avoid planting calla lilies where they're not protected from strong wind.

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Things You'll Need

  • 20-20-20 fertiliser
  • Insect resistant mulch
  • Coffee grounds

About the Author

Carol Tilley-Williams has been a freelance writer and published author for 12 years. She was a guest editor for Poetworks Press, LLC, and also taught performing arts. Tilley-Williams attended Jefferson State Jr. College in Birmingham, Alabama, where she received the distinguished Ruby Carson Outstanding Student Award, wrote for the college newspaper, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

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