Think of wedding bouquets and flower arrangements, and you will usually see calla lilies. White is the common color. Colored hybrids are available in pink, yellow, orange, green, and purple. There are also dwarf varieties, among them Little Gem and Childsiana. Calla lilies’ need for sun rays varies from full to partial sun, depending on the climate. Calla lilies are native to Africa and can grow up to 2.5 m tall.
Calla Lily Tubers
Calla lilies grow from tubers that develop after the flowering period, so keep up with care. If you live in Zones 9 and 10 (USDA Plant Hardiness Zoning Map), you can leave them in the ground during winter. Otherwise, they need to be dug and stored for about three months in a well ventilated, dark, dry place. Store the calla lily tubers mixed in vermiculite or peat moss. When frost danger has passed, plant the tubers on their side about two inches in depth.
Division or Seeds?
Calla lilies grow well from division, but you can also use seeds. If you do grow from seeds, you can plant them right away upon removing the seeds from the pods. If you plan to grow calla lilies for your own wedding, you should allow for at least 14 weeks prior to the date. It takes about that long for calla lilies to bloom.
Cultivate the calla lilies in the spring if you have a constant temperature of above 55°. If this is not possible, start your pots indoor where the temperature is below 80°F. Situate them away from heating and air conditioning vents to prevent changes in temperature. In frost-free places, the seedlings can be placed outdoors in shady locations that are protected from wind, rain, etc. If you are using pots to grow your calla lilies, the six-inch ones are the most commonly used.
Fertilizing Calla Lilies
Fertilize calla lilies with 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphate, potash) fertilizer. To make your own potting soil, add one part each of sphagnum peat moss and perlite to three parts of commercial potting soil. To encourage healthy roots, add bone meal, about four tablespoons to a gallon of mixture. Under normal conditions, calla lilies will begin to bloom somewhere between 60 to 90 days. Stop the fertilizer when the calla lilies begin to flower.
Do Not Over-Water
Calla lilies prefer dampness, not wetness. Make sure you water your calla lilies well, but do not let the water sit in the container. Sitting water can invite root rot and prevent your calla lily bulbs from forming. On the other hand, leaving them dry will shorten the life of your calla lilies. The colorful calla lilies require a period of dormancy after flowering. Withhold water for about three months and resume irrigation. This will help encourage new growth.
A Word of Caution
Although calla lilies are excellent houseplant because of their year-round lush foliage, do not forget that they are highly toxic and can be fatal to children and pets. Be careful where you locate your calla lilies containers.