Plant Care

Calla Lily Care: Growing, Watering and Fertilizing Tips

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Calla lily care requires well-draining soil and prefers partial shade to full sun. When watering, keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged, as they don't like to sit in water.

Regular watering during the growing season and occasional fertilization can help promote healthy growth and abundant flowering. They can be grown both indoors and outdoors, depending on the climate. Calla lilies are typically planted on rhizomes and can be propagated through division.

Overall, calla lilies are prized for their beauty, symbolism, and versatility, making them a popular choice for both gardeners and florists alike.

About Calla Lily

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Calla lilies belong to the genus Zantedeschia and are often referred to as Zantedeschia aethiopica or Zantedeschia rehmannii, depending on the species.

They have trumpet-shaped flowers with a single petal that wraps around a finger-like spadix. The flowers come in various colors, including white, pink, yellow, orange, and even deep purple.

They are often associated with purity, holiness, and faithfulness, making them popular choices for weddings and religious ceremonies.

There are two main types of calla lilies:

  • Indoor Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica): These tender perennials boast large white flowers and thrive in pots, offering year-round beauty indoors.
  • Outdoor Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia elliottiana): These hardy tuberous varieties come in an array of vibrant colors like yellow, pink, purple, and even black. They flourish in warm climates and add drama to summer gardens.

Also, learn about different types of lily flowers. While both types share some basic needs, there are slight differences in their care and growing conditions

How to Grow Calla Lily?

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Growing calla lilies indoors and outdoors involves some key differences in terms of environmental conditions, planting methods, and maintenance requirements. While both settings require attention to watering, fertilizing, and pest control, indoor calla lilies have specific needs related to light exposure and potting mix.

Outdoor calla lilies, on the other hand, must contend with natural weather conditions and soil types. Understanding these distinctions can help ensure the successful cultivation of calla lilies in each setting. Following are detailed steps on how to grow calla lilies. Also, check out these care tips for peace lily.

Choosing Your Calla Lily

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Indoor calla lilies, tender perennials, boast classic white blooms, making them ideal for year-round indoor enjoyment. They require warmer temperatures and consistent care.

Whereas outdoor calla lily is a hardy tuberous variety that comes in various colors, perfect for adding drama to summer gardens in warm climates. They withstand cooler temperatures but require dormancy periods.

Consider the following factors while choosing:

  • Climate: Match your selection to your local climate. Outdoor types need warmer summers than indoor ones.
  • Desired Color: Both types offer various colors, like pink, yellow, purple, and even black. Choose one that complements your taste and decor.
  • Space: Assess your available space. Outdoor varieties can grow up to 3–4 feet tall, while indoor ones typically reach around 1-2 feet.

Ensure Proper Timing

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Timing plays a crucial role in cultivating beautiful calla lilies, both indoors and outdoors. The sweet spot for planting indoor lilies falls in the spring after all, danger of frost has passed. Aim for late March to April in most temperate climates. This allows the soil to warm up sufficiently and minimizes the risk of damage to young plants.

For outdoor planting, plant tubers only after the last frost of the season. Typically, late May to early June is safe in warmer regions, but consider local frost patterns for precise timing. Ensure the soil temperature reaches at least 65°F (18°C) for optimal growth.

Choose Well-drained, moist Soil

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For both outdoor and indoor Calla Lilies, the key requirement for their soil is that it be well-draining, moist, and rich in organic matter. This ensures proper water flow and aeration while also providing essential nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant blooms.

For indoor plants,  use a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for flowering plants. These mixes typically have a good balance of drainage, moisture retention, and nutrients. Look for a mix that contains ingredients like perlite, vermiculite, or coco coir for drainage and peat moss or compost for organic matter.

Similarly, for outdoor gardening, amend your existing soil with compost, aged manure, or other organic matter to improve drainage, moisture retention, and fertility. You can also mix in some perlite or sand to improve drainage, especially if your soil is naturally heavy clay.

Follow the Planting Process

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The planting process for calla lilies is slightly different for indoor and outdoor varieties, but the general steps are the same.

Preparation

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Select a healthy tuber with no visible signs of damage or disease. Look for firm, plump tubers with multiple "eyes" (growing points) on the surface. You'll need a trowel, gardening gloves, a bucket for watering, and the chosen potting mix or soil amendment.

For indoor plants, choose a pot with drainage holes and a size that accommodates the tuber without being too large. For outdoor planting, amend your garden bed with compost or manure to improve drainage and fertility.

Planting Steps

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  • Dig the hole

    • Dig a hole 2-3 times the depth of the tuber and twice its width. This ensures proper root development and drainage.
  • Position the tuber

    • Gently place the tuber in the hole with the "eyes" facing upwards. These are the points from which new shoots will emerge.
  • Cover the tuber

    • Carefully cover the tuber with soil, leaving about 2 inches exposed for indoor varieties and 4 inches for outdoor ones. Avoid burying the tuber too deeply, as this can hinder growth.
  • Water thoroughly

    • Give your newly planted Calla a generous watering to settle the soil around the tuber and hydrate its roots.

Watering Tips for Calla Lily

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Calla lilies, with their elegant trumpet-shaped blooms, require consistent moisture to flourish. But overwatering can be just as detrimental as underwatering. Here's a comprehensive guide to watering your Calla lilies for optimal growth:

Key Principles

  • Maintain consistently moist soil. Aim for soil that feels damp to the touch but not soggy.
  • Water deeply: Water thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes, ensuring all roots receive moisture.
  • Avoid overwatering. Soggy soil can lead to root rot and damage.
  • Adjust watering based on conditions: Factors like temperature, humidity, pot size, and rainfall require adjustments.

Specific Watering Guidelines

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Indoor Calla Lilies:

Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. During hot weather, you may need to water more frequently. In cooler months or low-light conditions, reduce watering.

Tips

  • Mist the leaves occasionally to increase humidity, especially during dry periods.
  • Avoid letting water sit in the pot saucer, as this can lead to root rot.
  • Consider using a moisture meter to help gauge soil moisture levels.

Outdoor Calla Lilies:

Water deeply when the top two inches of soil feel dry. Adjust based on rainfall and weather conditions.

Tips:

  • Mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Water more frequently during hot, dry periods and less frequently during rainy periods.
  • Be mindful of overwatering, especially in heavy clay soil.

Additional Considerations

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  • Dormant Period:
    • Indoor: Reduce watering significantly during the fall and winter when growth slows down.
    • Outdoor: Dig up and store tubers in a cool, dry place before the first frost in colder climates.
  • Pot Size: Smaller pots dry out faster than larger ones, so adjust the watering frequency accordingly.
  • Plant Variety: Some Calla Lily varieties may have slightly different watering requirements.

Fertilizing Guide for Calla Lily

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Nourishing your Calla lilies with the right fertilizer is essential for encouraging healthy growth and maximizing those stunning blooms. Here's a comprehensive guide to fertilizing both indoor and outdoor varieties:

Choose the Right Fuel

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Opt for a balanced liquid fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). This provides the essential nutrients for both foliage and flower development. Always dilute your chosen fertilizer to half-strength before applying. Concentrated solutions can damage roots.

Feeding Schedules

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Indoor Callas: During their active growing season (spring and summer), feed them monthly. As fall approaches and growth slows, reduce fertilizing frequency or stop altogether. During winter dormancy, they don't need any fertilizer.

Outdoor Callas: Apply fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season (typically spring to early fall). Stop fertilizing before winter arrives to allow the plant to prepare for dormancy.

Application Tips

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Water your calla lily thoroughly before applying fertilizer. This helps prevent root burn and ensures nutrients reach the roots effectively. Apply the diluted fertilizer directly to the soil around the base of the plant, avoiding the leaves and flowers.

For a quick boost, you can try foliar feeding by misting diluted fertilizer onto the leaves during the morning hours. Be sure to avoid strong sunlight while doing this.

Additional Considerations

  • Young Plants: Young Calla lilies might benefit from more frequent fertilizing, every two weeks during their active growth phase.
  • Soil Quality: If your soil is already rich in nutrients, you might need to fertilize less frequently. Conversely, nutrient-poor soil may require more frequent feeding.
  • Listen to Your Plant: Observe your Calla lily's growth and flowering. If the leaves are pale or the blooms seem small, you might need to increase fertilization. Conversely, if the leaves are excessively dark green or the plant becomes leggy, reduce fertilizing.

Calla Lily Care Indoors

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Bringing the elegance of calla lilies indoors requires a touch of TLC. Here's a quick guide:

  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight (east or north window) is ideal. Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Water deeply when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter.
  • Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 60 and 80°F (15 and 27°C). Avoid drafts and extreme heat.
  • Fertilizer: Feed monthly during the spring and summer with diluted liquid fertilizer. Stop in the fall and winter.
  • Humidity: Mist occasionally, especially in dry spells, to increase humidity.

Additional Care

  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowering.
  • Remove yellow or damaged leaves.
  • Repot annually before the growing season.
  • Rotate the pot regularly for even light exposure.

Calla Lily Care Outdoors

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Embrace the beauty of calla lilies in your garden with these key care tips:

  • Location: Choose a spot with full sun in cooler climates or filtered sun in hotter areas. Protect from strong winds.
  • Planting: After the last frost, plant tubers in well-draining, moist soil amended with compost or manure.
  • Watering: Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry, allowing for good drainage. Mulch around the base to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Feeding: Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, stopping before winter arrives.
  • Temperature: Ensure soil temperatures stay above 50°F (10°C) for healthy growth.
  • Dormancy: Before the first frost in colder climates, dig up and store tubers in a cool, dry place like a garage or shed.

Additional Care

  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowering.
  • Remove yellow or damaged leaves.
  • Divide overcrowded clumps every few years for healthy growth.
  • Protect from pests and diseases like slugs and snails.