How to Plant & Maintain Calla Lilies


A flower that produces only one petal may not sound like much, but the calla lily knows how to make the most of a singular petal. It is a dramatic flower that comes in a variety of colors, though sunny yellow and classic white may be the most popular hues. The calla lily is not a true lily, but like other lilies it is a low maintenance plant that gives much more than it requires. Plant calla lilies in the spring and enjoy their showy blooms all summer long.


Step 1

Dig a 4-inch deep hole in a sunny area of your garden where the soil drains well.

Step 2

Place the calla lily rhizome into the hole in a horizontal position. Position the rhizome so the side with growth is facing up and the side with roots is facing down. Space calla lilies a minimum of 12 inches apart if you are planting more than one.

Step 3

Cover the new planting with soil and water well. Keep the calla lily evenly moist to ensure strong root growth.


Step 1

Water your calla lily regularly, especially when the weather is hot. Do not soak the plant or make it sit in a puddle, but keep it evenly moist.

Step 2

Fertilize your calla lily with regular feedings of compost, liquid or granulated fertilizer. Apply a thin layer of compost twice a month during the blooming season or follow the manufacturers directions for commercial fertilizers.

Step 3

Cut back dying foliage with garden shears when the plant is dormant. Leave approximately 2 inches of stem remaining in the ground to locate the flowers if necessary. Trim weak or yellowing foliage as needed if you live in a growing zone where calla lilies do not experience dormancy.

Step 4

Thin the bulbs once every year or two after the plants are well established. Calla lilies continue to propagate and form new rhizomes, causing the bed to become crowded and the plants to become stunted and weak. Dig up the plants after they have bloomed and the foliage begins to die back, usually in late fall after the first frost. Separate the rhizomes and replant the strongest, healthiest bulbs with proper spacing. Discard or replant the extra lilies in a new area.

Step 5

Dig up and store your calla lily rhizomes after the first frost if you live in a growing zone that experiences severe winters. Cut back the foliage and carefully unearth the rhizomes with your spade or shovel. Wipe off excess dirt. Store the rhizomes in a bucket or basket and cover them with peat moss. Keep them in a dark, cool, dry place until spring when the threat of frost has passed and they can be replanted.

Tips and Warnings

  • Watch for signs of over-fertilizing. Leaves may become brown and "burnt" at the edges if the plant receives too much nitrogen. Cut back on your fertilizer if this happens.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Shears
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Peat moss


  • Gardening Know How: Calla Lily Care
  • Calla Lily Guide: Growing Calla Lilies from Bulbs
  • Calla Lily Guide: Calla Lily Care
Keywords: calla lily care, planting calla lilies, calla lily maintenance

About this Author

Jo Burns is a freelance writer living in California. She has been a writer since 1980. Her publications include "The Serapeum," "Familiar," "Tellus" and "Pitkin Review." She specializes in articles relating to health, travel, writing and crafting. In 2008, Burns received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College.