Taking Care of Calla Lilies

Calla lily bloom image by Fir0002:commons.wikimedia.org


Calla lilies are semi-tropical perennial plants. They are grown both for their dramatic flowers as well as their distinctive foliage. Hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11, they are summer flowering bulbs that can be grown as annuals in cold climates. Calla lilies prefer light sun to partial shade and very moist soil. They need relatively low maintenance in the garden. Calla lily are grown in beds and borders as well as in containers and cutting gardens.

Step 1

Provide a nutrient rich moist soil for your calla bulbs. Amend the soil with compost each year and use organic mulch, such as shredded bark or cocoa hulls, around the base of the plants. The mulch will hold moisture in the soil and boost the nutrient content of the soil as it degrades.

Step 2

Water your calla lily so that the soil surrounding the plant is constantly and evenly moist to wet without standing water, which can cause rot. Water when the soil surface feels just slightly damp to the touch.

Step 3

Feed your calla lily plants with a good quality granular bulb fertilizer twice a year. Make the first application in the early spring and the second in the fall to recharge the bulb after bloom. Follow label directions for dosing, and water in the fertilizer thoroughly.

Step 4

Harvest calla lily blooms for cut flower arrangements by severing the stem at the base of the plant with clean pruning shears. Cut down spent blooms when they fade, and remove any damaged leaves as you see them.

Step 5

Dig and store bulbs in the fall in climates where they do not overwinter. Wait until the first frost has come and lift the bulbs from the ground, dusting them off and cutting off the top plant foliage. Set the bulbs in a shallow storage container filled with peat moss or clean dry sand. Bury the bulbs so they do not touch. Do not seal the container; this will prevent moisture buildup and rot. Plant the bulbs again in the spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Bulb fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Peat moss or clean sand
  • Storage container


  • University of Wisconsin
  • Easy to Grow Bulbs
  • University of Minnesota
Keywords: calla lily, summer bulb plant, care for calla lilies

About this Author

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo by: Fir0002:commons.wikimedia.org