How to Grow Cala Lilies


Calla lilies (Zantedeschia species) are not actually lilies but they are elegant flowers. The white calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is a native of South Africa where it thrives to such an extent that it is seen as a weed. Calla lilies grow from rhizomes, as irises do. Now available in a range of colors and sizes, all calla lilies are happy in warm weather and damp conditions. In cold climates the rhizomes will die in freezing temperatures. You can choose to let them expire or you can dig and store them for the next year.

Plant the Rhizome

Step 1

Find a garden area in full sun where you can keep the soil evenly moist. If your summer weather is extremely hot and sunny choose a spot with filtered sun.

Step 2

Determine where you will plant each calla lily rhizome, taking into account that they need to be one to two feet apart. Use your measuring tape and mark a spot for each plant.

Step 3

Put on your gardening gloves, pick up your trowel and dig a hole four-inches deep.

Step 4

Place the rhizome in the hole lying horizontally with any root fragments pointing downward. Press the soil around the rhizome and refill the hole with the soil you dug out. Pat the soil firmly at ground level.

Mulch and Water

Step 1

Mulch the rhizome by spreading a two-inch layer of compost above the planting hole.

Step 2

Water the composted planting area thoroughly with your hose.

Step 3

If the planting area does not receive regular rain then be sure to water the rhizome regularly to maintain moist soil.

Dig and Store

Step 1

If your garden freezes in the winter then in early fall use your trowel and dig up each calla lily rhizome.

Step 2

Let the rhizomes rest for a week in a dark, cool area.

Step 3

Package the rhizomes for the winter in a ventilated plastic bag filled with peat moss.

Step 4

Store the packed rhizomes in an area with temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5

Replant the rhizomes in the spring when the soil and air are warm again.

Tips and Warnings

  • The entire calla lily is toxic.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Measuring tape
  • Compost
  • Trowel
  • Calla lily rhizomes
  • Hose
  • Peat moss
  • Plastic bags


  • University of Illinois Extension; Calla Lilies
  • University of Minnesota Extension; Calla and Canna Lilies

Who Can Help

  • National Gardening Association
Keywords: calla lily grow, calla lily soil, calla lily store

About this Author

Daffodil Planter's writing appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, and she is the Sacramento Gardening Scene Examiner for A member of the Garden Writers Association, she has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and studies horticulture at Sierra College.