Native to Africa, calla lilies (Zantedeschia) are also known as Lily of the Nile. Prized for their distinctive shape, coloration and fragrance, calla lilies are used in floral arrangements for weddings. White calla lilies are symbolic of peace and purity. Colored calla lilies are available in delicate shades of cream, lemon, apricot, pink, burgundy and red. Provided with moisture and nutrient rich soil, calla lilies are easy-to-grow flowers that bring color to urban landscapes and cottage gardens.
Preparing the Soil
Prepare a planting area for your calla lilies in a location that receives morning sun. Callas require semi-shade in the afternoon during hot summer days. Calla lilies do best in a highly permeable, well-aerated soil with a pH of 6 to 7. Spread a 2 to 3 inch layer of well-aged herbivore manure and a 1- to 2-inch layer of peat moss on the planting area. Manure provides needed vitamins and minerals for the growing plant and the peat moss helps retain moisture in the soil. Cultivate well to a depth of 10 to 12 inches, removing weeds, rocks and roots. The soil should be worked until it is crumby and loose.
Planting Calla Tubers
Lay out your new calla lily tubers in a single layer in a dry, shaded area to harden off prior to planting. Tubers will have roots developing on the bottom and indications of growth on the top of the tuber. Plant 2 inches deep with growth pointing upward. Calla lilies make excellent houseplants and can be planted in various sized containers. Flowers will bloom within 60 to 90 days after planting.
When cutting calla lily flowers for floral arrangements, always leave at least 1/3 of the stem attached to the plant. The stems and leaves provide food for the tuber to develop and grow.
Calla lilies are sensitive to cold. They can be left in the soil in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 to 11. In colder climates, the tubers must be dug up and stored over the winter. Place in moist peat moss and store at 45 to 55 F. Replant in the spring. Add organic compost to spring soil to provide food for plant development.
During spring and summer growing season, feed calla lilies a diluted mixture of 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer monthly. Prepare it following package directions. Dilute half and half with water prior to application. Water around the base of the calla lily clumps.