The graceful, curving blooms of calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) are a staple at florists and make an attractive addition to your own home-grown bouquets. Callas are bulb plants that grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. They can bloom all year in warmer climates.
In chillier climates, treat them as annuals and enjoy them for one season. Another idea is to grow them as container plants and bring them indoors when it is cold. Alternatively, dig up and store the bulbs indoors over winter.
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Cut Callas Properly
You can cut callas at any time while they're in bloom, and they will last a few days. However, the best time to cut them is the day they open. Younger blooms last longer. That means you should not cut a plant for a bouquet if the pollen on the stalk in the center of the flower has started to shed.
Use a clean, sharp pruning tool to cut calla lily flower stems. Dull blades mess up the stems as you cut. Make your cuts near the base of the plant. This prevents the cut stems from ruining the garden aesthetic. Removing the flower stems does not hurt the plants.
Do callas need any other type of pruning? They really don't require much. Take the time to clip off yellowing and wilted leaves as you see them to keep the garden looking good. As for the plant's health, pruning doesn't really affect it.
Always sterilize cutting tools before use on calla lilies. This prevents the spread of disease and dirt that could damage the plants or make the cut flowers wilt quicker. Mix a solution of 1 part bleach or pine oil cleaner with 3 parts water and then soak the tools for five minutes. Rinse disinfected tools with clean water before use.
Display the Cut Callas
Calla lilies, like most other cut flowers, do best when given water immediately. Prepare the vase or container before you begin cutting the stems and take it with you to the garden. Then, as soon as you cut a calla lily stem, place it in a container filled with at least 2 inches of lukewarm water.
Water alone will keep the calla stem hydrated. However, some experts recommend that you should put a flower food solution in the water in the container you take to the garden as well as in the vase you use when arranging calla lilies.
Look for food solutions in garden centers and craft stores. Alternatively, you can make your own by blending 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, a few drops of bleach, and 4 cups of water.
Wrap an elastic band around the bottom of each flower stem when you place it in the water. This is said to keep air bubbles from traveling up the stems and to increase the vase life of calla lily flowers. Leave the band on for one hour and then remove it and let the callas sit in the water for one more hour before you start arranging them.
When you're ready to arrange the callas, pour 2 inches of a water and flower food solution into the vase. When you cut calla stems to the desired length for your arrangement, make all cuts underwater. This is easier if you fill a basin or the sink with water. Only remove the stems from the water when moving them from one container to another.
Calla flowers last for seven to 10 days after cutting. Check the water level in the vase daily and add a flower food and water mixture as needed to keep the water level at 2 inches deep.