Calla lily yellowing leaves

Help For Yellowing Calla Lilies: Why Calla Lily Leaves Turn Yellow

The leaves of a healthy calla lily are a deep, rich green. If your houseplant or garden list includes calla lily, yellowing leaves can be a sign that something is wrong with your plant. A calla lily turning yellow can be an indication of a number of problems, but most of them are easily fixed. Learn why calla lily leaves turn yellow, and more importantly, what to do about it to save your callas.

Reasons for Yellow Leaves on Calla Lilies

If your biggest plant problem is, “My calla lily leaves are yellowing,” you should look beneath the soil for the

answers. Yellow leaves are a sign of problems in the roots of the plant, for a number of different reasons.

Yellowing leaves, known as chlorosis, is sometimes caused by a nutrient shortage in the soil, most often nitrogen, iron, zinc or some other trace element. Either your soil is actually lacking this trace element, or there is something in the roots that is preventing the nutrients from being absorbed. Check with your local extension service about testing your soil.

Another common reason for yellowing calla lilies is root rot. Calla lily plants don’t like to have their roots constantly soaked in puddles of water. Too much moisture causes the roots to begin rotting, along with contracting other diseases, and will wither the plant’s leaves.

How to Treat Yellow Leaves on Calla Lilies

Treating yellow leaves on calla lily plants involves dealing with the actual planting environment. If possible, dig up the plants and transfer them to a spot with well-drained soil, preferably a raised bed. Plant the rhizomes carefully to avoid injury, and never over water the plants once they have been established.

Calla Lilies Turning Yellow Advices: Causes for yellowing leaves

Normally, the leaves on Calla lilies have a deep, rich green color. If you are growing a Calla lily, don’t ignore the warning sign of yellowing leaves. For Calla lilies, yellowing leaves go along with lots of problems, fortunately, most problem can be handled easily. Keep reading to learn what causes yellowing Calla Lilies and how to save what can you do to save them.

Causes for Calla Lilies Leaves to Turn Yellow

Examine the soil immediately when you find out your Calla Lilies leaves have yellow color. Because, yellowing leaves indicates that your Calla lilies having some problems in the roots of the plants with many different reasons.

Sometimes, shortage of soil nutrient such as nitrogen, iron, zinc or some other trace element might lead to yellowing leaves, or a yellowing of leaf tissue, also known as chlorosis. Calla lilies might have problems either lacking this trace element, or the root cannot function correctly which inhibit nutrients absorption. Sending soil samples for your local extension service to find out whether something is wrong with the soil.

Rotten roots are known as another common reason for yellow leaves. Over water these plant can cause some serious problem for its roots. High humidity leads to rotten roots, and many other diseases and finally the death of the plant as the leaves wither.

What to Do When Calla Lilies Turning Yellow

Only when you start doing something with planting environment, you can take care of yellow leaves properly. Dig up and move the plant to well-drained soil, try gardening using raised bed method if possible. Dig up the plants and transfer them to a spot with well-drained soil, preferably a raised bed. Be careful not causing any injuries for the rhizomes when planting it and do not over water these plants.

How do I keep my Mother’s Day calla lily going? | The Kansas City Star


I received a calla lily for Mother’s Day. It is still in the pot I received it in & is doing ok but not great. Can you tell me how to care for it? Thank you, Mary


I’m guessing you wish to keep the plant indoors. A Calla Lily likes 6 hrs of bright, indirect light, and should be kept away from drafts (heating or air conditioning vents). The soil should be well-draining and should be moist at all times, that’s moist, not soggy. Fertilizing with a with a low nitrogen fertilizer monthly is a good idea, but stop fertilizing when the bloom begins to die back. Their ideal temperature range is 50-75 degrees. With that being said callas are very high light requiring plants. It is best that the plant be grown outdoors for the summer in a more sunny location. Indoors they will struggle with the lower light.

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The rhizome needs to go through a rest period of several months. So when the bloom dies, stop watering, let the foliage die, cut it off, remove the rhizome from the pot and store in a cool, dark, not to damp location. After the rest period, repot in fresh well draining soil, water, fertilize and move it to a warmer location. Don’t water quite as much as normal, until the green leaves begin to appear. If you move outdoors bring back inside before a frost and withhold water so that it goes dormant. It can be kept over winter in the garage if it does not freeze or the basement. Bring back outdoors next spring after danger of frost is past.

You mention that your plant is doing okay, but not great,. Without knowing specifically what the problem is, here are some things to watch for. Be careful not to over water, if the leaf tips are brown this might be the problem. Likewise, make sure to follow the care guidelines above. Are there any pests present? Like scale or aphids? If the flower is still good and the leaves and stems are turning yellow, this could be a sign of a rotting rhizome, which is the reason not to over watering. But again, without more details, it is hard to answer this part of your question. Please feel free to re-post a question to the blog with more details.

Hope this helps.

Carole-Johnson County Extension Master Gardener

The name of this beautiful flower that originates from a marshy soil in South Africa comes from the Greek word ‘Καλά’ that means ‘good, beautiful’. Despite that name, Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is not really a lily but a plant from the Araceae family. A Swedish botanist mistakenly cataloged it as a lily in the 18th century, and that name has remained until today.

We know that Calla lily was depicted for the first time in 1664 in a Royal Garden of Paris illustration. In the US, it became popular in the 20th century. This funnel-like perennial flower can be white (it is the most fragrant variety), cream, yellow, orange, pink, fuchsia, and red. It is so gorgeous that many brides choose this particular flower for their wedding bouquets.

Calla Lily Varieties

This perennial flower grows from bulbous roots and blooms in late spring. You can plant it in a container or in your garden, but be prepared that it is pretty challenging plants to care for. Also, don’t let this beauty to fool you. This symbol of purity is extremely toxic when ingested.

Calla Lily


Arum, Calla, Zantedeschia


Dry swamps in South Africa


Up to 80 cm


White, cream, yellow, orange, pink, fuchsia, red, purple, and black


Dark-green, arrow-shaped


Between May and August


In a pot or un the garden


Yes, handle this flower carefully

The most popular types of Calla lilies are:

  • Calla palustris – This popular house plant is a domestic flower in cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Zantedeschia – Native to South Africa. Nowadays it is grown as a house plant.
  • Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lily) – Native to South Africa. It can be easily grown in the garden.

There are a lot of different varieties of Zantedeschia, and they can be roughly classified as ‘hardy’ and ‘tender’ depending on temperatures they can survive. Zantedeschia aethiopica is a hardy variety of this plant, and it can survive unbelievable temperatures of -13 F (-25 C).

Some of my favorite varieties of this mesmerizing plant are:

1. Hardy forms

  • Zantedeschia Cantor

The deep purple (almost black) Calla is probably the most popular variety of this beautiful flower. These gorgeous and mysterious plants require humus-rich and moist soil, but, unlike other types, they tolerate more water even at the time of flowering. Expect them to bloom between May and October.

  • Zantedeschia lipstick

Who wouldn’t like these gentle cream flowers? Just provide humus-rich soil, enough compost, and an adequate sunny place, and they will beautify your garden between May and October.

  • Zantedeschia aethiopica

This premium variety, also known as White Arum Lily, is a gorgeous outdoor flower that flourishes from late May to June. It is hugely moisture tolerant and can grow in water garden settings. If you add extra mulch, this plant can survive outdoors in the USA.

  • Zantedeschia jucunda

You can plant this adorable yellow arum in the well-drained soil, and it will flourish from November to January in the rocky environment.

2. Tender forms

  • Zantedeschia elliottiana

Unfortunately, you can’t successfully plant this hybrid origin variety outdoors, but you may find a nice place at your porch or balcony for it.

  • Zantedeschia rehmannii

Pink Calla Lily is a small to medium plant that blooms during the summer. This beauty prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Surprisingly, it doesn’t require too much attention if planted correctly.

  • Zantedeschia albomaculata

This pure white or yellow perennial flower is often desired part of large flower arrangements. You can easily recognize it by the white spotted leaves. This adaptable plant can grow in a flower border or at the edge of some water.

Why We Should Plant Calla Lilies

1. Attract Pollinators

These colorful, fragrant flowers are a real lure for hummingbirds and all kind of butterflies who search for nectar. If you want your garden full of these magnificent creatures, Calla lilies are a premium choice.

2. Repel rabbits and deer

These flowers are entirely deer and rabbit resistant which make them an excellent choice for an unfenced garden. Perhaps you can think about making a Calla lilies fence along your property. Why not?

3. Fill in empty space in summer

Use Calla lilies to fill empty space in your garden in early summer before other flowers flourish. Just put at least three rhizomes in the same hole between other plants, and enjoy fireworks colors from the first day of the summer. The best choice is to complement your Calla Lily with Hydrangeas, Dahlia, Canna, Astilbes, Asparagus fern, and New Guinea impatiens.

Growing Calla lilies in your garden

1. Material you need

In general, you don’t need any special material for planting your Calla Lilies. Just prepare everything you usually use for seeding:

  • Compost
  • Sand
  • Organic mulch
  • Shovel
  • Hand trowel

2. Location

For Calla Lilies, you should find a sunny place with plenty of light. However, these flowers need to be protected from the full sun throughout the day. Try to locate them at the position with afternoon shade. Also, since Callas don’t like being directly exposed to a large amount of rain, you should try to find a protected location for them if it is possible.

3. Soil

Callas can be very picky and require well-drained, but continuously moist soil. If you have any stream, pond, or any other artificial wet soil in your garden, your Callas will entirely enjoy, and you can expect constant and lush flowering in return.

4. Planting

The springtime (from March to May) is a perfect period for planting Calla lilies. After the soil warms to 60 F (15.5 C), you should select a well-drained piece of ground in your garden, dig it a little bit, and add a thin layer of compost (approximately one inch) and the same layer of sand.

Mix them with the soil, make two to four inches (5-10 cm) deep hole and put three, five, or seven bulbs in it. I really don’t know why, but you should plant odd numbers of flowers to get the best results. Try to lower the smooth side of the rhizome down while the bumpy side should be facing up.

After planting rhizome, put a thin layer of organic mulch on the top. That way you will reduce evaporation and consequential loss of water. To avoid rot, don’t water soil too much until your flower starts growing.

Just be sure that holes are at least six to twelve inches (15-30 cm) apart from each other. Take care that your Callas need soil that always stays moderately moist. In such conditions, expect them to bloom until late summer.

5. Winter protection

In autumn, before the appearance of frost, move your plants indoors and let them rest. If you decide to leave bulbs in the ground during winter, you should divide and replant them every few years to stimulate better growth and lush flowering.

You can also dig the rhizomes from the garden and store them into the pot in a dry room. Provide a dry place for them and take care that the temperature is not lower than 55 F (13 C). When spring comes, prepare the soil and replant Callas in the garden.

Take Care of Your Beautiful Calla Lilies

If you fulfill many demands this flower has, you will get a healthy, beautiful plant which blossoms every single year.

1. Watering

Since Calla Lily is a swamp plant and you can’t expect this flower tolerates a more extended period of drought. It requires moist soil, but not excessive watering. It would be enough to water your Callas when spotting that soil is lightly dry, but be careful and never overdo.

If you not sure how often you need to water your plants, you should make a simple test. After planting, water the soil thoroughly and pay attention to it over the next few weeks. Then, check the moisture at a depth of about one inch (2.5 cm).

If the soil is dry, you should water your flowers carefully. If not, you should wait with watering. I am pretty sure that you don’t want your lily bulbs to start rotting before they flourish.

Warning – If you notice dark leaves on your flowers, be sure that they are over-watered.

Even though Callas don’t like being directly exposed to the rain, rainwater can be an excellent solution for watering them, especially during the growth and flowering.

2. Temperatures

Since Callas begin to grow in autumn, try to keep them at temperatures from 50 to 60 F (10-15 C) during this period. In the growth phase, this flower likes the warmer location. Once flowering period comes, the partially shady place will be perfect for this lovely flower.

Expect ideal blooming if you live in the region where the average temperatures are not below 70 F (21 C). If you live at the colder regions, just pick out varieties that tolerate lower temperatures.

3. Fertilizing

Regularly add liquid fertilizer to the water and fertilize your Callas while blossoming in the spring and summer. Repeat the process once or twice a month until early autumn. These flowers don’t need any fertilizer when the weather becomes colder during fall and winter.

While bulbs need fertilizer more often, once your Callas bloom, you can stop fertilizing. Moreover, if you add too much fertilizer, you will notice dark tips on the plants’ leaves.

4. Trimming

Trimming is not a big deal when you grow Callas. Just cut off yellow leaves and withered blossoms. That’s it! However, you can always put some of the blooms into a vase if you like that way.

Keep in mind that it is a better option to cut stems as close as possible to the root tube. It is also a good idea to trim your plants above the bulbs before winter rest.

Pests and Diseases and How to Fight Them

Unfortunately, Calla lilies are prone to various diseases. If you don’t treat your plants on time, you can expect severe damage. Usually, the main reasons for these conditions are over-watering and the poor quality soil.

  • The ring mosaic virus – This virus causes yellow spots and stripes on the plant’s stem and foliage. Also, affected Callas can’t bloom properly. The only cure is to destroy a whole flower and prevent the spreading of the virus.
  • Bacteria – They usually cause stem rot by attacking their lower parts. After spreading the infection down to the roots, your plant will definitely die. Therefore, you should apply the only possible solution – destroy every affected plant and let the others grow healthy. If you spot any unusual changes in your flowers including brown foliage, rotting, bad smelling, or the occurrence of stains on the leaves, you can be sure that something bad is a cause. Don’t hesitate to solve it right away.
  • Spider mites – You can find these pests under plant’s leaves. They feed on the juices from foliage and turn the leaves to an ugly gray-yellow pile. Try to spray affected Callas with water, and repeat treatment when needed.
  • Aphids – If you notice these small insects on your Callas, destroy them by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Greenflies – Sometimes you will find greenflies on your flowers. This infestation is pretty usual during the winter rest. Spray your Callas with a soap dissolved in water and cut off affected parts. In severe cases, solve the problem by using insecticides.


I can’t emphasize enough how much the Callas are poisonous when ingested inadvertently. Some people can experience skin irritation, rash, and allergic reaction even if they touch this plant or when they come in contact with excreting from the leaves that contain irritants.

Try to keep your children and pets far away from this flower if you want to enjoy its beauty without any fear. If you notice symptoms such as mouth burning, tongue swelling, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after accidental ingestion a part of the plant, you need to contact your doctor right away.

The Calla Lily originates in South African swamps, but should be cultivated in a room. You can also put this dainty beauty outside during the summer, if the warmth allows it. The calla lily also captivates everyone, if placed on your windowsill, with its yellow, lilac, white, or pink blossoms.

Plant Profile

  • other names: Arum, Calla, Zantedeschia
  • origin: dry swamps in South Africa
  • height: up to 80 cm
  • cup-shaped blossoms
  • colours: white, yellow, lilac, pink, or orange
  • blossoms between May and August
  • every single shoot ends in such a blossom
  • dark-green, arrow-shaped leaves
  • frame every single blossom
  • predominantly house plant
  • only cultivate in a pot
  • poisonous and should be handled with care

The demanding Calla Lily originates in the dried-out swamps of South Africa. That’s why it also has a lot of location demands, once it arrives in our realms. It must not be outside during autumn and winter, but will find a better place on a windowsill, or table, in a room that’s not too warm. Here its delicate blossoms can impress in many colours. The plant is unfortunately very poisonous and should be handled with care.

This graceful plant really deserves its name, which can be translated with ‚beautiful‘ and is ascribed to the Grecian goddess Calliope. Calliope was also called extremely beautiful in Greek myths. Zantedeschia on the other hand, is dedicated to its discoverer, the Italian Giovanni Zantedeschi, who was a botanist during the 18th century and discovered this bulb plant. He brought it to Europe and cultivated it.


Calla Lilies come with many demands, if you fulfil them, they will grow healthily and develop beautiful blossoms every year. Since it must not be outside during the winter, we recommend cultivation in a pot, that can be moved from location to location. You will have a lot of joy with this plant, if you follow the following care directions.


The intense need for care of the Calla Lily already shows itself when choosing a good location. It’s the first of many demands.

The ideal location should therefore be chosen like this:

  • bright and sunny
  • no direct midday sun
  • warm
  • temperatures between 16 and 21 degrees celsius are desired
  • no cold draught
  • avoid cold win
  • put it on your windowsill or table during the winter
  • outside during the summer
  • ideally in a terrace corner or shielded balcony

Soil Conditions

Since the origin of the calla lily lies in South African swamps, it does not have a lot of demands concerning soil conditions.


If you want to choose the best substrate for your calla lily, then there are many possibilities. You can use customary and normal flower or pot soil. Garden soil is also no problem for the plant. The only thing that counts is the substrate’s freshness, since old soil can hold pathogen that the calla lily will not tolerate. We therefore recommend to use high-quality soil that has been newly bought. The soil should also always be lightly moist and not dry out.

Planting Time

Ideal planting time for the calla lily is spring, during March to May, if the plant should be kept outside during the summer. If you are planting a constant house plant, you can also plant Patch Planting

The Zantedeschia is not suitable for patch planting, since it’s not frost-resistant and has to be kept in a warm room during the colder months. There are some of the calla species that can be kept outside during the winter, but the calla lily is not one of them.

Pot Planting

The pot has to be prepared bevor planting, since the calla lily does not tolerate water-logging. To prevent this, you should apply a drainage made of stones and shards above the drain hole. Another layer of planting fleece should be applied above that layer. by doing this, not wet soil can clog the drain and water cannot be stored inside the soil.

After putting in the drainage, just follow these steps:

  • fill half with the prepared soil
  • insert the calla lily’s bulb five to seven centimetres deep
  • fill with leftover soil and press lightly
  • only put the pot outside, if it’s warm enough
  • normally during the middle of May


The calla lily should regularly be repotted. Even if it has not grown too big for its pot, you should at least exchange the substrate yearly, so that the plant will get its needed nutrients from a fresh source. Fresh soil also benefits the calla lily, it won’t be as prone to diseases.

During repotting, you should follow these steps:

  • if needed, prepare new pot
  • otherwise, remove the calla lily carefully from its old pot
  • remove all old soil
  • thoroughly clean the pot
  • also wash off the plant’s bulb with lukewarm water
  • zu lang gewordene Wurzeln abschneiden
  • this serves rejuvenation
  • after that follow the pot planting steps

It’s important that you wear gloves during all of these steps, so that the leaves’ poison will not transfer to your skin and cause nettle rash.


The calla liliy’s soil should always be moist, since it’s a swamp plant, that usually grows in dryer regions, but nevertheless needs moisture. A longer drought is something the plant will not tolerate. That’s why this graceful plant should be watered regularly, but not excessively. As soon as the soil’s surface is lightly dry, it’s ready for the next watering. In doing so, you should pay attention so that water-logging is prevented.


To fertilise the calla lily during the spring and summer, the blossom time, you can regularly use liquid fertiliser. This should be added regularly to the water, about every two weeks. During autumn and winter, you can go without fertiliser.


You can refrain from an elaborate trimming with the calla lily. Parts should only be trimmed when blossoms are withered and leaves start turning yellow. You can certainly cut ff a single blossom with its stem, to put it into a vase.

There are some points you should keep in mind when trimming the calla lily:

  • dry, withered and yellowed parts are trimme
  • stems should be cut closely above the root tube
  • never remove green leaves
  • in these parts the plant gets its power to bloom again

The calla lily should also be trimmed before winter rest. To do that, cut all plant parts above the bulb. Use clean and disinfected tools for every cut and wear gloves because of the plant’s poison.

Winter Rest

The Zantedeschia is not frost-resistant, that’s why it should be kept inside during the winter, if it not already stays indoors the whole year round. If the plants have been patch planted, which we do not recommend with the calla lilies, you have to dig out the bulb during the autumn. If it’s a pot plant, it can stay in the pot and should be carried inside.

During the winter rest, the following things should be kept in mind:

  • remove all withered and yellowed plant parts
  • the bulb can overwinter in a cool room at ca. 10 degrees celsius
  • the room should also be dry and dar
  • lay down the bulbs, so that they have enough space
  • you can put dry turf, or wood shavings inside the intermediate spaces
  • the pot plant can also overwinter inside this room
  • make sure that the earth is not dried, once you carry it into the room

If you have your plant in a pot, it can bloom well into autumn and not all leaves have to yellow. After that, the pot can be kept in a bright, dry and cool location, for example your windowsill in your bedroom or a hallway. Direct sunlight should be avoided.

After Winter Rest

In January, the dug out bulbs can be put back into a pot filled with soil and put into a bright, cool location. Bulbs that have spent their winter rest in a pot have to carefully be accustomed to warmer temperatures again. Plants now have to be slowly watered and familiarised with higher temperatures. You can also start to fertilise regularly again, but not too much. During May the calla lilies can be put back outside onto your balcony, or terrace.


Since calla lilies are bulb plants, breeding via division, or seeding is possible.


Seeding calla lilies can be quite a tedious process, because even though plants might have sprouted, it usually takes many years until they bloom for the first time. That’s why we usually don’t recommend breeding by seeding.


The calla lily can be bred, like all bulb plants, by division. During its growth time, the mother bulb will develop smaller bulbs around itself that can be used. While repotting the decorative plant during spring, you can also breed it. Bulbs that have been dug out during the autumn have to be divided at this point.

The division of the small bulbs from the mother bulb should be carried out with a sharp and clean knife. After that the small bulbs can be planted, just like the main plant.

Watch out! Poisonous

The calla lily is unfortunately poisonous and should only be touched with gloves, it’s not only dangerous to get plant parts into your mouth. Irritations occur even if you touch it with a small part of your skin. The Zantedeschia releases excess water via its leaves during the blooming period.

  • try not to Touch the poisonous water
  • leads to nettle rash
  • which shows itself as a reddened rash
  • if you keep the plant in an especially bright spot, the poisonous substance will be reinforced
  • the nettle rash will be stronger then
  • that’s why you shouldn’t let children or pets in its proximity

If you have small children or free-roaming pets as part of your household, you should renounce from cultivating the calla lily, out of health reasons. If you still want one, you have to choose a location that cannot be reached by children or pets, so that they won’t touch it.


The calla lily is, sadly, quite prone to numerous diseases, which can also lead to a lot of damage if not treated. One of the main causes is too much moisture inside the soil or on the plant. It can also become diseased if you use bad, or old soil.

Fungus, Rot, Viruses, or Bacteria

If you have spotted one, or even more diseases on your decorative plant, you have to act quickly. House remedies normally won’t work, this means that you have to get your remedies from a store.

You should also do this:

  • treat it with special remedies from the store as specified by the manufacturer
  • remove all affected plant parts
  • remove the plant from its pot
  • completely remove old soil
  • clean pot well
  • ideally, also with remedies from a store
  • soil can be disposed of in your domestic waste and should not be used again

If the plant has not recovered after a few weeks, you should let it go and dispose of it. That’s also the case, if you spot rot on the bulb while removing it from the pot. In this case you can immediately dispose of it, trying to rescue the plant won’t work.


The calla lily can also be infested by pests, this usually happens when the plant spends its winter rest in a pot. At this point most pests will settle on the leftover leaves.

Greenflies and Spider Mites

If you recognise that your plant has been infested by spider mites, or greenflies during its winter rest, you can first of all spray the plant with a mixture of dish soap and water. If this won’t help, you have to use insecticides. You should also cut off all affected plant parts. A pest infestation can be treated well and you are usually able to save the calla lily.

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