Giant white calla lily

Calla Lily Hardiness: Will Calla Lilies Come Back In Spring

The beautiful calla lily, with its elegant, trumpet-shaped blooms is a popular potted plant. It is especially a top choice for gifts and if you find yourself having been gifted one, you may be wondering what to do with it next. Is keeping callas year round possible or is it a one-time beauty? Let us help you figure it out.

Are Calla Lilies Annual or Perennial?

Many people treat their gift calla lilies as annuals. They receive a potted flower, or buy them for spring decorating, and then toss it when the blooms are done. In truth, though, calla lilies are perennials and you can actually save your potted plant and watch it bloom again next year.

Will calla lilies come back? It depends on how you treat your plant and where you put it for the winter.

Calla Lilies in Winter

Keeping callas year round is possible, but how you treat your plant to get blooms again next year will depend on your hardiness zone. You can rely on calla lily hardiness through zone 8 or maybe 7 at a stretch. If you live somewhere colder, you will need to bring your plant indoors for the winter.

One solution is to keep your calla lily potted. You can take it outdoors for a patio plant in the summer and bring it in again before the first frost. You can even allow it to go dormant for the winter by simply not watering it until the spring.

Another option is to put your calla in the ground in your garden in the spring or summer, after the last frost, and to remove it before the first frost of the fall or winter. To do this, dig up the plant and keep it dry until the leaves brown. Remove dead leaves and store the bulb in dry soil or sand. Make sure it stays around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 Celsius). Replant the bulb outdoors in the spring.

If you do keep your calla lily year round in a pot and it begins to decline, producing fewer flowers, you may have a case of crowded rhizomes. Every few years, divide the plant into three or four sections to store for the winter. Next spring you will have more, healthier plants. Calla lilies are perennials, not annuals, and with just a little extra effort you can enjoy your flower year after year.

Calla Lilies

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Calla Lilies

Care Tips:

Calla lilies are sleek, elegant cut flowers with pliable stems that are easily curved into graceful silhouettes. Their delicate blooms bruise easily and should be handled with care.

Available year-round, calla lilies should stay fresh for 7 to 10 days. In terms of care, they’re very different than other cut flowers. Once home follow these simple tips to extend the life of your blooms:

Divine and elegant, the calla lily is a symbol of magnificent beauty.
  1. Calla lilies are sometimes sold with plastic sleeves around the flowers to protect their blooms. Carefully remove these when you get home.
  2. Stand the flowers in water for at least two hours before you start arranging them. To prevent air bubbles from clogging the stems, place an elastic band around each one for the first hour of hydrating.
  3. Calla lily stems are mostly water and will begin to deteriorate if fully submerged. Use only about two inches of water mixed with flower food in the vase. If you don’t have flower food, dissolve half a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a few drops of bleach in 4 cups of water to create a home-made substitute.
  4. Slant cut the stems to the desired length. Try to leave some of the white part at the end of the stem to keep them from splitting as they age.
  5. Be sure to keep stems under the water when cutting.
  6. Arrange the stems to your liking, varying the height and position. Add other flowers to the arrangement once all the calla lilies are positioned.
  7. Calla lilies are thirsty flowers so add fresh water daily and re-cut the stems if they start to split.
  8. Continue to remove spent leaves to keep the bouquet looking fresh longer.

About Calla Lilies:

With trumpet shaped blooms in shades of white, cream, soft pink, pale yellow, orange, lavender, and mauve, calla lilies are an indispensable cut flower.

The color palette of calla lilies is enough to satisfy anyone!

These flowers are a bit of a conundrum. Surprisingly, they’re neither callas nor lilies! After some confusion among early botanists, they were eventually classified as Zantedeschia and found to be scientifically related to philodendron, pothos, and caladium. Also surprisingly, what we think of flowers are actually heart-shaped leaves!

These natives of tropical Africa first captured the imagination of the Romans and continue to charm us today. In early Rome, calla lilies were planted for the winter solstice as a way to brighten homes during the darkest days of the year. The flower tips were gilded with gold to enhance their beauty and prestige.

In modern times, calla lilies are still prized for their beauty as well as their symbolism. In the language of flowers, calla lilies convey magnificent beauty and utmost respect. White calla lilies are classic wedding flowers symbolizing purity and heavenly bliss. They’re also a meaningful sympathy flower, symbolizing faith and resurrection.

Georgia O’Keeffe redefined calla lilies with her series of close-up paintings. Her artistic vision to depict their true form with no preconceived notions redefined calla lilies from Freud’s sensual interpretation to one of pure beauty.


Calla lilies need little adornment to make a dramatic statement. No matter the decor, calla lilies are simply divine in both modern and traditional arrangements.

White and ivory calla lilies are classic wedding flowers. Florists and event planners have capitalized on their long stems, captivating guests with towering centerpieces, or bending the stems to create curved floral sculptures.

A simple bouquet of calla lilies wrapped with a collar of leaves and secured with floral wire creates a polished bouquet or centerpiece. A single calla lily in a tall vase is the epitome of understated elegance.

White lilies have helped numerous brides overcome their indecisiveness over wedding flowers.

Calla lilies combine effortlessly with other flowers and foliage, blending colors, textures, and fragrances in creative ways. Some of our favorite combinations include the following:

Dramatic: Pair calla lilies with hydrangea to create tiers of color that will have guests fighting over who will take home the centerpiece.

Romantic: Combine calla lilies, ranunculus and roses in your favorite colors for an alluring arrangement you’ll fall in love with.

Sultry: Cool white calla lilies, pastel pink cabbage roses and lime green cymbidium orchids evoke thoughts of hot summer days.

Calla lilies are a meaningful sympathy flower, symbolizing faith and resurrection.

Luxurious: For an arrangement worthy of the Dutch Masters, surround deep purple and burgundy calla lilies with lavender phlox, dark pink hydrangeas, and fragrant lilacs.

Chic: Calla lilies and orchids are a sleek, sophisticated combination.

Exotic: Wire calla lily stems to curly bamboo stalks and display in a sleek glass vase to create living modern art.

Calla lily, mistakenly called arum, is certainly one of the most beautiful bulb flowers.

Arum facts, a summary

Name – Zantedeschia aethiopica
Family – Araceae
Type – bulbous perennial

Height – 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rich, well drained

Flowering – June to October

From planting to pruning, every bit of attention goes towards helping the growth and bloom of your arum. Follow our advice to produce magnificent arums!

Planting arum

Arum bulbs are planted at the beginning of spring, around 1 ½ to 2 inches deep, from March to May.

  • Space tubers around 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart, because arum has wide-reaching leaves and needs space.
  • Choose a location that is in full sun but stays cool.
  • Don’t plant in very dry soil, because arum requires cool, moist soil.

Alternate your arums with other bulbs that bloom in summer.

Watering arum

Water sparingly at the beginning and then more regularly once flowers have appeared, until the end of the blooming season.

Arum grows very well adjoining a body of water, which indicates how much it needs water.

Like all bulbs that bloom in summer, water in case of prolonged dry spells or heat waves.

Pruning and caring for arum

  • Cut them short before the first frost spells.
  • Do not cut before leaves have turned completely yellow, since this is the span of time when they are building up their nutrient reserves for the next blooming cycle.

For spectacular blooming, add special bulb plant fertilizer.

Protecting your arum in winter

Arum or calla lily is quite hardy even in cool winters. Typically, leaves will stay green until temperatures drop to 25°F (-4°C) for several nights in a row.

In areas that are prone to cold winters, protect the rhizomes with a thick layer of mulch.
The mulch can either be a bed of dried leaves, hemp or flax straw, or ferns.

Tip: Before winter, dig out a portion of the rhizome and pot it in your house, and you’ll have arums in winter.

Potted arum, how to care for it

Once the leaves are completely yellow, you can cut them to the shortest.

  • Remove the bulb from its pot, cleaning the dirt off delicately.
  • Set it for the winter in a cool spot where it doesn’t freeze.
  • This storage spot must also be very dry and dark, for example a small shoebox with a ventilation hole pierced in it.
  • In March, you can bring your bulb out and plant it again in new soil mix.
  • Start watering again when the soil is dry and your arum will bear flowers again.

You can also stow the bulb away without removing it from its pot, but the soil mix needs replacing every two years anyway.

  • See also our tips on all the bulbs that bloom in summer.

Video tips on how to care for your arum, calla lily

All there is to know about arum

This bulb perennial is native to South Africa, not from Ethiopia as its scientific name shows.

Particularly exotic, it is perfectly suited to wet areas like water bodies and ponds, but is also the perfect plant for your flower beds, edges or standalone spots.

  • Alternate your arums with other bulbs that bloom in summer.

Even thought the spelling is arum, it is pronounced !

Smart tip about arum

These flowers are pure marvels, before the blooming is over, cut a few stems off and place them in a beautiful vase!

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
White arum by Sanam Maharjan ★ under license

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