How to propagate calla lily

Dividing Calla Lilies – How And When To Divide Callas

Calla lilies are handsome enough to grow for their foliage alone, but when the bold, single-petaled flowers unfurl they are sure to attract attention. Learn how to divide these dramatic tropical plants in this article.

Should You Divide Calla Lilies?

How often should you divide calla lilies? Calla lily division is only necessary when the clumps start to decline, but if you want more rhizomes to fill in the garden, it’s safe to divide them every three to five years. If you divide them too often, however, they will never quite reach their full potential.

When to Divide Callas

Calla growers have two opportunities to divide the rhizomes:

  • In late winter or early spring after all danger of frost has passed.
  • In late summer or fall when the plants have finished blooming for the year.

Most growers prefer to divide calla lilies in spring, especially in warm climates where you can leave the rhizome in the ground year round. In cooler areas, you might prefer to divide the rhizomes in late summer or fall when you dig them up for winter storage.

How to Divide a Calla Lily

Dividing calla lilies is not difficult. Lift calla rhizomes in fall after the foliage turns brown and pulls away from the roots easily. Slide a shovel under the roots and pry upward to lift the clump. Remove any remaining foliage and brush off the soil. Cut or break apart the rhizome, making sure each section has at least one eye. Let the rhizomes dry for a day to form a callus over the cut before replanting.

If you live in an area cooler than USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, you’ll have to store the rhizomes and replant them in the spring. Allow them to dry in a well-ventilated area for two to three days. Brush off any remaining dirt with your hands or a dry paper towel and then dust the bulbs with bulb dust to prevent rot. Store them in a paper bag of peat moss or vermiculite in a cool, dry location.

In late winter or spring, chop apart sections of the plant by driving a spade between them at the first sign of new growth. Lift the sections you want to move and replant them right away. Add soil around the plants you leave in place and firm it up with your hands. New gardeners might find this method for dividing calla lilies easier since you don’t have to identify the eyes.

Calla lily, also known as Zantedeschia aethiopica (pronounced zan-te-des’-ki-ah), belongs to the family of Araceae, a native to South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

This beautiful trumpet-shaped flower grows easily with just a few important planting tips to keep in mind.

It’s true! Calla lily plant care is rather easy for both growing and flowering.

Tip: The more leaves a plant has the greater the number of flowers to be expected.

Also known as trumpet lilies, calla lilies are mostly known for their waxy white flowers that twist and curl gracefully ending in a delicate point.

However, the lilies come with flowers of different bloom colors. Some of them are:

  • Black Calla Lily
  • Purple Calla Lily
  • Red Calla Lily
  • White Calla Lily

You can grow calla lilies in pots – indoors or outdoors your garden. They should be on everyone’s summer flowering bulbs list.

In cooler climates, grow the calla lily as an annual or simply dig the bulbs or rhizomes up in the fall and replant them the following year.

Given reasonably good care, each bulb will produce up to six blossoms during its flowering season.

In areas where the temperature is warm, you can grow them perennially all year long.

How To Care For Calla Lily Bulbs in Pots

Although you can start growing from calla lilies seeds, the seeds take a very long to germinate.

In addition, calla lily seedlings have a very low germination rate. It’s best to begin growing calla lily using bulbs.

Use deep pots and plant one bulb in a five or six-inch pot. In eight-inch or larger containers plant two or three bulbs.

If you want to grow you Calla Lilies in pots they look best when the dormant tubers are started in larger pots.

When potting calla lilies allow the tops of the tubers to barely stick out above the soil.

Although the roots of the Calla lilies do not spread out much, using large pots will help the soil to stay moist as well as allowing enough space for the tubers to spread and make additional plants.

You’ll find all kinds of elaborate recommended soil mixes for calla lily but all need a well-drained soil.

I’ve been successful using a simple mixture of 1 part garden loam (learn more) and 1 part peat moss.

Some people swear the best results come from using cow manure in growing their callas.

I’ve seen great results by using biweekly feedings of liquid fish emulsion fertilizer.

If you live in areas with high temperature or where the frost has already past plant the tubers directly in the garden.

For the best results, bury the tubers three to 4 inches below the surface of the soil.

Tips On Watering Calla Lilies

Water Calla’s well and place them in a bright location until growth begins.

Cow Lily need plenty of water all during their growth cycle. At maturity, they can almost stand in water.

Watering the lilies regularly will ensure the soil stays moist. Calla lilies need to be hydrated all the time.

Remember plants grown in containers tend to dry out much quicker than those grown in the ground.

However, the soil should not be too wet since the lily bulb may start to rot.

One of the indicators that you may be over-watering the plants is the presence of dark leaf tips.

How To Tips On Fertilizing Calla Lilies

When fertilizing calla lilies you can use water-soluble all purpose plant food as well as bulb fertilizer every month.

You should apply the fertilizer more regularly when you start noticing the development of flowers.

However, you should stop fertilizing when the plant has already bloomed.

If you notice some dark tips on the foliage you may have added too much fertilizer.

Calla lilies do exceptionally well as floor plants. However, they need to be placed in areas with plenty of sunlight.

This may be near glass door or near large windows.

You can also use the calla lilies grown in planters to enhance your patios, porches, garden, and decks.

What’s The Best Temperature Range For Growing Calla Lilies?

If you reside in areas where the temperatures are low such as the Pacific Northeast you can try selected varieties, which can tolerate cooler temperature outside.

However, when the temperature is extremely cold, over winter calla lily plants in containers.

In conclusion, it is very important to provide good care for the Calla lilies by maintaining a well-draining soil and add some used coffee grounds to the plant’s growing container to make it more acidic.

Remember although the plant can live year round in the appropriate climate, 60°-75° degrees Fahrenheit, allow it to die (rest) for two to three months every year.

This allows the lily to rest and come back with better blooms the next season.

Calla Lily Bulb Storage Preparing Tubers For Winter

At the end of the growing period stop feeding and watering the plants to allow them to go to dormancy.

Callas kept in constant growth without a dormancy period will not flower well. They should be repotted into new soil every year.

Cut the plants to ground level and bring the pots inside if you live in areas that experience cool climate.

Store the pots in cool, dark areas that do not get colder than 40° degrees Fahrenheit.

Alternatively, you can dig the tubers or rhizomes out of the pot and store them in containers with peat moss for the winter.

Can Calla Lilies Bulbs Be Forced To Bloom?

Depending on when the bulbs are available, and when they are planted, the calla lily flower may be forced into bloom at almost any time as houseplants.

August and September are the time-honored months for planting the classic white calla lily flower, Zantedeschia aethiopica, and its fragrant flowers come during the winter and early spring.

Yellow and pink (or red) callas are usually planted in January for spring and summer bloom.

If you are situated, as I was, so that yellow and pink calla bulbs arriving in January are likely to be frozen, ask that they not be delivered until April.

How To Grow Calla Lilies Outside

Choose an ideal spot for planting the bulbs.

Location Depending On Zones

Where to plant Calla Lilies?

If you reside in a hot climate, make sure you choose an outdoor spot that gets some shade, partial sunlight and retains moisture.

If you live in a cooler region, select an area with full sun and moisture.

What Type Of Soil To Plant Calla Lilies Outside In The Garden?

After selecting, the ideal location for planting the calla lilies makes sure the ground has been prepared well.

It is important to enrich the soil with compost and organic material which helps retain moisture. This is very important especially if you have sandy or rocky soil.

Transplant the started bulbs and plants. It is not advisable to plant the tubers directly to the outdoors before taking care of them in the starter pots.

Once they have started your tubers transplant the lilies into the garden.

You should do this once there is no threat of frost. The ideal spacing for these Lillie should be at least 12 inches apart.

Remember some Calla lilies can grow as tall as 4 feet with their leaves spreading to one foot or more.

Watering And Fertilizing Calla Lilies Outdoors

When watering, ensure that the soil remains moist throughout the growing season.

It is also very important to fertilize the lilies regularly using a water-soluble general plant fertilizer.

Remember to fertilize more than normal when you notice the flowers forming.

Stop feeding and watering the plant at the end of the growing season. This will allow the soil to dry and the lilies to die off.

Even if you live in a warm climate, the lilies need to go into a period of winter dormancy for them to bloom again the following year.

Digging And How To Store Calla Lily Bulbs

Dig the calla lilies out of the ground before the first frost. If you reside in areas where the climate is cool, remove the plant from the ground.

You’ll need to grab the plant close to the base and rock it back and forth until you loosen the soil at the base of the tuber and they pull it carefully from the ground.

To pick all the tubers sift through the soil with your hands or turn it carefully with a hand shovel.

This allows you to find any small tubers that may have formed underground but did not have time to grow a plant.

To prepare the tubers for storage, cut all the remaining plant material from the plant and lay the tubers in the sun to dry for a few days.

Store them in dry peat moss or coco coir fiber inside a paper bag. You should keep them at 50° to 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

Most of the tubers are in form of clusters. Break them apart into single tubers before you plant them in the spring.

You may also like this lily: African Blood Lily – Haemanthus

Pest Control and Diseases On Callas

The white Calla Lilies worse enemy are spider mites which hide under leaves to avoid detection and feed on the lilies juices turning the attractive leaves to a gray-yellow on the surface.

On indoor plants take the plant outside and spray the leaves with water to knock the mites off.

This should help remove a large percentage of the spider mites and their eggs. However, this treatment will need repeating.

Predatory insects can also be used.

In case you find small insect pest on the lilies usually plant lice (aka aphids), kill or get rid of aphids using:

  • Homemade recipe for insecticidal soap
  • Safe pesticide spray like neem oil on your plants.

Bacteria can attack the lower part of the calla stem causing stem rot. This difficult to control infection can spread down to the roots and kill the plant. Destroy affected plants.

The ring mosaic virus looks like yellow stripes and spots on stems and leaves reducing the plant’s beauty and its ability to flower. Stop the spread of the virus to new plants by insects and destroy the affected plant.

You can also spray the respective pesticide to prevent diseases such as gray mold, rhizome rot as well as bacterial soft rot.

Calla Lilly Care: Questions and Answers

When To Plant Calla Bulbs For Bloom – Spring or Winter

Question: Are calla lilies properly planted in the Fall for Winter bloom or in the Spring for Summer flowering?

Answer: The wonderful thing about these lovely plants, is they are versatile enough to flower during either period – whichever you prefer.

However, do not expect the same bulbs to reward you with flowers both times.

Separate bulbs must be used, in order to allow for the needed rest. Winter is the natural blooming time.

Why Is The Color Fading On My Calla Lily?

Question: I have grown calla lilies for several years. The calla lily flowers on one plant have always been a deep-yellow. This year the deep-yellow disappeared and the calla produced pale-yellow, very light-colored flowers. What would cause the blooms to be so pale?

Answer: Genetics play a significant role in flower pigment color in calla lily plants.

However, environmental factors also influence flower color. The pale coloring on the calla lily flowers could be from:

  • The sun bleaching out the color
  • Dry soil during flower development
  • Imbalance of soil nutrients
  • Improper pH levels

I would start with a soil test to get a reading of the pH and to see if any soil nutrients are off.

Calla flowers like a soil slightly acidic in the on the 5.6 to 6.5 pH. They use lots of energy growing and blooming,

Fertilize them regularly with a balanced mild liquid fertilizer every other week – try composted tea or fish emulsion fertilizer.

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The Ethiopia arum, Calla Lily an Exotic immaculate chalices!

Ethiopia Arum is a plant of a beautiful nobility in the garden. Large, pointed green leaves like spears, flowers in the form of white calyxes (named spathes) extirpate and radiate. Plant can measure up to one meter in height. Petal’s flowers of ethiopia arum envelop a central ” ears “, bright yellow, and they measure up to 20 cm.
Ethiopia arums are not really fragile. In fact, arum is rustic up to -10 ° C – apart from the cultivars which are not rustic, but it is nevertheless necessary to cultivate them, in a place of the garden, Shelter from windstorms. In good planting conditions, the Ethiopian arum spreads very quickly in the garden, to your delight.

Botanical name:

Zantedeschia aethiopica

Type of plant

• Family: Araceae
• Cycle: perennial plant
• Hardiness: rustic (-10 ° C)
• Foliage: deciduous
• Exposure: sun and partial shade
• Soil: Fresh and well-drained soil
• Habit: clumps and flowers erected at the end of a long stem
• Rooting: Bulbous (rhizomes)
• Origin: Asia

Particularities of arum or Calla

• Resistance to cold: from -10 ° C for white Arum, to non-rusitic for colored cultivars.
• Flowering: March to July
• Maintenance: easy.
• Height: from 0.50 to 0.90 m
• Toxicity: no
• Edible Plant: No

What kind of soil to grow arums?

• The Arums appreciate deep, fresh, humid soil, and well drained.

Planting in the ground or pot for calla plant?

The arums can be grown in pot or in the ground without distinction!

Pot :
• The arum grows well in large enough pot, like 30-35 centimeters.
• Provide a rich soil.
• Plant about 3-4 bulbs / pot.

In the ground:
• The plant accepts a certain drought
• It does not support stagnant water.
• A very fresh soil and sun exposure to partial shade.

When to plant the arums?

• Install bulbs (rhizomes) or containers in the spring, beginning in April.

How to plant Ethiopian arums?

Prepare the floor:
• Loosen the soil on the depth of a spade. About 20-25 cm.
• Depending on the type of soil, add compost to ensure good development for the plant.
• Add sand to make it more draining – if necessary.
• Prepare the bulb locations to 40 cm of space in any direction.
• Place containers or bulbs.
• For rhizomes, place them at a depth of about 10 cm.
• Tamp, water, it’s planted!

Flowering period of calla or arum:

• Arum blooms all the spring until the beginning of the summer: from March to July.

Maintenance tips:

• Watering: regular.
• Remove faded flowers to help bloom.
• In autumn, let the leaves of the arum or calla become yellow. It was then that the bulb was reconstituted.
• In November, during the first frosts, cut the ” short ” leaves.
• Protect the arum feet with mulching when you cut the leaves.

The word of the amateur gardener:

• In case of mild winter and foliage: protect the arum or calla with some winter veil, you can put a first one at the foot of the plant and the other to protect the foliage.
• In case of mild weather will during, protect it with 2 roof tiles like a marquee above the foliage.

Can we divide the arum or calla?

• Yes, it is even advisable when it comes to plants in place for a long time in the garden.

How to divide the arum?

• In fact, it is very simple. Generally every spring, arum or calla produces new shoots.
• To make a division, simply take these young shoots.
• Drain the stump carefully, then pick up a few shoots, to put back to ground immediately, it is not necessary to go through the ” pot ” box.

In the case of division, this is true for calla and for all plants, the important thing in this operation is that the cutter knife is perfectly disinfected. This avoids transmitting diseases from another plant.

Some varieties

• Zantedeschia aethiopica ” Green Goddess “: The flowers are white and green.

Do you know Palestinian arum?

• Arum palaestinum: It is a very beautiful black arum, with black flowers. It has a very pleasant perfume, which is said to resemble that of a fruit one. It is a plant originally from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine from which he took its name. It grows on dry hillsides and the edges of cultivated fields.
This arum is very ” happy ” in a well drained garden and takes important proportions when it benefits from a good watering and sun. 50 cm x 50 cm. Its leaves are less well drawn, less ” graphic ” than Zantedeschia aethiopica … Another aesthetic, another charm!

Picture by Avishai Teicher on wikipedia under Creative commons licence.

Plant it in the garden with:

• Plant the arums with: fuchsias, hydrangeas!

With or without garden …

• In the garden: in a massive perennial plant, bordering …
• Without garden: In large pot, with a well humiferous soil.


• Cycle: Perennial
• Rusticity: -10 ° C.
• Foliage: deciduous
• Exposure: Sun in the shade and protected from the wind
• Flowering: March to July.
• Color of flowers: white for the most popular variety.
• Type of soil: Deep, rich in humus, fresh, well drained.
• Plantation: Spring – March.
• Maintenance: Irrigation during growth, dry during dormancy.
• Use: In massif, edging, under wood.

Quick plant info :

  • Exposition :
    Sun or partial shade
  • Sol :
    Deep and drained soil
  • Arrosage :
    Keep the soil cool

  • Taille :
    0,8 m
  • Distance :
    0,40 m
  • Profondeur plantation :
    bulb barely encrusted
  • Semis :
  • Plantation :
  • Floraison :
    March to july

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Zantedeschia, often known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies, are popular exotic looking plants that are native to South Africa. They will bear narrow, lance or funnel shaped flowers in the most fantastic array of colours and are particularly effective when grown in groups within a border, or planted in pots and spread out on the patio.

There are a wide range of varieties, in sizes ranging from 40cm to 90cm and a dazzling array of colours to choose from. Their exotic looking flowers look particularly striking in cut flower arrangements, giving your bouquets an exciting tropical look. And, if overwintered in a sheltered spot, the tubers can produce a great display for many years.

They are particularly attractive when in flower, with dark green foliage (mottled on some varieties) and distinct colour flowers that can be solid or two toned.


There are many distinctions between the different varieties of Zantedeschia but one of the most noteworthy is that some are considered as ‘Hardy’ and some are considered ‘Tender’. In theory, with our climate in the UK, all the varieties would survive a mild-normal winter as even the ‘tender’ varieties are hardy to -12 degrees celsius.

Zantedeschia Aethiopica is truly hardy and will survive temperatures down to a chilly -25 degrees! It can even be planted in baskets and submerged up to 30cm deep for planting in and around a pond or water feature, a marvellously versatile plant.

If you are worried about a particularly cold frost or live in a very exposed location you can always add some winter protection like mulch or lift the tubers and store them over winter in a dry, cool and dark environment. They can then be replanted in spring.

The more tender Zantedeschia can be grown as a conservatory or house plant, as well as a patio plant. These tubers should be protected from the frost with deep winter mulch.

Some of our Favourites

Zantedeschia Cantor (Calla Lily)

A very popular variety for contemporary flower arrangements, exotic Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) Cantor boasts the deepest purple of any Calla, almost black. Gorgeous waxy spathes in deep aubergine-burgundy surround a matching spadix, giving a mysterious, unusual look. Height 60cm. Flowering May-October. Top size 16cm+ tubers supplied for exhibition quality flowers which last up to ten weeks.

Zantedeschia Lipstick (Calla Lily)

The Calla Lipstick presents gentle cream spadices, surrounded by contrasting vivid pink spathes which fade to spring green at the floral chamber; where the magnificent flower head is held up by succulent tube-like stems. Broad, wavy foliage in a spring green adorn the base. Exhibition quality 16cm+ tubers supplied. Flowers May to October. Height 60cm.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla Lily)

Hardy Zantedeschia aethiopica is a wonderful, well known outdoor flowering Calla Lily that is sometimes also known fondly as the White Arum Lily. This premium variety looks superb grown in groups within the flower bed and border, or equally as effective planted and grown on the patio in pots or containers. Supplied as 12cm+ tubers, they are great for naturalising and multiplying to offer larger displays as the years progress. Calla Lily aethiopica will produce gorgeous summer white flowers from late May through to June, coupled with waxy green foliage.

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How to Plant Callas

Planting Zantedeschia is an easy process – they like moist, well drained soil and not to be planted too deep (allow the tops of the tubers to be at ground level). Where possible plant them in a sunnier location as, being from native to Africa, they will really appreciate it.

Grow in humus rich soil, in full sun access. Plant the tubers shallow, so top of tubers are slightly exposed. Calla lilies can be cultivated indoors in loam based potting compost in full light. Water freely and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep just moist in winter.

One of the added bonuses of planting Calla Lilies in your garden or in patio pots are the absolutely stunning cut flowers they can produce. Each tuber will produce a number of stems as it flowers and this will increase as the tubers become established over the coming years. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise a friend / family member with a bunch of stunning flowers.

We recommend accompanying them with low-growing plants to provide filling foliage over the base areas and covering up those thin stems. Anything that provides fullness and has a shallow root system serves best as a Calla companion, such as New Guinea Impatiens, Astilbes or Hydrangeas.

Getting the most from your Tubers

Callas can be lifted after flowering so that you can store them throughout winter and plant again in spring. Simply dig them up at the end of their flowering time once they have died back, the best time for this is usually in autumn around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off soil and place the somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days, to allow them to really dry off. These can now be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.

Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can plant your Calla again and enjoy their beauty year after year!

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