Plant Information Database

Calla Lily

Learn how to care for calla lilies along with its history and classification details.

how to care for calla lilies

Hardiness Zone: 8-10
Soil Type: Slightly acidic
Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
Annual or Perennial: Perennial
Type: Flower

History: Calla lilies originate from South Africa and Malawi, however, are known to have made their way to Europe by appearing in an illustration in 1664. Calla lilies are rooted deep within Greek and Roman mythology.

The flower itself was catalogued erroneously by a Swedish botanist when calla lilies are not lilies. They actually come from within the Araceae family. A German botanist recognized the error and tried to right it, however, calla lily stuck.

The calla lily was made famous by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and are often found in bridal bouquets. The flowers themselves are toxic, while the stems are used to treat wounds in South Africa.

How to Care for Calla Lily

Common questions and details on how to care for calla lily.

How do I plant calla lily?

Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
Provide bright, indirect light.
Apply liquid fertilizer monthly while in flower.
Keep away from heating and A/C vents.
Reduce watering when the plant enters dormancy (November)
Cut the leaves off at soil level once they’ve died.

When is the best time to plant?

Calla lilies are typically planted in the spring. However, wait until the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed sufficiently before planting calla lilies. Calla lilies should be planted rather deep, about 4 inches (10 cm.) for greater results, and spaced approximately a foot (0.5 m).

How do I propagate calla lily?

The easiest way to propagate calla lilies is by dividing clumps of mature plants. This should be done every three to five years when clumps start to fade; dividing more often will inhibit growth. In zone 8 or warmer, you can wait until after the last frost date in the late winter or early spring to divide calla lilies.

Can I grow a calla lily in a pot?

Yes, you can grow calla lilies in a pot.

How much should I water a calla lily?

Calla lilies should be watered once a week or more frequently if experiencing especially hot or drought-like conditions.

How do I care for calla lily with fertilizer?

Calla lilies prefer to be fertilized frequently.

When does a calla lily bloom?

Calla lilies will bloom 6 to 12 weeks in late spring and throughout the summer.

Should I plant any companion plants?

Calla lilies grow well with ferns, astilbes, hostas, ligularias and impatiens.

What are the health benefits of calla lilies?

They are slightly toxic.
Lilies absorb airborne pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

Calla Lily Meaning

The meaning of the Calla Lily has been attached to multiple topics. It has been connected to both an expression of life, and a symbol of death. Ancient Greek culture connected calla lilies to magnificent beauty.

  • White symbolizes purity and innocence.
  • Yellow symbolizes gratitude.
  • Pink symbolizes appreciation and romance.
  • Purple symbolizes royalty and admiration.
  • Black symbolizes elegance and mystery.
  • Red symbolizes beauty and courage.
The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower – suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and not I place them here in memory of something that has died.

~Katharine Hepburn

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