How To Keep Calla Lilies In Pots

Pinterest Hidden Image

Are you an incurable window shopper like me? Some windows I manage to walk by – slowly, I admit, but flower shop windows stop me! 

Because I live in a large city, almost wherever I walk, I can feast my eyes on displays of flowers. It is in just such a way that I have been reminded of the heavenly beauty of calla lilies.

calla lilies as pot plantsPin

Catalog writers get delirious over calla lilies. Years ago, I read such a glowing account that I ordered a yellow calla. 

The bulb came in January when the temperature in our mailbox probably registered less than 10° degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, the bulb didn’t grow (callas are tropical plants), and I promptly decided that calla lilies were impossible and forgot about them.

Potted Calla Lilies

In recent years I’ve grown several different calla lilies as pot plants. Given reasonably good care, each bulb will produce up to six blossoms during the flowering season. 

Depending on when the bulbs are available and when they are planted, callas may be forced into bloom at almost any time as house plants.

August and September are the time-honored months for planting the classic white calla, Zantedeschia aethiopica, and its fragrant flowers come in winter and early spring. Yellow and pink (or red) callas are usually planted for spring and summer bloom in January.

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 be delivered in April.

Use deep pots and plant one bulb in a 5” or 6” inch pot or two or three bulbs in an 8” inch or larger container. 

There are all sorts of elaborate soil mixes recommended for callas. I’ve been successful with a simple half-and-half mixture of garden loam and peat moss.

When I first investigated the culture of Callas, I was impressed that every writer stressed the use of well-rotted cow manure in the culture of Callas. I’ve obtained the same results using biweekly liquid fish emulsion fertilizer feedings.

Water Callas Well

Plant callas with the tops of the tubers were barely showing above the soil—water well and set in a light place until growth begins. 

Callas require plenty of water throughout their growth period and can almost stand in water at maturity.

After the blooms are gone, keep the foliage in good condition and growing as long as possible  – perhaps two or three months. Then lay the pot on its side and let the foliage dry away. Rest the bulbs until planting time which will probably be at least two or three months away.

They should occasionally have some water splashed on the soil during the dormancy period so that they will not dry out completely. 

Callas kept in constant growth without a dormancy period will not flower well. Therefore, they should be repotted into the soil every year.

Callas like lots of sunlight and a night temperature of 60° degrees Fahrenheit to 65° degrees Fahrenheit. 

They are all natives of South Africa, except in nearly frostless climates; they must be grown as indoor plants.

Varieties Of Calla Lilies

A calla lily is not a lily but a Zantedeschia and a member of the Arum family.

Yellow Calla

The yellow calla (Zantedeschia Elliottiana) bears the richest golden yellow flowers, contrasted against dark green leaves, which are attractively spotted white. The pink or red calla is Zantedeschia Rehmannii.

The flowers of this calla are pink or purplish rose, a muddy color to my eye, but perhaps the purity of the yellow and white ones makes one too critical. The leaves of the pink calla are narrow, tapering, and sometimes white-spotted.

Purple-Heart Calla

The purple-heart calla (Z. melanoleuca) has a large yellow flower with a widely flaring margin and tip re-curved to reveal a sharply contrasting purplish black throat blotch. The foliage is spotted. 

Zantedeschia Godfreyana is a smaller replica of the classic white calla, but the flowers are produced more freely. Zantedeschia albo-maculata is similar to the common white, except the leaves are white-spotted.

Propagating Callas

Callas is easily propagated by seeds which may be sown at any time of the year (preferably in the fall or spring). Use soil of equal parts loam, sand, and peat moss. You can plant seeds of the species mentioned above.

Still, results will be more exciting if you secure seeds of the Apricot Sunrise Hybrids, introduced this year from the world-famous California gardens of hybridizer Frank Reinelt.

These hybrids come in shades of apricot with red-tinged edges, pink, red, yellow, gold, cream, and intermediate shades. 

If you’d like a list of sources of calla lily bulbs and seeds, send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

44659 by E Mcdonald