Although an outdoor plant by nature, the calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) will perform wonderfully as an indoor plant. Keeping this rhizome happy indoors is a matter of paying attention to some fundamental growing conditions.
The Z. aethiopica is native to southern Africa and thrives naturally on water edges. Given plenty of light and water, this plant can grow indoors as well or even spend time outside until winter comes giving you the best of both worlds.
Calla Lily Zantedeschia Description
Growing from a single rhizome, or bulb, this plant requires wet growing conditions in order to remain healthy. These oddly shaped flowers bloom in June and July outdoors, but from spring into fall if kept at the proper temperatures indoors. Otherwise, these plants provide beautiful leaves for the rest of the year.
How it looks
Calla lilies grow directly from their bulbs, without any stems in between. They are rhizomatous herbaceous plants from the family Araceae. These plants are perennials when water supply and temperature are favorable. They show deciduous habits in cold temperatures or in prolonged dry seasons.
Arrow-head-shaped, large, showy deep green leaves open up just above the soil on thick stalks and rise 2 to 3 feet into the air as they unfurl. Leaves length is more than 6 inches and width ranges between 3 – 6 inches.
Large leaves open up just above the soil and rise 2 to 3 feet into the air as they unfurl. The trumpet-shaped flowers grow a few inches or so above the dark green foliage at the top of a tall stalk.
A single bulb will produce multiple leaves and flowers.
The trumpet-shaped flowers grow a few inches or so above the dark green foliage at the top of a tall stalk.
The white flowers can grow up to 10 inches long each. Every bloom produces a large, single-petal flower that resembles an upturned bell with one side stretched out of proportion. The center stamen is always yellow.
Calla lilies are easy to grow and require no encouragement to get them to bloom. So long as the moisture and light conditions are within the tolerance levels of the plant, the blooms will occur without any special attention.
Toxic for pets
Yes, this plant is toxic for pets including dogs and cats if they ingest it. Look for signs of mouth irritation, problems swallowing, vomiting, or any other unusual symptoms, and take your pet to the vet ASAP to get treated.
Easy to grow
These flowering house plants are mostly low maintenance. They prefer bright, indirect light, but they can also tolerate some shade. They also prefer to be kept moist but be careful not to overwater. In the growing season, they can benefit from balanced liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.
Calla Lily Flowering Problems
If your lily refuses to flower for an entire growing season, the problem is likely in the soil. Test the potting soil for pH. The optimal soil pH for calla lilies should be between 5.5 and 6.5 for a healthy plant. It also thrives well in alkaline (>8.0) and neutral (6.0 – 8.0) soil.
If your soil pH is within limits, you might be overwatering. Check the moisture level of the soil and adjust so that it is moist, but never soggy, three inches down.
For a plant with good soil pH and good moisture, the problem may be too little sunlight. Increase its light, but not its temperature. Any changes will require at least four weeks to produce blooms.
|Names:||Calla lily (common). — Zantedeschia aethiopica (botanical/scientific).|
|Max Growth (approx):||Flower stalk 3ft (90cm) in height.|
|Poisonous for pets:||Calla lilies are toxic to cats and dogs.|
|Temperature:||These calla lily flowers can be rather picky about their temperatures. For ideal growing conditions expose the bulbs to days no hotter than 60°F and no colder than 55°F. The above-ground plant can tolerate temperatures as high as 70°F. If your home is hot, use mulch to keep the bulb cooler in its pot.|
|Light:||Full sun or partial shade when outdoors. Indoors bright indirect light unless they are used to the direct sunlight.|
|Watering:||This plant requires plenty of bright sunlight during non-peak hours of the day. Provide it with a sunny window facing east or west for best results. They can handle full or partial sun once acclimated.|
|Soil:||Standard potting soil is a good mixture for this plant. Avoid potting soils with an unbalanced pH or too much fertilizer mixed in.|
|Re-Potting:||This plant takes to re-potting well. Simply dig the plant out of the soil, including the entire bulb. Replant the bulb with the shoots pointing up at least three inches deep in the soil. Cover, and water once. Wait until new growth is evident before watering again.|
|Fertilizer:||Normally it doesn’t need fertilizer. If you desire better growth, use a fertilizer with no ammonium in it. Use this in a mixture of 1 part fertilizer to 1 gallon of water (1:1) in the growing season, and fertilize once every two weeks for a single season only. Continued fertilization for long periods of time will harm the plant.|
|Humidity:||Normal room humidity is acceptable for this plant, as long as the soil is kept moist. This is especially true during winter.|
|Propagation:||They can reproduce through seeds and vegetatively via rhizomes. If the plant is fertilized, small black berries will form. These can be dried out and planted in three inches of potting soil. This will form new bulbs.|
Otherwise, you can dig up the rhizome and break off a section of it. Permit this to dry for two days, then plant with the non-smooth side up and water according to re-potting instructions.
You can also plant the rhizomes outside if you are in the right temperature zone after the soil has warmed. Favorable growing seasons are late spring and early summer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, so don’t be alarmed if your plant starts losing its leaves in the late summer. You will need to stop watering your plant after it flowers to allow it to go dormant before the winter temperatures creep in.
If it’s struggling to flower on its own, you can try a low-nitrogen fertilizer. If that fails, you may need to check the pH of the soil, as directed above.
Mealybugs and Spider Mites are the most common things that can be found in the pockets of the foliage, so make sure to look out for them!
If your plant isn’t getting enough water, symptoms may include a weak stem, loss of flowers, lack of growth, or the yellowing or greying of leaves. If you think your plant is being overwatered, look out for wilting, waterlogging in the soil, or yellow leaves.
Rotting roots or moldy soil is really common because the amount of water this plant needs is tricky to get right. Root rot usually means that your calla lily has been kept in a cool dark place for too long. Simply move it to a lighter area and try to dry the plant out as much as possible.
A fertilizer high in potassium is great, Tomato Feed is a good example. This should be used during the winter every fortnight.
The calla lily is the perfect addition if you’re looking for an elegant and subtly fragrant plant. It’s a beautiful flower and gorgeous foliage can really brighten up your home, just make sure you follow the guidance in this article to make sure your plant thrives at home.
The key to these lilies is warmth and wetness. Calla lily is semi evergreen plant, that prefers to live in aquatic areas, this is why you can find them in the wild growing along streams or ponds. So, the trick is to keep them wet – regular watering is essential! You can even leave your plant in a saucer of water for a short amount of time to let it drink as much as possible.
Originating in Southern Africa, the plant is well accustomed to warm weather! The plant can tolerate up to 70°F, but its sweet spot is between 55°F and 60°F. It’s important to closely imitate the natural conditions that it’s used to, so during the warmer months it may be an idea to home the plant outside – just make sure it’s not getting too much direct sunlight.
Although they look stunning, these houseplants can be harmful if you have pets. Dogs and cats are both known to have reactions to the plant, so make sure to consider these dangers before purchasing!
2. Schoellhorn, N., Warm Climate Production Guidelines for Zantedeschia (Calla Lily) hybrids.Commercial Floriculture Update. University of Florida.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has been published in a Scientific Journal, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.