HiddenFromTOCHow to Plant Calla Lily Bulbs

  1. Firstly, it’s important to choose the best rhizomes. Opt for large and firm rhizomes for the best display of flowers. 
  2. Plant in either full sun or partial shade. For faster growing, plant in pots and keep indoors until the soil has warmed.
  3. Keep the soil moist by regularly watering. During the flowering season, apply fertiliser once a month. 

Grown indoors and out, Calla lilies bring an unrivalled elegance to any space. Native to South Africa, Calla Lilies are not part of the lily family, instead belonging to the Zantedeschia family. 

Characterised by their stunning flowers in a variety of colours, there’s a huge range of Calla Lily varieties. These beautiful flowers are fairly easy to grow from rhizomes, although many are given as a gift in the form of a potted flower. 

What are Calla Lilies?

Calla lilies, often called Arum Lilies, are perennial plants originating in South Africa. In the home or garden, they are usually grown from rhizomes. 

Calla lilies produce beautiful funnel-shaped flowers in a range of colours that last from 6 to 12 weeks in late spring and early summer. In the colder months they go dormant.

As well as their bright flowers, Calla lilies have stunning glossy foliage, a great choice for borders or patios. The foliage is attractive all season long, before and after flowering.  

Calla lilies are well known thanks to their long lifespan once cut. They can look beautiful for up to 2 weeks once cut, and are used in wedding bouquets in South Africa. 

Purchasing a wide variety of Calla lilies will ensure you’ve got flowers all through until late summer. While some bloom early in the season, others bloom later. 

How to Plant Calla Lily Bulbs

Calla lilies are fairly easy to grow and bring elegance to beds and borders, while also making a charming addition to interior spaces. Although growing from seed is possible, lilies grown this way won’t flower until their third year. Growing from rhizomes is a much quicker option. 

Calla lilies should be planted in the spring, when the danger of frost has passed. 

Step 1: Choose the Best Rhizomes

The bigger the rhizomes, the bigger the plant and the more impressive the flowers. Choose rhizomes that are large, firm and plump. 

Step 2: Choose the Right Location

It’s important to choose the right location for your Calla lilies. 

These flowers prefer full sun or part shade, but the best location will depend on the temperature in your region. In cooler areas, they are best planted in full sun. 

If you want your Calla lilies to grow quicker, they can be planted in pots and kept indoors for a few weeks next to a sunny window, before being planted outside when the soil has warmed. 

If you are planting directly into the soil, the rhizomes should be planted either at the front or middle of flowerbeds. The soil should be well-drained.

They can also be planted in pots and containers, and can be mixed with other annuals. Dig in organic matter or garden compost before planting. 

If you’re planting in a container, choose a pot with adequate drainage holes and fill it with good quality, well-draining soil or potting mix. 

Step 3: Plant the Rhizomes

Place your rhizomes into the soil, around 4” deep and 12” apart. The growing tips should be facing upwards. 

Cover with soil and water until the soil is moist. 

Step 4: Water Regularly

Water the rhizomes and continue to water until shoots appear, which can take around 2 weeks. The soil should be kept moist but never soggy. Continue watering regularly through the flowering season, and more during heat waves or dry spells. 

Step 5: Care After Blooming


Once the Calla lilies have become established, they can be fertilised. During the growing season, it’s recommended that you use an all-purpose fertiliser at least once a month. 

Calla lilies like warm temperatures, so will go dormant in the autumn months when the temperature drops.

Once the blooms have faded, the flower stems can be removed. Pull out the entire stem at the base to promote the growth of flowers next year.

Caring for Calla Lilies in Winter

In warm climates, the calla rhizomes can be left in the ground over the winter. Those with an H4 rating can be left in the ground as they will go dormant. Add a layer of multicultural fleece or mulch to protect them from frost damage. 

If you’ve got your Calla lilies in pots or containers, these can be brought inside or kept in a greenhouse during the winter. Give them little to no water and ideally keep them in the dark. When shoots start to appear the next spring, you can begin watering again. 

If you’ve got a less hardy variety of Calla lily, the rhizomes will need digging up after the first frost in order to be replanted again in the spring. Remove them from the ground, then allow them to dry off for a few days. Put them in a box with peat moss then store the box in a dark and dry place with a temperature between 10-15°C. 

When the temperature increases in the spring, the rhizomes can be replanted. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that you may not get the same results from rhizomes that have been dug up and replanted. Many gardeners opt to plant fresh rhizomes every year. 

Propagating your Calla Lilies

Propagating can be done in two ways; by cutting dormant rhizomes or collecting seeds. 

In the spring, cut the calla lily rhizomes that have been stored over the winter into several sections. Plant the split rhizomes individually in containers filled with multi-purpose compost. Water until shoots emerge, then plant outside. 

To propagate using seeds, you should collect seeds in the autumn and store them over the winter. In the spring, they can be sown in a pot filled with seed compost. Keep the seeds warm (21°C). While propagating using this method is very easy, it’s unlikely you’ll see flowers for three years, which is why most people opt to use rhizomes. 

Calla Lily Bulbs FAQ

Do Calla lilies come back every year? 

While many people treat Calla lilies as annuals, Calla lilies are actually perennials which means they should regrow every spring. However, this does depend on the winter temperatures and whether you dig up the rhizomes. 

If you live in a mild area, you can get away with leaving the rhizomes in the ground through the winter, and they should regrow in the spring. Those in colder areas will need to dig up the rhizomes and store the bulb in a dark room. They can then be replanted in the spring. 

If you keep your Calla lily in a pot year-round, either indoors or out, you may find it starts to decline over time. This may be due to crowded rhizomes, and the plant needs dividing.

Is a Calla lily an indoor or outdoor plant? 

While naturally an outdoor plant, Calla lilies also perform exceptionally well indoors. Provided they have enough sun, water and fertiliser during the growing season, your Calla lily flowers should thrive both indoors and out.

Do Calla Lilies grow better in pots or in the ground? 

This generally depends on the quality of the soil in your garden. The benefit of growing a Calla lily in a pot is that it can be started earlier, so they’ll be ready to bloom by the spring. 

In some climates, potted Calla lilies can be deadheaded, treated for insects then moved indoors for the winter months. They can be used as both houseplants and outdoor plants, appreciated year-round.