By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Few flowers have the elegance and simplicity of the calla lily. While not a true lily, callas are an integral part of weddings and funerals alike, their classic flowers representing love and devotion. Callas can get waist high and need plenty of water and a high phosphorus fertilizer. Fertilizing calla lily plants not only enhances overall health but promotes more and bigger blooms. Calla lily fertilization should also be done at planting.
Calla Lily Feeding at Planting
Feeding calla lily plants at planting and again each spring can help promote huge blooms with more flower production. Avoid high nitrogen feeds that will encourage foliar development but reduces flowers. These South African natives are heavy water users and require plenty of the right kind of nutrients for maximum flowering and healthy growth. Some tips on how to fertilize calla lily will ensure beautiful flowers and erect, vigorous plants.
Calla lilies grow from tubers. Just like bulbs and corms, these are underground storage organs that contain all the material the plant needs to produce leaves, stems, and flowers. The tubers need to be plump, free of blemishes, and injury. Inspect your tubers every year if you have to lift them and overwinter tubers indoors.
When you are ready to plant them in spring, prepare a well-draining garden bed or plant them in a container with good potting mix. Incorporate well-rotted compost, bone meal, or cow manure into the soil to begin a gradual feeding process. You may also want to give the tuber a bi-weekly diluted fish emulsion to stimulate growth.
Remember, feeding calla lily plants is only part of the equation. These are water lovers and must never be allowed to dry out.
How to Fertilize Calla Lily Annually
In southern climates, calla tubers can remain in the ground and will produce foliage year-round. In northern climes, these tender tubers should be lifted and stored indoors in a cool, dry location until spring or all danger of frost has passed. Plants that remain in the soil benefit from mulch over their root zone. This will slowly compost into the soil, enriching it while it also conserves moisture.
For an annual calla lily feeding, use an organic product or a time release blend. These deliver nutrients at a slow rate which the plant can easily uptake. You can also incorporate bone meal around the root zone to add phosphorus which enhances blooming. A high phosphorus formula may be used in spring for calla lily fertilization, but keep in mind this only delivers a high dose of one macro-nutrient and the plant will need a balanced feeding for overall health.
Other Calla Lily Nutrient Needs
Calcium is another crucial nutrient for calla lilies. It may be necessary to perform a soil test to determine if your garden soil has adequate calcium in it. For natural sources of calcium, the bone meal also works, as do eggshells. You may incorporate gypsum or lime to the soil as well before planting the tubers. This should be done at least six months prior to installing the tubers, so it takes a little pre-planning.
The plant needs nitrogen too, but avoid high nitrogen formulas which promote leaf and stem formation. Instead, use good compost which has a balance of nitrogen and carbon. This natural, slow release product will feed the tubers for a year as it gradually works into the soil.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Calla Lilies
Calla Lily Plant Care Tips For Beginners
Learn all about Calla Lily Plant Care. Grow Calla Lilies for their magnificent flowers in perennial borders or as a house plant. This easy to grow perennial plant is great for flower bouquets and is popular for weddings. Plant some calla lily bulbs into containers or grow them in borders or near ponds.
The exotic looking flowers of the Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) make it a popular perennial plant for cut flowers. This easy to grow perennial bulb is also a great plant for a border or near a pond . They tolerate a wide range of growing conditions including boggy soils.
Their fleshy, arrow-shaped leaves and flowers can grow up to 3 ft high and the plant is quite fast growing if provided with the right conditions.
Callas come in many varieties and colors. The most common and hardiest one is Zantedeschia aethiopica with its white flowers. You will also find yellow, peach, pink or red varieties. The more compact mini calla lily bulbs ('Little Gem', 'Perle von Stuttgart') are more suitable for smaller flower beds and containers .
Q. Calla Lily Identity Crisis
Last year I planted 2 separate calla lilies. I'm not sure the exact type, but they had dark green leaves with white spots. They never flowered, but I still kept them watered in hopes that they would bloom this year. Now my husband and I feel like we've gone crazy! The lilies that have come up are not the same as last year. I know it is the same spot, and we had nothing else planted in that flower bed except tulips. But they look like Asiatic lilies almost. There are no blooms, but it is a long stalk with many short dark green leaves growing straight out. Have we lost our minds? How could this happen? Seriously, there were no other plants even remotely close except the tulips. I have scoured the internet and can't find anything. I know it's not really important, but it's kinda driving me nuts. If you have any ideas, I would so appreciate them!
If you planted the calla lilies with a nursery pot, it is possible that some Asiatic lily seeds got mixed into the potting soil for the calla lilies. Nurseries are on some level plant factories, so sometimes, plant debris (including seeds), get mixed in with the soil and can sprout later.