How To Plant Calla Lilies Bulbs [ Full Guide ]

Calla lilies (Zantedeschia) are elegant and timeless flowers, known for their trumpet-shaped blooms and lush green foliage. These stunning flowers are commonly grown from bulbs and are popular in gardens and as cut flowers in floral arrangements. To ensure successful growth and beautiful blooms, it is crucial to plant calla lily bulbs correctly. In this comprehensive guide, we will outline the step-by-step process of planting calla lily bulbs, from selecting the right bulbs to caring for the plants as they grow.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Calla Lilies Bulbs

  1. Selecting the Right Bulbs: Choose healthy, firm calla lily bulbs with no signs of mold or damage.
  2. Choosing the Right Location for Planting: Select a planting site with well-draining soil, partial shade, and protection from strong winds.
  3. Preparing the Soil for Planting: Amend the soil with organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
  4. Planting Calla Lily Bulbs: Plant the bulbs at the correct depth, spacing them adequately, and water thoroughly.
  5. Caring for Calla Lilies: Provide regular watering, fertilization, and protection from pests and diseases.

Now, let’s delve into each step to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge to successfully plant and care for calla lilies in your garden.

Selecting The Right Bulbs

Selecting high-quality bulbs is the first step to a successful calla lily planting. When purchasing calla lily bulbs, look for firm, healthy bulbs that are free of mold, blemishes, or soft spots. Larger bulbs typically produce more robust plants and larger blooms. It is best to acquire bulbs from reputable nurseries or garden centers to ensure their freshness and viability.

Before planting, it is essential to inspect the bulbs for any signs of damage or disease. Discard any bulbs that appear rotten, shriveled, or show signs of mold. The ideal time for planting calla lily bulbs is in the spring, at least two weeks after the last frost date in your region.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting

Calla lilies thrive in locations with well-draining soil, partial shade, and protection from harsh winds. When selecting a site for planting calla lilies, consider the following factors:

Light And Shade

Calla lilies prefer partial shade, especially during the hottest part of the day. Plant them in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight throughout the day. This will help prevent the flowers from wilting or scorching due to excessive sunlight.

Soil Drainage

Good drainage is crucial for calla lilies, as they are susceptible to root rot in waterlogged soil. Avoid planting in low-lying areas where water accumulates, and ensure the soil drains well to prevent waterlogging. Raised beds or sloped areas can provide the necessary drainage for healthy calla lilies.

Wind Protection

Choose a location that offers protection from strong winds. Calla lily stems and leaves can be delicate, and exposure to strong winds can damage the plants and their blooms. If your garden is prone to strong winds, consider planting calla lilies near a fence, wall, or other windbreaks to shield them from gusts.

By selecting a suitable location that meets these criteria, you can provide an optimal growing environment for your calla lilies.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Calla lilies thrive in rich, well-draining soil. Before planting the bulbs, it is important to prepare the soil to provide an ideal growing medium for the plants. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for planting calla lilies:

Test The Soil

Conduct a soil test to determine its pH and nutrient levels. Calla lilies prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. The soil test results will guide you in making any necessary amendments to adjust the pH and nutrient levels.

Improve Soil Structure

Work organic matter, such as well-rotted compost or aged manure, into the soil to improve its structure and fertility. Organic matter enhances the soil’s ability to retain moisture and nutrients while promoting aeration and drainage, which are essential for healthy calla lilies.

Amend The Soil

If the soil pH is too high or low, amend it accordingly to bring it into the preferred range for calla lilies. Adding materials such as lime to raise pH or elemental sulfur to lower pH can help adjust the soil to the appropriate levels.

By preparing the soil to meet the specific needs of calla lilies, you can create an optimal growing environment that supports healthy plant growth and vibrant blooms.

Planting Calla Lily Bulbs

The process of planting calla lily bulbs involves careful consideration of spacing, planting depth, and watering. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure successful planting of calla lily bulbs:


Plant calla lily bulbs at a spacing of 12 to 18 inches apart. This spacing allows the plants to have sufficient room to grow and spread, while also enabling air circulation around the foliage, which helps prevent disease.

Planting Depth

When planting calla lily bulbs, place them at a depth of 2 to 4 inches in the soil. Ensure that the pointed end of the bulb faces upward, while the rounded, root end points downward. Planting at the correct depth provides the bulbs with the stability and insulation they need to develop strong, healthy roots.

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After planting the bulbs, water the soil thoroughly to settle it around the bulbs and initiate the growth process. Maintain consistent moisture in the soil to support the establishment of the bulbs, taking care not to water excessively and cause waterlogging.


Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, around the planted bulbs to help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Mulching also contributes to the overall health of the soil and provides a protective layer for the bulbs during their growth.

Container Planting

If planting calla lilies in containers, use a well-draining potting mix and ensure that the containers have drainage holes at the bottom. Plant the bulbs at the appropriate depth within the containers and water them thoroughly. Place the containers in a partially shaded area and provide regular care as the plants grow.

By following these planting guidelines, you can establish calla lilies with the best opportunity for healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Planting calla lily bulbs is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to enjoy the beauty of these elegant flowers in your garden or landscape. By carefully selecting high-quality bulbs, choosing the right planting location, preparing the soil, and following proper planting techniques, you can ensure that your calla lilies thrive and produce stunning blooms. With regular care, including watering, fertilization, and pest management, you can enjoy a bountiful display of calla lilies in your outdoor space. Embrace the process of planting calla lilies and witness the beauty they bring to your garden year after year.

Watering And Fertilizing Requirements

Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) are popular flowering plants admired for their elegant trumpet-shaped blooms. While calla lilies are often grown from rhizomes, planting calla lily bulbs is another popular method of propagation. Planting calla lily bulbs allows gardeners to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent flowers without the hassle of growing them from seeds or dividing existing plants.

Calla lilies require consistent moisture to thrive, but they do not tolerate waterlogged soil. When planting calla lily bulbs, it is essential to choose a well-draining location. Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve drainage.

To properly water calla lily bulbs, provide them with a thorough watering immediately after planting. Afterward, keep the soil slightly moist, but not overly saturated. Water the plants deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, ensuring that the water penetrates the root zone.

Fertilizing calla lilies is crucial for strong growth and prolific blooms. Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formulation, at planting time. Additionally, top-dress the soil with compost or a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring. Repeat the application every four to six weeks during the growing season.

Mulching And Weed Control

Mulching around calla lily bulbs helps regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and suppress weed growth. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the plants after planting. Make sure to leave a small space around the base of each bulb to prevent rotting.

Regular weeding is essential to prevent competition for nutrients and water. Remove any weeds that appear around the calla lily bulbs, taking care not to disturb the delicate rhizomes beneath the soil. Hand weeding is recommended to avoid damaging the bulbs or the shallow rooting system of the plants.

Providing Adequate Sunlight

Calla lilies thrive in areas with bright, indirect sunlight. When choosing a planting location, opt for a spot that receives at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day. If planted in full sun, calla lilies may suffer from leaf scorch and reduced flower production. Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal for optimal growth.

In regions with extremely hot summers, some afternoon shade may be beneficial to protect the calla lilies from excessive heat stress. Consider planting them in a location that receives dappled shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Temperature And Humidity Considerations

Calla lilies are native to regions with moderate temperatures and high humidity, such as South Africa and parts of South America. To ensure successful growth, it is essential to provide them with a suitable temperature and humidity range.

Ideal temperatures for calla lilies range from 60 to 75°F (15 to 24°C) during the day and 50 to 65°F (10 to 18°C) at night. Extreme heat or cold can adversely affect their growth and flower production. If you live in a region with extreme temperatures, consider growing calla lilies in containers that can be moved indoors during unfavorable weather conditions.

Humidity levels between 50% and 70% are ideal for calla lilies. If you live in a dry climate, consider using a humidifier near the plants or misting them regularly with water to increase humidity levels.

Planting calla lily bulbs is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to enjoy the beauty of these exquisite flowers. By providing the right conditions, including proper watering, fertilizing, mulching, sunlight, and temperature and humidity considerations, you can ensure the successful growth and vibrant blooms of your calla lilies. Follow the steps outlined in this guide, and you will be well on your way to creating a stunning display of calla lilies in your garden.

Care And Maintenance Tips

Calla lilies are popular plants known for their elegant and distinctive trumpet-shaped flowers. These beautiful flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and red, and are often used in floral arrangements and as potted plants. If you’re looking to add calla lilies to your garden or indoor space, planting the bulbs is a great way to get started.

  1. Choosing the Right Location: Calla lilies thrive in well-drained soil and prefer areas with full or partial sunlight. When selecting a location, choose an area that receives at least six hours of sun per day. If you live in a region with extreme heat, consider providing some shade during the hottest parts of the day.

  2. Preparing the Soil: Before planting calla lilies, it’s important to prepare the soil to create an optimal growing environment. The soil should be rich in organic matter and well-draining. If your soil is heavy clay or tends to retain too much moisture, consider adding compost or well-rotted manure to improve drainage.

  3. Planting Depth: Calla lily bulbs should be planted around 2 to 4 inches deep in the soil. The pointed end of the bulb should be facing upwards, and the bulb should be covered with soil. Space the bulbs about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for proper growth and airflow.

  4. Watering: Calla lilies require regular watering, especially during their active growth period. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to rot and other diseases. Water deeply, allowing the water to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Avoid watering the leaves, as this can promote fungal diseases.

  5. Fertilizing: Calla lilies benefit from regular fertilization to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring when new growth appears. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can result in excessive foliage growth and fewer flowers.

  6. Mulching: Mulching around calla lilies can help to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Apply a layer of organic mulch such as straw, wood chips, or shredded bark around the plants, being careful to avoid covering the bulbs themselves. Replenish the mulch as needed throughout the growing season.

  7. Staking: Depending on the variety, calla lilies can grow quite tall and may require staking to prevent them from bending or flopping over. Place stakes in the ground around the plants and gently tie the stems to the stakes using garden twine or plant ties. This will help to provide additional support and keep the plants upright.

  8. Deadheading: To encourage prolonged blooming, it’s recommended to remove faded flowers regularly. This process, known as deadheading, prevents the plants from expending energy on seed production and redirects it towards producing more blooms.

  9. Winter Care: Calla lilies are not frost-tolerant and will need protection during the winter months in colder climates. In regions where temperatures consistently drop below freezing, consider digging up the bulbs after the foliage has died back and storing them indoors until the following spring. We will discuss the process of harvesting and storing calla lily bulbs in more detail later in this article.

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Dealing With Pests And Diseases

Despite their beauty, calla lilies are not immune to pests and diseases. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to address them:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, green insects that feed on plant sap and can cause distorted growth and yellowing leaves. To control aphids, spray the plants with a strong stream of water to dislodge them, or use insecticidal soap if the infestation is severe.

  2. Snails and Slugs: These pests can munch on the leaves and flowers of calla lilies, leaving behind telltale slime trails. To deter snails and slugs, remove any debris or hiding spots near the plants and use organic slug pellets or beer traps to lure and eliminate them.

  3. Fungal Diseases: Calla lilies are susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. To prevent these diseases, ensure proper air circulation around the plants by spacing them adequately. Avoid overhead watering, as moisture on the leaves can promote fungal growth. If signs of disease appear, remove and destroy affected plant parts and consider using a fungicide as a last resort.

  4. Thrips: Thrips are tiny insects that feed on the leaves and flowers of calla lilies, causing silver streaks or discoloration. To control thrips, remove and destroy affected plant parts, and consider using insecticidal soap or neem oil to keep their population in check.

Propagating Calla Lilies

If you want to expand your collection of calla lilies or share them with friends and family, propagating them is a great option. There are two common methods for propagating calla lilies: division and seed propagation.

  1. Division: Divide calla lily bulbs every few years to ensure healthy growth and prevent overcrowding. Wait until the plants have finished blooming and the foliage has died back in late summer or early fall. Carefully dig up the bulbs, taking care not to damage them. Gently separate the smaller bulb offsets from the main bulb and replant them in a prepared soil bed or in individual pots. Ensure each division has a healthy root system. Water the newly planted divisions thoroughly and provide the same care and maintenance as mature plants.

  2. Seed Propagation: Propagating calla lilies from seeds is a lengthier process but can be rewarding. Collect mature seed pods from the plants once they turn brown and start to open. Remove the seeds from the pods and wash off any pulp or debris. Fill seed trays or small pots with a well-draining seed-starting mix and sow the seeds on the surface. Lightly press the seeds into the soil and cover them with a thin layer of vermiculite or fine sand. Keep the soil consistently moist and place the trays or pots in a warm, bright location (but out of direct sunlight). Germination can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Once the seedlings have grown two or three leaves, transplant them into individual pots or a prepared bed, following the same care guidelines as mature plants.

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Harvesting And Storing Calla Lily Bulbs

After the blooming season, calla lily plants will naturally enter a dormant phase. If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s important to dig up the bulbs and store them indoors until the following spring. Here’s how to properly harvest and store calla lily bulbs:

  1. Timing: Wait until the foliage has completely died back before harvesting the bulbs. This typically occurs in late fall or early winter.

  2. Digging up the Bulbs: Carefully dig up the calla lily bulbs using a garden fork or shovel. Gently loosen the soil around the bulbs to avoid damaging them. Shake off excess soil and remove any dead or damaged foliage.

  3. Cleaning: Rinse the bulbs with water to remove any remaining soil. Inspect each bulb for signs of damage or disease. Discard any bulbs that are soft, mushy, or discolored.

  4. Drying: Allow the bulbs to air dry for a few days in a cool and well-ventilated area. This will help prevent rot and promote healthy storage.

  5. Storage: Once the bulbs are dry, store them in a cool, dark, and dry location. Place the bulbs in a mesh or paper bag, or wrap them individually in newspaper. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and lead to rot. Check the bulbs periodically during storage and discard any that show signs of rot or disease.

  6. Replanting: In the spring, when all danger of frost has passed, you can replant the calla lily bulbs in your garden or containers. Follow the planting guidelines mentioned earlier in this article.


Planting calla lily bulbs is a rewarding and enjoyable gardening endeavor. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy the elegant and vibrant blooms of calla lilies year after year. Remember to choose a suitable location, prepare the soil, provide adequate watering and fertilization, and protect the plants from pests and diseases. With the right techniques, you can propagate calla lilies to expand your collection or share with others. Additionally, by harvesting and storing the bulbs during the dormant season, you can ensure their survival and vibrant reblooming in the following spring. So, get ready to add the beauty and grace of calla lilies to your garden or indoor space.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Calla Lily Bulbs?

Calla lilies should be planted in the early spring, after the threat of frost has passed. If you live in a warmer climate, they can also be planted in the fall.

How Deep Should I Plant Calla Lily Bulbs?

Calla lily bulbs should be planted about 4-6 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up. If your soil is heavy and tends to retain moisture, plant them slightly shallower.

Do Calla Lilies Need Full Sun Or Shade?

Calla lilies do well in both full sun and partial shade. They prefer at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, but too much direct sun can cause their leaves to burn.

How Often Should I Water Calla Lily Bulbs After Planting?

After planting, water the bulbs thoroughly and then keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Once the plant begins to grow, water it deeply once a week, allowing the soil to almost dry out between waterings.

Can I Plant Calla Lily Bulbs In Containers?

Yes, calla lilies can be grown successfully in containers as long as the container has good drainage and the soil is kept consistently moist. Be sure to fertilize regularly since plants in containers may have less access to nutrients in the surrounding soil.