With long-lasting, elegant blooms and thick stems, calla lilies are a favorite for wedding bouquets. They are also a symbol of birth and resurrection and are common at many Easter celebrations. Of course, these gorgeous flowers aren’t only for special occasions. Though they can be grown outside in warmer climates, anyone can learn how to grow calla lilies indoors for year-round enjoyment. In this article we’ll look at exactly that, and by the end you’ll have everything you need to know to grow calla lilies indoors.
Call Lilies Overview
As a native of Africa, the calla lily loves warmth, so it grows well in Zones 8 to 10 as a perennial. Those in colder climates often place it outdoors as an annual, but for long-lasting plants, indoor container growth is a better option.
The plants reach heights of 2 to 3 feet, with showy, funnel-shaped flowers topping thick, sturdy stems. Though the blooms are the star of the show, the large green arrow- or heart-shaped leaves, are lovely accents. The flowers typically bloom in June and last until fall, so you’ll have a consistent supply to enjoy.
Calla lilies are part of the Zantedeschia genus and have eight known species. Several of these are popular among gardeners and florists for cut flowers, though they are all lovely additions to any garden. The Z. aethiopica is a favorite for indoor spaces since it is an evergreen, offering flower and leaf production year-round.
Every other variety is deciduous, though each one offers distinctive features to consider. For instance, Z. albomaculat features ivory-white, pale yellow, or coral-pink spathes and heart-shaped, white-speckled leaves. For golden yellow flowers with freckled arrow-shaped foliage, consider Z. elliottiana for your garden. For a variety of colors, Z. rehmannii comes in white, yellow, pink, purple, mauve, and maroon.
Different varieties will tend to look different and have unique flower colors. Choose the one that appeals the most to you as they all have similar care.
Rather than growing from seeds or bulbs, calla lilies sprout from rhizomes. These modified stems feature nodes that send roots into the soil for new plants. Greenery using rhizomes to spread is perfect for border growth, though they can be invasive. Such aggressive spreading is easily contained in a pot when grown outdoors. For indoor gardens, you won’t have to worry about such spreading behavior.
When grown outdoors, calla lilies are best planted in the spring or early summer to avoid frost. They aren’t so picky when grown indoors, though planting them earlier in the year helps prevent disruptions in their growth cycle.
When planting, bury the rhizomes about 4 inches deep in well-draining, all-purpose potting soil. If the soil lacks nutrients, mix in some organic matter before planting. Most garden center planting soil will work perfectly fine. You can also use any type of standard planting container; just make sure it has proper drainage holes.
As a tropical plant, the calla lily prefers areas with plenty of warmth and light. Of course, you need to be careful about the type of lighting they are getting in your home to avoid damaging the plant. In moderate climates, full sunlight is best, so place your calla lily near a south-facing window if possible.
Direct sunlight in hot climates is too harsh for these plants, so partial shade is a better option. An east-facing window will offer soft morning light while protecting the flowers and foliage from the harsh afternoon rays. If you notice the tips of the leaves or flowers starting to brown then it may be receiving too much direct sunlight.
Calla lilies are often grown as aquatic plants, thriving near ponds or streams, so they can handle damp conditions. When growing a calla lily indoors, keep the soil moist and don’t let it dry out completely. Be careful not to overwater, or you could end up with soggy soil and damaged roots. In general, most gardeners will water their lilies about 2-3 times per week.
Keeping the plant well-fed is also crucial to ensure a healthy supply of elegant flowers. Add a well-balanced fertilizer during planting and again every spring. Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content, or flower production will suffer.
As tropical plants, calla lilies love warmth, so it does best in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Such temperatures should be easy to maintain indoors without overheating you or your other plants. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees, the plant will shift into its dormant stage. If you’re moving the plant in and out of the house, be sure to bring it in if the weather is cooling off and frost is imminent.
Calla lilies like moisture, so a bit of humidity in your home keeps this plant happy. To maintain the air’s moisture, add a humidifier or a pebble tray, placing them near the calla lily container. You can also check out our full guide with humidity-boosting tips.
Calla lilies rarely require pruning, though they do need to be tended to as their leaves and flowers die off. If you notice a fading bloom, use sterilized pruning shears to cut it off right below the flower’s base. If you don’t have shears, you can pinch it off with your thumb and fingers. You can also trim away any dying leaves, cutting them near the base of the plant. This not only promotes future growth, but also helps protect them from pests.
Leaves begin to die, flower production slows, and the plant shows the characteristic powdery coating.
Remove afflicted leaves and ensure good airflow. There are also fungicide options available.
Too much water can lead to root rot and other issues as the soil becomes overly moist.
Make sure you're watering the correct amount and allow the soil to dry between waterings.
Opposite of the above, too little water can lead to drooping leaves and a plant that looks unhealthy. It will also impact flower production.
Make sure you're watering enough, the soil should remain slightly moist without being soaked. Check daily to ensure proper soil moisture.
Grow Calla Lilies Indoors
With their long thick stems and unique trumpet-shaped flowers, calla lilies add a touch of elegance to any space. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates, but for those in northern regions, growing these beauties indoors allows you to enjoy them year-round. With several varieties to choose from, you can even have an array of distinctive colors to accentuate your home.
Calla Lilies FAQ
Is it easy to care for calla lilies?
Cally lilies don’t have any special requirements, so caring for them is easy, even for beginners. All they need is regular potting soil, consistent moisture, springtime fertilizer, and a sunny area to thrive.
Are calla lilies toxic?
Yes, calla lilies are toxic, so they must be handled with care. The sap can cause skin or eye irritation, so wearing gloves when pruning or cutting flowers is best. They are also poisonous, so no area of the plant should be ingested. Keep children and pets away from your calla lilies to avoid accidental poisoning.
What are common calla lily diseases?
When calla lilies are overwatered or aren’t receiving the proper air circulation, they are prone to a few diseases. These include bacterial soft rot, affecting the rhizomes, or botrytis, which is a filmy grey mold forming on the plant’s leaves, stems, and petals. Proper spacing between plants and avoid overwatering the plant or soaking foliage and flowers to prevent these diseases.