How to grow calla lilies
Plant easy colourful calla lilies for the border, containers or the house
These beautiful, elegant lilies add a sculptural element to the late spring, early summer garden. Try growing a mass of them in a large container to provide a focal point at the end of a path, at the top of a flight of steps or in the centre of a round stone paving area. They are easy to grow, just make sure they are kept damp at all times and feed every couple of weeks. They can also be grown indoors as a houseplant as most of the lovely coloured ones available in the garden centre are tender. The pure white lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica or Arum Lily) is a hardy version and can be left in the garden all year round provided you protect the crown over winter. The Arum Lily can also be grown as a marginal pond plant in less than 30cm (1’) of water. The tender summer Calla lilies come in shades of pink, yellow, orange, purple and dark purple, there is also a variety with stunning cream spotted leaves.
The dry rhizomes are planted anytime from December through spring, for early spring to mid-summer flowering. If you are growing them in the garden the easiest way is to grow in a cheap plastic pot then sink this into gaps in the herbaceous border. Use a good quality loam-based compost, such as John Innes No 2. If planting straight into the garden mix in a good amount of well-rotted farm-yard manure or quality peat-free compost. Plant the rhizomes close to the surface, just and so covered, with the eyes uppermost. If you want them to flower really early plant in December and grow them on somewhere light and no less than 16C (61F) at night and about 18C (65F) during the day. They prefer a sunny site but will tolerate partial shade.
Feeding and watering
Keep them evenly moist, don’t let them dry out as this will retard their growth. Once the rhizomes have sprouted feed every couple of weeks with a high nitrogen fertiliser, then once they have started to form flower spikes, switch to a weekly feed or a high potash food, such as Tomorite. Once the flowers have faded stop feeding, and when the leaves have started to die back phase out the watering.
Just keep them evenly moist at all times. Once the leaves have died back cease watering and lift the rhizomes. Store them in barely damp coir compost somewhere cool, dark and frost free until it is time to plant them again in spring.
In early spring cut the rhizomes into pieces with a sharp knife, making sure each piece contains at least one eye.