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7 Ways To Garden With Calla Lilies

by Amanda

garden with calla lillies aka Zantedeschia aethiopica

Calla Lilies, also known as Zantedeschia aethiopica, are native to South Africa.

Calla Lilies, with their stylish fluted blooms are popular in bouquets and are often grown in cutting gardens. Native to South Africa, these tropical bulbs (which need to be dug up at season's end for those of us in cold areas) have been embraced by home gardeners across the country.

Calla Lilies are an extremely versatile annual and offer food for pollinators, color for small space or container gardens and – let’s not forget – armfuls of cut blooms that professional florists and DIY flower arrangers live for.

I’ve put together seven ways to garden with Calla Lilies in your landscape to give you some ideas and inspiration for growing these colorful plants.

garden with calla lilies for cut bouquets

Cut Calla Lilies can last up to 2 or 3 weeks in a vase.

1. Plant A Cutting Garden With Callas

Calla Lilies are prized in early summer bouquets and are also popular with brides. One of my favorite uses of Calla Lilies is in a cutting garden, where you can snip blooms guilt-free and enjoy spectacular bouquets throughout the summer months. Pair them with Dahlias and Gladiolus in your cutting garden for flowers all the way until frost. Calla Lilies can last up to two or three weeks in a vase, under the right conditions.

Calla Lilies typically bloom about two months (65 days) after planting.

Tips On Getting Your Calla Lilies to last Longer In A Vase:

  • Give the plants a thorough soaking the night before you are going to cut them.
  • Cut your Calla blooms in the early morning before the hot afternoon sun hits them.
  • Use a pair of sharp scissors or a very sharp knife to make a clean cut. Using dull tools can result in crushing or piercing the water vessels in the stem, which makes it hard for them to absorb water.
  • Place your cut Calla Lilies in a deep, clean vase.
  • Place the bouquet in a cool area in the home that doesn’t receive full sun to help the blooms last longer.

cutting garden with calla lilies

Create a cutting garden with Calla Lilies, Dahlias and Gladiolus for fresh cut flowers all summer long!

2. Plant Calla Lilies In Groupings of 3-5 (Odd Numbers are Best)!

This is an important design tip that can sometimes be hard to follow, but Calla Lilies (and most flowering plants) look best planted in clumps of odd numbers. Plant at least three rhizomes together in one spot in the garden. Lone Callas, although pretty, just won’t give off the same drama as a clump of 5 or 7.

Planting in larger clumps also makes it easier for pollinators to locate and reap the benefits of your Calla Lilies.

3. Grow Calla Lilies to Attract Pollinators

Whether you’re planting an entire garden dedicated to pollinators, or are just looking to add more pollinator-friendly plants throughout the garden, Calla Lilies are an amazing option. The colorful, tubular flowers are a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds (who love to stick their skinny beaks inside, searching for nectar).

Be sure to plant your Calla Lilies somewhere you can easily view them from a window or outdoor seating area. You’ll want to witness the parade of hummingbirds and butterflies coming to and from your elegant Calla blooms. Tip: remember to have the camera ready!

calla lily

If you’re gardening in a city or balcony, pair a container of Calla Lilies with a source of water and a hummingbird feeder for the ultimate pollinator city oasis.

4. Plant Calla Lilies To Repel Deer and Rabbits!

Calla Lilies are not only extremely easy to grow, but are also deer and rabbit resistant.  They are at the bottom of deer and rabbit’s list of palatable plants and although they may snack on a flower at the beginning of the season, once they do so, they should leave your precious flowers alone.

This makes Calla Lilies a great choice for summer color in areas that aren’t fenced off - you can even plant them along the outside border of a fence along your property.

For this reason, I utilize my open field to grow Calla Lilies. This area has no fencing around it and certainly gets frequent stops from deer and rabbits (especially at the berry bushes).  Planting Calla Lilies here gives me lots of space to grow multiple varieties.

5. Fill In Late-Summer Gaps in your Gardens

Another great way to use Calla Lilies in your garden is to fill in gaps of summer color throughout your existing flowerbeds. Early to mid-summer bare spots are often my nemesis in the garden and Callas are the perfect fix. They require almost no room to grow and can be tucked in between plants for a burst of low-maintenance summer color.

filling gaps in the garden with calla lilies

Calla Lilies are deer resistant, which makes them a great candidate for planting outside of fences and in border gardens.

When filling in gaps in your garden with Calla Lilies, remember to plant at least three rhizomes together to create a clump of colorful blooms.

6. Add Color To Containers And Small Space Gardens

One of my favorite ways to use Calla Lilies throughout my property is to plant them in containers. They are so easy to grow and so impactful, whether you’re looking to liven up a window box or create blocks of color on your patio or balcony, Calla Lilies certainly fit the bill.

Whether you’re growing Callas in containers or in the garden, we recommend using an organic bulb fertilizer once per month until they start to bloom. This will help keep the plant healthy and grow stronger, bigger blooms.

planting calla lilies in containers

Plant Calla Lily rhizomes three inches below the surface of the soil.

How To Plant Calla Lilies In Containers:

  1. Choose a container with drainage holes that is at least 10-12 inches in diameter. Try to have fun pairing a colorful pot with your Calla Lilies.
  2. Use an organic potting mix and fill the pot about halfway with soil – you’ll want the rhizomes to rest about three inches below the rim of the pot.
  3. Set the calla lily rhizomes on top of the soil and cover with soil up to the top of the rim, leaving about ½ inch of space.
  4. Water thoroughly to remove any air pockets.
  5. Place the container in an area – indoors or out – that receives at least six hours of sun per day.
  6. To get a jump start on spring growth, plant your bulbs indoors in early spring and bring them outdoors once the temperatures warm up and there is no more chance of frost.
  7. Water thoroughly once the top of the soil beings to dry out, making sure to soak the pot before the plant gets completely dry. This should be several times per week, depending on the location of the container.

7. Plant Calla Lilies Year After Year

Although Calla Lilies are technically an annual in areas where the ground freezes, you can easily dig up your rhizomes and store them over the winter to re-plant in spring.

white calla lilies in the garden

White varities of calla lilies are stunning , and would be delightful with other white-bloomers in a moon garden.

How To Store Your Calla Lilies For Spring Planting:

  • Reduce watering after your Calla Lilies have finished blooming for the season and the leaves start to turn yellow.
  • Once the foliage dies back completely, cut it down to the ground.
  • Dig up your rhizomes, clean them off with water and let them air dry for at least 12 hours.
  • Store rhizomes in peat moss, paper bags or a crate  – they just need to have some air ventilation – in a cool, dry area that stays at least 50 degrees.
  • Come spring, re-plant once there is no more chance of frost in your area and ground temperatures have warmed.

There’s a reason Calla Lilies are a must-have for gardeners all around the country. They serve a multitude of purposes – spectacular summer color, attract pollinators, make for gorgeous cut bouquets and more – without a lot of effort.