Can Calla Lilies Be Planted Outside?

Calla lilies are not true lilies, but, like lilies, they grow beautifully in various colors. You’ll usually find them as part of the decor in many homes. As much as they do well indoors, can they also thrive outdoors?

You can plant calla lilies outside because they also thrive outdoors. They can bloom beautifully outdoors as long as they are in suitable soil and get the necessary care.

Calla lilies will bring extra elegance to your garden. You should consider planting them. Here’s all you need to know about cultivating calla lilies outside.

Planting Calla Leaves Outside: Important Tips

Here are some tips on how to successfully plant calla lilies outside.

  • Plant in suitable soil. This is the first and most important factor. Calla lilies do well in soil that isn’t packed too tightly. Ideally, it should be able to absorb and drain water very well.
  • Plant in moderately acidic soil. Calla lilies grow well in fairly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.5. Consult an expert If you can’t tell the soil’s acidity level.
  • When planting, position them correctly for optimum performance. The location of your calla lilies matters, especially in relation to the sun. If you live somewhere cold, they’ll need more sun than lilies planted in warmer climates, where they’d do better in partial shade.
  • Rhizomes grow best when planted 4 inches (10.16 cm) beneath the soil. Calla lilies grow from the rhizomes. Rhizomes have the shape of a bulb with tips – that’s what you plant. The plants need at least 6 inches (15.24 cm) between them for sufficient growing space.
  • Plant rhizomes with tips toward the sky. When planting rhizomes, ensure the side with the eyes is straight up, not facing deeper into the dirt. Cover it with nutritious loose soil when you put it in the hole.
  • Give them enough water. Calla lilies need enough water but not too much, especially when tender. Water the rhizomes adequately after planting and keep watering every day. However, check the soil to see if the water drains well after watering to avoid waterlogging.
  • Plant calla lilies during spring or summer. Calla lilies grow best in warm weather, so you should plant them between spring and summer. Calla lilies can’t survive in cold soil. Ideal planting soil should be at least 65 °F (18.33 °C).
  • Apply the correct fertilizer. Do not apply cow manure to your plant. It contains sodium and is harmful to calla lilies. Use any appropriate flower fertilizer or liquid fertilizer. Apply generously once every month till the lilies grow.

How To Care for Your Calla Lilies

Cultivating calla lilies doesn’t end with planting. You must tend to them adequately if they must grow well and survive. Some essential care practices include:

  • Adequate watering: Tender calla lilies need sufficient water. However, they won’t survive in excess water. When they’re grown, they can handle it, but at their tender stage, they’ll die off.
  • Proper drainage: Check your soil periodically to ensure it drains water well. Poor draining soils produce stagnant water, which can cause root rot.
  • Routine checks: Do routine checks on the root to see if they’re healthy or infested. Fungal diseases and bugs are the biggest enemies of calla lilies. Fungicide can help remedy fungal attacks if you catch them early enough. However, if you notice root rot, cut off the affected plant.
  • Fertilization: You should fertilize your calla lilies once every month. However, there’ll be no need to fertilize often if the soil is rich in nutrients. An expert can help you determine the level of nutrients in your soil.

Why Your Calla Lily Isn’t Doing Well Outdoors

If you’ve planted outdoor calla lilies and they aren’t thriving, it can be distressing. After all, calla lilies were originally outdoor plants. Unfortunately, just because they should be thriving doesn’t mean they will.

There are factors that can impede their growth, including excess or inadequate moisture and too much or too little sun. Nitrogen overdose may also play a role in their failure to flourish. 

I’ll explain them one by one.

  • Inadequate sunlight: Planting calla lilies in the perfect amount of sunlight is crucial to their growing success. Either too much or too little light can adversely affect your lilies. Tailor your planting space to suit the lilies’ needs in your particular climate.
  • Nitrogen overdose: Nitrogen is one crucial nutrient needed by calla lilies. Unfortunately, too much nitrogen is just as bad for them as too little. Signs of nitrogen overdose include brown patches on the leaves or large plants with no blooms. If you notice these signs, cut back on the nitrogen and work more phosphorus into the soil.
  • Excess or little water: As with sunlight, over- or under-watered calla lilies won’t grow and bloom properly. Too much water can cause root rot, but too little also creates problems. Keep your lilies on a watering schedule that will allow them to absorb and drain water effectively for optimal growth and flowering.

In planting calla lilies outside, ensure you check all these from time to time to have lush green beautiful calla lilies.

These Tips Will Help You Plant Calla Lilies in Cold Zones

Calla lilies do not thrive in cold zones because the roots can’t handle freezing soil. However, does this mean people living in cold zones can’t grow calla lilies?

Calla lilies can be grown in cold climates if you can give them some warmth. Planting in a pot is the best option in these circumstances. Keep the pot in a warm place and water appropriately.

Ensure the soil in the pot is porous and contains the right amount of nutrients. The pot should have pores underneath and a tray, which will serve as drainage. The water will leak out onto the tray. You can empty the tray when it’s filled.

You can replant when it’s springtime, and the cold in the ground is gone.

Here’s how to replant:

  1. Dig a hole of 4 inches (10.16 cm) deep. The hole should be as deep as the pot in which you planted the calla lily.
  2. Remove the calla from the pot. It’ll come out with the soil like they’re both molded together. By now, it has some leaves.
  3. You can separate the roots so you can plant them separately.
  4. Take one of the separated calla and plant.
  5. Cover with soil. Plant the remaining, giving at least 7 to 9-inch (17.78 to 22.86 cm) spacing or even more.

Intimate Queen Calla Lily

Here’s How Long It Takes for Your Calla Lilies To Bloom

Calla lilies planted outside have a higher chance of blooming than the ones planted in a pot. On average, calla lilies planted outside will bloom after three weeks of planting. It continues for eight weeks before dormancy occurs.

If you’re planting outside, plant during spring, and it’ll bloom from early summer till late summer. Dormancy sets in during winter.

Calla lilies are naturally perennials in warm zones. But in cold zones such as Alaska and Minnesota, they’re annual plants.

Therefore, when they go dormant during winter, you can leave them in the ground and stop watering. This method is only effective in warm zones. When spring comes again, start watering and fertilizing. They will grow again.

On the other hand, in cold zones, you will have to discard them during winter. Then the following spring, you’ll plant a new one.

Nevertheless, if you wish to preserve them, here is how to do it.

  1. Uproot your calla lilies.
  2. Cut off the foliage, leaving 2 inches (5.08 cm) of stem on the root.
  3. Use a brush, not water, to brush off the dirt from the root.
  4. Keep the root in a warm area for seven days. This would allow the root to dry well for the next planting season. This is the curing period.
  5. After curing it, put it in a box. Add some compost soil to keep it warm.
  6. Store it at a temperature not less than 50 °F (10 °C). You don’t want the root to freeze.
  7. Check the state of the root from time to time over the winter.

Caution When Tending Calla Lilies

Calla lilies add outstanding beauty when used as decor. A lot of people love planting them for that beautiful colorful result.

However, you need to be careful when handling calla lilies, as every part of them is acidic and harmful to humans and animals. Calla lilies contain irritants that are also poisonous when ingested, so never eat them.

When tending them, wear gloves so the irritant (calcium oxalate) doesn’t come in direct contact with your skin. Also, plant in a place where people don’t frequently pass. Keep children and pets away from calla lilies.


Calla lilies are naturally outdoor plants. When planted outside, ensure they have adequate sunlight, water, and the right amount of nutrients.

If any of these is lacking, it will affect their blooming. It may even lead to the death of the plant.

It takes three to eight weeks for calla lilies to bloom. Ensure you plant your calla lilies during spring so they can bloom by summer. In warm zones, you can leave the root in the ground throughout winter. In cold zones, you’ll either have to discard or uproot it and store it in a box throughout winter.

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