How Long Do Calla Lilies Last?

If you consider adding calla lilies to your garden, this unique species returns year after year to bring gorgeous color to any outdoor space. While the Calla Lily is native to South Africa, this flower can grow successfully anywhere in the United States.

However, some people wonder how long they can expect their calla lilies to last as they are getting ready to start growing them.

Calla lilies last almost two weeks in a vase with water, providing a focal point to your cut flower arrangement. They grow actively for four months in spring and summer. Calla lilies will return annually to add color and sophistication to any perennial flower combination.

Since calla lily varieties have different blooming times in the warm months, you can enjoy them from late spring until early fall. Keep reading to learn where calla lilies grow in the US, how to plant and nurture them, and when to leave them in the ground or dig them up to overwinter indoors.

The Life of a Calla Lily

Calla lilies in a pot or planted in the ground will grow leaves for about six weeks in the late spring and summer. The calla lilies will bloom in majestic green-spotted, heart-shaped leaves in the next six weeks. This plant has a trumpet-shaped, flowering spike with a curving flower petal called a spathe.

This plant returns yearly to grace your garden with a breathtaking, regal appearance. However, calla lilies do not bloom at one time since there are early, mid, and late bloomers. This means you can plan to have blooming calla lilies for weeks in the spring and summer.

Cut calla lilies will last two weeks in a vase with water. Follow these directions to ensure gorgeous calla lily flowers for much longer than just a few days:

  1. Look for fully-open flowers as they won’t open after cutting as many cutting flowers will.
  2. Fill a vase with water and dissolved flower food (mixed according to package directions) to a depth of two inches (5 cm) and place your flowers inside.
  3. Put a single aspirin in the water if you don’t have flower food.
  4. Place the vase out of direct sunshine.
  5. Check the calla lilies daily to look for split stem ends.
  6. Cut the stems beneath running water every third day.
  7. Rinse the vase and add clean water with plant food.
  8. Remove any withered or dead leaves.

The Calla Lily Symbolism

The calla lily flower is a sought-after addition to many bridal bouquets for its symbolic meaning of purity, holiness, and faithfulness. The name “calla” comes from the Greek word for beauty. They represent beauty and elegance and frequently signify new beginnings. 

What Is a Calla Lily?

A calla lily grows from a rhizome into a classic flower with white-dotted leaves. They grow in full and part shade, returning yearly to elevate your garden and landscape spaces with their distinct appearance.

Calla lilies come in multiple colors and grow to a height of one to two feet. You can grow calla lilies in pots or in the ground for a pretty flower that stands out in a bouquet. They tend to be so pretty, in fact, that they’re always a favorite for weddings!

Where Calla Lilies Grow in the US

Calla lilies are hardy enough to stay in the ground all year in the southern states of:

  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Florida

They grow when the weather turns warm in the summer but can hold their own throughout the year. This flower also grows equally well on the West Coast of the US in California and other areas where the winters are mild.

In colder climates like New York, Massachusetts, and other locations in the Northeast to Midwestern states like Idaho and Oklahoma, calla lilies will still grow, but you must dig them up once the growing season is done.

How To Plant Calla Lilies in the US States

Planting Calla lilies is the same for every US state. Like other perennial bulbs and rhizomes, calla lilies do best in full sun in states where the summers are warm but not blazing hot.

If you live in a hot state like Florida, Louisiana, or Texas, plant the calla lilies in part shade to relieve them from the hottest sun’s rays.

Planting calla lilies in the ground is easy. Here are the steps to grow them properly:

  1. Locate the area where you wish to plant the calla lilies. Remember that they need plenty of sunlight to thrive and flower, but make sure they get some shade if you live in a hot area.
  2. Amend the planting bed with compost to hold moisture for the plant roots.
  3. Dig a hole in the ground three to four inches (7-10 cm) deep.
  4. Space holes six to eight inches apart (16-20 cm).
  5. Make sure the green shoots are facing up toward the sun.
  6. Cover with soil and pat down lightly.
  7. Water with the shower attachment on your garden hose.
  8. Cover the planted space with mulch to preserve moisture.

Planting calla lilies in pots is also a breeze, making it simple to take them indoors during the cold months:

  1. Start calla lilies early in the spring by planting them indoors in a clay pot.
  2. Choose a clay pot at least ten to twelve inches (25-31 cm).
  3. Fill the pot with half-fertilized potting soil and half sand.
  4. Plant rhizomes one inch (2 cm) below the soil.
  5. Space the rhizomes one or two inches (2-4 cm) apart.
  6. Water the plants well and ensure there is adequate drainage.
  7. Position the pot where it gets sun and shade throughout the day.
  8. Water when the top soil feels dry to the touch.

Calla lilies can do well growing in pots in your windows. You can place the pots outdoors when the weather reaches 70°F (21°C). Continue to water the flowers when the topsoil is dry and ensure they receive at least six hours of sunlight daily.

Feeding Calla Lilies

This flower likes acidic soil of less than 6.5 pH. You should plan to feed the calla lilies a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. Mix the plant fertilizer according to package directions and water your plants until water drains out of the pot’s bottom.

Digging Up Calla Lilies for Winter Storage

When the cool fall air has arrived and frost has killed the foliage, this is the ideal time to dig up your calla lilies for winter storage. Because the bulbs multiply and spread beneath the ground, digging them up allows you to separate the bulbs for planting in more landscape spaces.

Remember that Calla Lilies in plant hardiness zones of 8-10 can stay in the ground all year. You should stop watering them and let them die back. They will return in the spring when the ground starts to warm up and other perennials begin to bloom.

Colder planting zones will kill the plants, so you should plan to dig them up for winter storage in a cool, dry place in your home (a basement is perfect).

Follow these steps to remove the calla lilies from the ground:

  1. Use a shovel or garden trowel to dig a circle around the lily plant.
  2. Remove the bulb gently from the ground.
  3. Brush away the excess dirt carefully from the bulbs.
  4. Do not wash the bulbs as dampness will cause rot.
  5. Trim the top foliage two inches (5 cm) above the bulb.
  6. Twist multiple connected bulbs to separate them if desired. 
  7. Lay the bulbs on newspaper or cardboard in the sun for several days until they dry out.
  8. Layer the bulbs in a cardboard box between newspaper or tissue paper.
  9. Store in a dry, cool place in your house.
  10. Replant the Calla Lilies in prepared soil after the danger of frost has passed.

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Choosing Calla Lily Varieties

Aside from flower color preferences, look for calla lily rhizomes with a plump, large, and dense appearance. Bigger rhizomes produce larger, hardier calla lily plants. This chart will help you select some of the most popular plant colors to suit your preference in a garden design:

Latin NameCommon NameFlower Color
ZantedeschiaCaptain RomanceDark pink and cream flower
ZantedeschiaBlack StarPurple/black flower
ZantedeschiaMozartPink/peach flower
ZantedeschiaCaptain AmigoGolden yellow center with orange petals flower
ZantedeschiaMangoBrown center with peach petals flower
ZantedeschiaPicassoDark purple petals with white edges flower
Zantedeschia elliottianaGolden Calla LilyBold yellow flower
Zantedeschia aethiopicaWhite Calla LilyWhite flower


Whether in Ohio or sunny Florida, you can grow calla lilies as a showy flower to grace your garden space and cut-flower bouquets. In the warmer states, the calla lilies can stay in the ground year-round, while in the colder, northern states, you should plan to dig them up and keep them in a cool, dry place for planting the next growing season. With their distinctive leaves and stately height, this flower belongs in any garden to add color and refinement.

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