The Calla lily is a plant with large, green, arrowhead-shaped leaves and flowers surrounded by a spathe. Originally from Southern Africa, it prefers heat to cold and this can make it challenging to grow depending on where you live.
Along with temperature one of the things that makes growing them so hard is choosing between the two methods of propagation.
Propagating calla lilies from seeds involves using seeds produced from pollination to create another adult plant. On the other hand, propagating with cuttings is an asexual method where another plant is grown using parts from a single adult plant.
Both methods are perfectly viable and usually depend on preference and availability. However, each has differing methods that you’ll need to be aware of to get the best results. If you’re not sure which method to use, keep reading!
1. Calla Lily Propagation From Seed
Sexual reproduction refers to the using seeds produced by a plant after pollination of the female egg with the male pollen to propagate the plant. When sown under the right conditions, the seeds germinate, grow into mature plants, and produce more seeds. It is the most common method of propagation observed in nature.
If you’ve ever wondered how to propagate calla lilies from seeds, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to propagate calla lilies sexually:
You can collect seeds for propagation if you have mature calla lily plants. Calla lilies produce seed pods at the end of the flowering season. The pods start green and hard but become tan and soften after drying. Each pod contains one or more seeds.
Remove the seeds from the pods and dry them. You can also place them on cardboard which will help absorb some of the moisture from the seed. Once dry, store the seeds in an airtight container in a cool area until the planting season in spring.
You can buy seeds from a reputable vendor if you do not have mature plants.
Place the calla lily seeds in a damp paper towel for two to six weeks. Cover the paper towel in a plastic bag and put them in a well-lit area. During that time, if the seeds are viable, you will notice changes like the development of roots. That shows that the seeds are germinating and should be transferred to a seedling pot.
You need a starter tray and starter pots for a seedling starting kit. For the starter pots, consider buying the JTGONNI 200 Cells Starter Trays (available on Amazon.com). They provide value for money since they are reusable. They are also good for the environment since they are biodegradable.
For the starter tray, consider purchasing the Super Sprouter Deluxe Propagation Kit (available on Amazon.com). It has a humidity dome which is convenient since it negates the need to use a plastic bag to cover your seedlings. It also has a grow light that will give your calla lily seedlings sufficient light during germination.
Prepare a growth medium or use a premade seed starting mix. A standard starting mix will be sufficient; it should have soil, compost to provide nutrients, peat moss for moisture retention, and perlite to improve soil aeration.
Once you have your medium ready, here’s all you need to know:
- Pour the starting mix into the starter pots until they are packed, and place them in the starter tray.
- Remove the germinating seeds from the damp paper towel and transfer them into the starter pots, with a seed placed in each pot.
- Do not completely insert the seeds into the soil. Ensure the top of the seed is slightly visible.
First, ensure the seeds receive enough water initially. Pour about an inch of water into the starter tray and let the soil in the starter pots soak up the water. Once the soil is adequately moist, pour out any excess water left in the tray.
Use the humidity dome to cover the starter pots. That will ensure the soil remains moist and retains moisture in the air as the seeds continue germinating.
Calla lilies grow well in warmer areas; thus, placing the seed starting kit in a room with temperatures of about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius) is advisable.
Moreover, calla lilies perform well when exposed to sufficient amounts of light. When starting indoors, provide about 16 hours of light. A starter kit with a grow light makes that easier. If starting outdoors, do not expose the calla lily to direct sunlight, especially in hot climate zones.
Constantly monitor the conditions you provide for your calla lily seedlings. Too much moisture can result in root rot which will slow or stop growth.
Moreover, if the starter kit is outdoors, ensure you provide sufficient shade to the seedlings. Lastly, be careful in applying fertilizers to prevent nutrient deficiency or imbalance in the soil
The first few leaves produced by call lily are seed leaves; therefore, you should not transplant them then. Once the seedlings grow their second set of true leaves, you should transfer them to larger seedling pots. The pots should preferably be at least 6 inches deep.
The increased pot depth will give the calla lily root system space to grow, thus promoting better plant development. It would be best if you used an acidic growth medium similar to that used for azaleas.
Overall, growing a calla lily from a seedling is a lengthy process. Depending on your agricultural zone, you may not see flower blooms for at least two years, though most calla lilies propagate from seed flowers in their third year.
Alternatively, if you do not want to propagate calla lilies from seeds, you can reproduce them from cuttings. The appropriate cuttings for calla lily propagation are its rhizomes, a horizontal underground stem, unlike true lilies, which use bulbs or tubers for propagation.
Now that we’ve covered sexual propagation, let’s look at asexual propagation from cuttings.
On the other hand, asexual reproduction refers to propagation using a part of a plant to produce another genetically identical plant. Success requires using vegetative parts like leaves, roots, or stems. It has several advantages, including increasing plant numbers considerably shorter than seed reproduction.
Read along for a detailed review of the steps involved when growing calla lilies from cuttings.
You can obtain a healthy, viable rhizome from existing mature calla lily plants. The first step is to find an extensive and healthy rhizome. The best rhizome will have more than one eye, the point from which the plant will sprout.
More eyes mean the resultant plant is likely to produce more flowers. Once identified, cut out the rhizome using a sharp cutting tool.
Rhizomes grow best when planted directly into the soil; thus, you should ensure the soil has sufficient nutrients to support them. You should mix the soil with compost which will help increase nutrients in the soil and assist with drainage. In addition, the soil should be slightly acidic.
When propagating in a container, prepare a potting mix that provides similar nutrients, including acidic soil, perlite, and compost. You should also ensure the container is large enough to hold a fully grown plant.
Planting the right way can make or break the chances of your calla lily reaching maturity. Here’s how to properly plant and water your cutting:
- Place the rhizome at most four inches (10 cm) into the soil and ensure the rhizomes are at least twelve inches (30 cm) apart to allow the growth of healthy and lush calla lilies. The eyes should face upwards and be slightly covered.
- Next, ensure you soak the soil with water since calla lilies require substantial water to grow. The lilies will need at least an inch of water a week while they grow and more when it gets hotter than usual.
- If you’re using a container, place the rhizomes in containers at a depth of four inches (10 cm). However, since a container has space constraints, you can plant the rhizomes closer to each other at around four inches (10 cm). Calla lilies grown in containers require more water than those grown in fields since they have limited access to water.
After planting, you must ensure the growing conditions are conducive to sustaining growth. If you are growing the rhizome in a container, you will need to use fertilizer to provide nutrients. Thus you should apply liquid fertilizer every few weeks.
Moreover, ensure you grow the rhizome in a place that receives sufficient but indirect light. Therefore, in hot areas like California, Texas, or Florida, you should plant in a location with some shade.
However, in cooler regions, you can grow them directly under the sun since it does not get too bright and will not scorch the leaves.
Note that calla lilies are susceptible to some bacterial and fungal infections. Bacterial infections include root rot, pythium, and crown rot, while fungal infections include powdery mildew, gray mold, and blight.
The best way to deal with such issues is by using fungicides. However, you can deal with powdery mildew by improving air circulation around your calla lilies.
Common pests that attack calla lilies include aphids, snails, and slugs. You can remove aphids by spraying the plant with a strong stream of water. You can also hand-pick slugs to protect your lilies though it should be done at night since that is when they are active.
Calla lilies produce magnificent green leaves and beautiful flowers that bloom throughout the summer. You can propagate them using their seeds or cutting the rhizome of a mature plant. Propagation from seeds is a more complex process and takes longer to achieve a mature plant but ensures the genetic versatility of your plants.
However, rhizome propagation is more straightforward and takes shorter to produce identical mature plants.
You may also like:
- Can Calla Lilies Be Planted Outside?
- Do Calla Lilies Come Back Every Year?
- How To Transplant Calla Lily
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.