Why Are My Calla Lilies Turning Brown? [Causes & Fixes]

Calla lilies are an excellent addition to your outdoor garden or indoor plant collection because of their beautiful blooms. They are also easy to grow because they do not require many specialized conditions.

Thus, you will likely find them in US states with warm climates like North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida.

Your calla lilies can turn brown for multiple reasons, including over-exposure to direct sunlight, excessive water, too much heat, and attacks from pests. They can also turn brown because of frost damage and fertilizer burns. Thus, you should closely monitor your lilies for these issues.

This article will explore the various factors that cause calla lilies to turn brown. It will also suggest simple remedies to revive your calla lilies when they turn brown and how to care for them when planted outside. Keep reading to find out more!

Common Reasons Calla Lilies Turn Brown

If there is a problem with the planting setup or growing conditions, you will notice a change in your calla lilies’ growth pattern. These changes include browning your calla lilies’ leaves and tips. So, what causes this to happen?

Fertilizer Burn

Fertilizers are meant as supplements to help plants obtain the necessary nutrients for healthy growth that are lacking in the soil. While most people understand the importance of fertilizers, many do not know the importance of their correct application. This problem is especially true for many beginner calla lily farmers.

Usually, more fertilizer is not always the solution. The reason is that, after some time, the soil becomes saturated with salts from the fertilizer, resulting in worse growing conditions.

Calla lilies are highly susceptible to fertilizer burns. Therefore, you must apply the right amount of fertilizer. Using more fertilizer than you require is bad for the calla lilies root system because the saturated salts cause root damage.

This root damage results in the calla lilies’ leaves turning brown. Therefore, if your calla lilies start turning brown, one of the reasons could be overfeeding the plant with fertilizer.

Cold Weather

Another common reason your calla lilies may turn brown is frost damage because of prolonged exposure to the cold weather. Calla lilies usually do well in warm weather with mild temperatures.

They are warm-weather plants and are unlikely to survive the cold season. Therefore, exposing the plant to cold weather raises its chances of developing issues such as browning leaves because of frost damage.

Usually, calla lilies start experiencing frost damage when subjected to temperatures lower than 50℉ (10℃). Therefore, you should always ensure your plant maintains a temperature of about 70℉ (21℃) to keep it healthy.

Poor Drainage

Calla lilies also usually start browning when planted in soil with poor drainage. This lack of drainage could be because of poor soil quality or a potting medium with poor drainage. Drainage affects the root’s health by tampering with aeration and the moisture content available to the plant.

Poor drainage causes calla lilies to turn brown because the excess water rots their roots. This root decay affects the calla lilies’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, thus turning brown.

Excess Sunlight

Calla lilies are warm-weather plants and thus love warm temperatures and sunlight. However, exposing the plant to direct sunlight for prolonged spells usually results in sunburns and browning of the leaves. Therefore, excessive sunlight is one of the most common causes of browning calla lilies, primarily if grown outside in the direct sun.

Improper Watering

Another major factor that causes calla lilies to start browning is improper watering. Improper watering usually occurs when you over-water, under-water, or use poor-quality water to irrigate the calla lilies.

Inadequate water supply is a prominent contributor to browning calla lilies because when the plant lacks enough water, no hydration makes it to the leaves, causing them to dry and turn brown.

On the other hand, over-watering the plant also causes the water lilies’ roots to rot, thus affecting the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients. This process also causes the calla lilies to turn brown. Therefore, you should never underwater or overwater your calla lilies if you want them to grow healthy.

Finally, the water quality also matters because bad water contains minerals not suitable for the growth of calla lilies. For instance, tap water has high amounts of fluoride, which affects calla lilies and makes them turn brown.

Pest Attacks

Another common reason the leaves of your calla lily plant turn brown is the attacks from harmful insects and pests. Usually, pests such as caterpillars, slugs, and snails boreholes and leave brown marks on plant leaves and stem.

Others like spiders and aphids usually suck sap from the plant’s leaves, causing them to turn color to brown or yellow. Therefore, if you find your calla lilies with brown leaves and marks, check if they are pest infested.

End of Life

Sometimes you can do everything right and still observe your calla lily turning brown. In such cases, your plant is probably at the end of its life. Plants usually start drying, dropping, and browning their leaves when they grow older. This browning is a natural part of their life cycle.

Therefore, if you cannot establish another explanation for your plant’s withering and browning, consider that it may have reached its end of life.

What To Do When Calla Lilies Turn Brown

It is never a good sign when your calla lilies start turning brown. However, this should not worry you much if you discover this issue because there are a few options you can use to curb the problem. You can cut off the affected leaves to prevent spreading any fungal disease to healthy plant parts.

You can also slow the watering if the problem causing the browning is overwatering. Also, water your calla lilies at the root instead of the leaves and change to quality potting soil with better drainage. This bottom watering will help you curb further browning and allow the plant to regain its healthy color.

Is It Okay To Cut Dead Flowers Off My Calla Lily?

Cutting dead flowers off your calla lily is okay because it allows new healthy flowers to blossom again. It also protects your calla lily because dead plant parts usually attract pests interested in dry decaying matter. It will also encourage healthier foliage and stems.

Dead plant parts are never good for any plant. Therefore, you should cut dead flowers off your Calla lilies whenever you spot them. These dead flowers usually affect the plant’s appearance and attract pests and insects searching for dried decaying plant matter to eat. These insects will eat the dead flowers and spread infections to healthy plant parts in the process.

Therefore, always cut the dead flowers. However, it would help if you cut them using the correct method to avoid ruining the calla lilies. Do not use your hands to pull off the dead plant because you could easily damage the plant. Instead, use a pair of shears or scissors to cut the dead flower off at the stalk’s base by carefully slicing the stem.

Will My Calla Lilies Survive Indoors?

Calla lilies can survive indoors, although they are primarily outdoor plants. It all depends on the growing conditions and the care you give them. Pay attention to the primary growing conditions such as water, temperature, lighting, and exercise moderation if you want healthy indoor calla lilies.

Calla lilies are relatively easy to grow because they can survive indoors and outdoors. However, you must always take a few measures depending on whether the plant is indoor or outdoor. You should observe some primary growing conditions for your lilies’ indoor survival.

Ensure the plants receive adequate lighting because they need sunlight to make food. If you place the potted plants in a room with inadequate lighting, you should take them out regularly for a small amount of direct sunlight. This process ensures that the plants do not lack any factor necessary for their growth. 

It would be best to exercise moderation when watering the plants or applying fertilizer. Too much water, fertilizer, or heat from direct sunlight will cause your indoor calla lilies to wither and die or grow into frail plants.

How Should I Take Care of a Calla Lily Outside?

You should take care of a calla lily outside by placing it in a fully or partially shaded area to avoid the sun’s intensity. Also, water your lilies regularly and apply appropriate concentrations of fertilizer to avoid fertilizer burns. You should also check your lilies regularly for pests or diseases.

Calla lilies are easy to grow outside because they are primarily outdoor plants. Therefore, they can grow out in the open sun without a problem, provided you meet the primary conditions such as adequate water and well-drained soils.

[204Pcs] Calla Lily Seeds for Planting Mixed Colors


Calla lilies are easy to grow because they require basic growing conditions to blossom. However, the factors discussed above, such as improper watering and excess sunlight, can cause them to start browning. When this happens, try cutting off the dead flowers and changing the growing conditions. These methods will help you grow healthy indoor and outdoor calla lilies.

You may also like: