Why Are My Calla Lilies Turning Green? [Reasons & What to Do]

Healthy calla lilies are white, red, pink, or yellow 一 not green. If yours are turning green, you have every reason to want to find out what’s causing it so you can take appropriate action. So what might be behind your calla lilies’ color change?

Calla lilies turn green due to poor lighting, too much nitrogen, or dormancy. If the color change is caused by the first two issues, you must address the problem as soon as possible.

The rest of this article will address everything you need to know about why calla lilies turn green — causes, solutions, and preventative measures. I’ll also touch on other issues that can signal poor health in your calla lilies. Let’s begin.

Reasons Calla Lilies Turn Green and Their Fixes

When young calla lilies turn green, it’s often due to poor lighting, too much nitrogen, or dormancy. Since these issues have different causes and remedies, the best way to understand them is to approach each independently.

Let’s do just that.

Excess Nitrogen

Pretty much all garden plants need nitrogen, and calla lilies aren’t any different. The difference is that these flowers are specific when it comes to nitrogen requirements.

And, it’s not just the nitrogen levels you need to get right; you also want to ensure that its ratio to phosphorus and potash favors calla lilies.

If you’re familiar with soil enhancement, you probably know that commercial fertilizers have what’s known as the “NPK ratio.” Essentially, this ratio denotes the proportions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in a fertilizer or soil.

The ideal NPK ratio for calla lilies is 4:1:3. This ratio provides these plants with enough nitrogen for their daily needs without causing flowering issues.

If your soil nitrogen levels go up beyond this balance, your calla lilies won’t get enough potassium.

Why? Because extremely high nitrogen levels can cause potassium deficiency, according to OMEXCanada.

A combination of potassium deficiency and too much nitrogen is the perfect recipe for flowering issues because:

  • Excess nitrogen turns calla lilies green.
  • A potassium deficiency reduces the quality of flowers since this macronutrient plays an important role in flowering, among other things.

To find out whether too much nitrogen is what’s making your calla lilies green, perform a soil test by following the steps below outlined in the Youtube video below:

If your findings point to excess nitrogen, the first thing you should do is stop adding nitrogen fertilizers to your soil. Instead, add sawdust mulch to help bring down the nitrogen levels.

If you need to fertilize your soil, switch to compost with a good carbon-nitrogen balance. This will provide your plants with just enough nitrogen to survive without affecting their flowering.

Inadequate Light

Calla lilies need about six hours of sunlight daily and will turn green if they don’t get as much exposure. That amount of light exposure isn’t too hard to provide if you’re growing in a garden, but things can be a little different for those growing indoors.

If you’re growing indoors and haven’t been paying attention to how much your lilies are getting, inadequate sunlight is likely the culprit behind the flowers turning green. Luckily, the fix is as easy as moving the plants to a window or any other spot with access to sunlight.


Being perennials, calla lilies become dormant towards the onset of fall. At this point in their life cycle, any existing calla lilies blooms turn green and eventually brown.

This change is a result of the plant’s shift in focus from supporting flowering to preparing for the next bloom. The flowers essentially channel most of their resources to their leaves, which are actively synthesizing energy and sending it to the rhizomes to be stored for the blooming season ahead.

If this is the case with your flowers, there isn’t much you can do to stop the color change. The best you can do is prune off the now-green flowers to help the plants focus on preparing for the next bloom.

Is It Normal for Calla Lilies To Turn Green During Fall?

It’s normal for calla lilies to turn green come fall as the moisture is too much for the plants to withstand. The same applies when you plant calla lilies in cold, wet zones. For example, calla lilies grown in Hawaii and North Carolina may find the wet soil unfavorable.

Call lilies need moist and well-drained soil, as overly soggy soil may cause the rotting of rhizomes. So before planting the flowers, ensure you enrich the soil with plenty of organic material, such as compost manure.

Organic matter helps provide the best conditions for the flowers to grow and blossom by supplying nutrients and improving soil drainage.

Caring for Green Calla Lilies Based on Where They Are Planted

Calla lilies may require different care depending on where they are planted. Remember, different zones offer different weather conditions. Moreover, indoor plants often experience different conditions from those planted outside within the same zone.

Below is a discussion of why different calla lilies turn green and how you should care for them:

The Garden Calla Lily Perennials

Calla lilies grow as perennial plants and can be in the ground for a year. However, they are healthy when grown in average climates within the zone range. They may even remain green for the whole year, depending on winter temperatures and the sun.

Excess heat or cold can kill the rhizomes, preventing them from germinating further. To improve perennial growth, ensure that the soil is always evenly moist.

It will help the top 6 inches not to dry out completely. Provide calla lilies with adequate sunlight and some light afternoon shade to assist in the healthy production of leaves, which will fuel their tuber roots for ongoing growth for a whole year.

The Potted Calla Lily Plants

The potted calla lilies also grow as perennials, whether you plant them outdoors or indoors. Potted outdoor plants are prone to drought stress because of the direct sun, so ensure that the moisture in the pot is favorable for optimal growth. Ideally, water when the top 1/2 inch gets dry.

Low temperatures can kill the back top of outdoor potted calla lilies. Remember to keep the containers indoors during fall and place them in a sunny window.

On the other hand, the indoor potted plants may need to be watered occasionally, like every two or three days. The shade in the house slows down water absorption and evaporation, allowing the soil to stay moist longer.

Calla Lilies in Cold Climates

Other calla lilies might not survive in some areas with wet winter weather or low temperatures. Overly moist soil can result in the rotting of the roots, so the rhizomes may not survive winter conditions to regrow in spring.

However, you can treat the calla lilies as annuals and replace them annually if the weather is a huge concern. Alternatively, you can dig up the tuberous roots after the flowering period and keep them indoors during winter.

Let the seeds dry and remove the dead leaves. Store the calla lily rhizomes in a dry peat moss environment until ready for replanting in spring.

Lifting Garden Calla Lilies

Sometimes calla lily plants can wither and wilt. They may produce few flowers when the perennial rhizomes are crowded. Lifting garden calla lilies every 2 to 5 years or potted calla lilies yearly and dividing the rhizomes ensures they continue growing healthy as perennials.

Ensure you dig up the tuberous roots after the flowering season ends in the summer. Cut the calla lilies into 2- to 4-inch (5.08 to 10.16 cm) sections, each bunch having at least two buds on the upper branch of the root.

Then replant them immediately with the top of the roots 4 – 6 inches beneath the soil surface to aid healthy growth.

How Can You Tell if a Calla Lily Is Overwatered?

Calla lilies are easy to grow but need tender care to survive as they are equally delicate. If you notice drooping, you can be sure that the water is unfavorable, and the plant may wilt and die.

While calla lilies thrive in moist soil, excess watering can make the ground soggy resulting in the roots rotting, eventually killing the plant. Maintain the right amount of water for the plant to stay healthy and grow.

Other Issues Accompanying Green Calla Lilies

The calla lily plants are famous for their healthy cupped blooms and sword-shaped leaves. If the leaves look droopy and go limp, it is a sign that the plant is not healthy. The cause could be that the plant was given too much nitrogen fertilizer.

Calla lily leaves may also droop and sag if the soil is too soggy or dry. The problem can also be as simple as a larger bloom.

Of course, you want your plant to produce big flowers, so ensure that you provide the right amount of fertilizer, water, and sunlight for the plant to thrive and blossom.

5 Mixed Calla Lily Bulbs!

Final Thoughts

The calla lily is a florist’s favorite, and many people love it for various intimate functions. So why not take good care of them and ensure they blossom in your garden? One way to nurture calla lilies is by watering them to ensure they get proper color and good health. 

You should also give them enough fertilizer to provide adequate nutrients. Finally, expose them to enough sunlight considering the prevailing weather conditions.  Follow the above recommendations, and you will smile whenever you visit your garden or see them thriving in your house.

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