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Australian Grow Guide: Calla Lilies

In general, calla lilies grown in the garden require very little care. However, they do like to be kept watered and not allowed to remain dry for long periods.

Calla lilies are very easy to grow almost anywhere in Australia. In fact, in some areas, they grow so prolifically that some people regard them as a weed. But, if you’re looking for a virtually maintenance-free plant in both sunny and shaded areas, calla lilies are a great option.

In my current garden, the normal white calla lilies tend to come up in various places around the yard. I tend to remove those that want to grow in my veggie patch as this is the area that gets the most sun. However, these lilies also come up in the back garden which has lots of summer shade from a couple of large pear trees.

I’ve also acquired a few of the lovely yellow variety that has mottled leaves, and have a couple that have come up naturally with green blooms.

Yellow Calla Lilies | Plant care

What I particularly like about these plants is that the flowers last for a long time in a vase and even when I cut them back or they die down, I can rely on them to reappear the following year.

When to plant calla lilies in Australia

You can plant the tubers or rhizomes from late winter to spring so that you can have some blooms in summer. A well-established plant can produce up to 7 trumpet-shaped flowers per clump. 

How to plant calla lilies in Australia

Select a spot in your garden that has well-drained soil. This can be either in full sun or part shade. However, you’ll get the most blooms when the plant is grown in full sun.

Calla Lilies 1 | Plant care

You can purchase your calla lilies as rhizomes and this is the most economical way to acquire them. However, you should also be able to purchase them in pots at nurseries or garden centres. 

Better still, if you have a friend or neighbour who is growing these beauties in their garden, ask if you can dig up a couple of rhizomes from around the edge of an established clump.

Unlike other plants that grow from rhizomes such as bearded iris, calla lily tubers should be planted quite deep. In fact, they should be planted around 10 cm below the surface of the soil. The tubers should be planted with the rough side up.

To give your plants a good start, enrich the soil with some organic matter and/or animal manure. 

How to care for calla lilies

Calla Lilies | Plant care

In general, calla lilies grown in the garden require very little care. However, they do like to be kept watered and not allowed to remain dry for long periods. If there’s no rain, water your calla lilies at least once a week in summer because if they dry out too much, they’ll go dormant.

It is important to remember though, that the soil needs to drain freely, otherwise the rhizomes may rot. Generally, plants grown in the garden don’t require additional fertilisation if the soil has plenty of organic matter or compost added before planting.

You’ll also find that your calla lilies will multiply, so it’s a good idea to divide your clumps every few years. You can just dig up the clumps and divide them into individual rhizomes. Large rhizomes can also be cut into smaller sections as long as you ensure that there’s a growth bud on each section.

How to grow calla lilies in pots

Calla lilies are also perfect for growing in pots and this gives you the chance to bring them indoors for a short time when they’re in bloom.

Calla Lilies in pot | Plant care

Just ensure that you keep them well-watered as the soil in pots does tend to dry out quite quickly.

It’s also a good idea to feed your potted calla lilies with a slow-release fertiliser at least annually.

Calla lily pests and diseases

Fortunately, these plants rarely suffer from any pest invasions or diseases. However, you might find that slugs and snails will be attracted to the foliage.

If you find that this is a problem, you can use Multiguard snail and slug pellets which are both pet-safe and harmless to wildlife.

Calla lily varieties to grow

Black Diamond Calla Lily | Plant care

While you might be familiar with the normal white calla lilies, there are many attractive cultivars that you should consider growing. These come in a variety of different flower colours and will add some lovely colour to your summer garden.

Here are just a few of the more spectacular ones:

  • Calla ‘Florex Gold’ with lovely golden yellow trumpet flowers
  • Calla ‘Black Star’ with stunning black trumpet flowers
  • Calla Lily ‘Pink Jewel’ with iridescent pink trumpet flowers
  • Calla Lily ‘Picante’ with the most delightful orange and yellow trumpet flowers
  • Calla Lily ‘Rudolph’ with amazing trumpet flowers in shades of purple and maroon
  • Calla Lily ‘Odessa’ with slender black trumpet flowers

FAQ

When do calla lilies bloom?

Depending on where you live in Australia, calla lilies will usually bloom from spring through to summer. The plants go dormant in winter and the foliage will die down.

Do calla lilies come back every year?

Once you have calla lilies growing in your garden, they will continue to come up again in spring every year. In fact, they’ll often multiply and you’ll have more plants year after year.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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