The Ultimate Guide to Growing and Caring for Calla Lilies and Arum Lilies

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Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) and Arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) are admired for their exquisite flowers and versatile garden uses. This comprehensive guide covers everything from planting and caring for these lilies to understanding their bloom cycle, ensuring that your lilies thrive and bloom beautifully.

Planting Calla and Arum Lilies

Soil Preparation

To ensure the best growth, Calla and Arum lilies need well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Aim for a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Incorporating compost or well-rotted manure can improve soil fertility and structure, providing essential nutrients and moisture retention.

Planting Depth and Spacing

Plant the bulbs about 5-10 cm deep and space them 30-40 cm apart. Proper spacing allows for good air circulation and reduces the risk of disease, while adequate depth helps the bulbs establish strong root systems.

Optimal Growing Conditions

These lilies prefer a temperature range of 18-24°C during the day and 16-18°C at night. They thrive in full sun to partial shade, but in hotter climates, some afternoon shade can prevent foliage from scorching.

Care and Maintenance


Consistent moisture is crucial for Calla and Arum lilies. Keep the soil moist but avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses ensures that water reaches the roots effectively without wetting the foliage.


During the growing season, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer every few weeks. Switch to a high-potassium fertilizer during the flowering phase to support bloom longevity and enhance flower quality.

Pest and Disease Management

Common pests include aphids, thrips, and spider mites. Regularly inspect plants and use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control infestations. To prevent fungal diseases, ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering.

Winter Care

In-Ground Plants

In colder climates, mulch heavily around the base of the plants to protect the rhizomes from frost.

Potted Plants

For potted lilies, bring them indoors before the first frost. Store in a cool, dry place with minimal watering to keep the bulbs dormant until spring.

Bloom Cycle of Calla and Arum Lilies


During the winter months, Calla and Arum lilies enter a dormancy period. Reduce watering and keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place.


In early spring, as temperatures rise, the bulbs will start to sprout new shoots. Increase watering gradually to support new growth.

Vegetative Growth

From mid to late spring, the plants will grow leaves and stems rapidly. Regular watering and balanced fertilization are essential during this stage.

Bud Formation

In late spring, the plants will begin forming flower buds. Switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer to support bud development.


The blooming period typically occurs from late spring to early summer. Maintain consistent watering and deadhead spent blooms to encourage further flowering.


After blooming, the plants will prepare for dormancy. Gradually reduce watering and allow the foliage to die back naturally.

Advanced Cultivation Techniques

Rhizome Division

Divide rhizomes in late winter or early spring. Cut them into sections, each with at least one growing point, and plant immediately in prepared soil.

Seed Propagation

Soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Sow in a well-draining seed-starting mix and maintain a temperature of 21-24°C for optimal germination.

Scientific Insights into Cultivation

Temperature and Light

Research indicates that Calla lilies thrive at temperatures between 18-24°C with adequate light. Moderate to high light levels promote healthy growth and blooming.

Soil and Nutrient Management

Well-draining soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH is recommended. Balanced fertilization tailored to growth stages improves plant health and flower production.

Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponic cultivation can result in faster growth and higher yields. Ensure proper nutrient solutions and pH levels for hydroponic systems.

Genetic Insights

Selective breeding for disease resistance and enhanced bloom characteristics is ongoing. Understanding genetic traits can help in developing superior Calla lily varieties.


By following these comprehensive cultivation techniques, gardeners can ensure their Calla and Arum lilies thrive, providing beautiful blooms season after season. Whether through traditional soil methods or advanced hydroponic systems, these practices will help maximize growth, health, and aesthetic appeal. Regular care, proper environmental management, and attention to detail are key to successful cultivation.

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