Calla lilies in full bloom are some of the most beautiful plants to decorate a living space with, but how long do calla lilies last? The flowers are literally scentless making them the perfect flowers for people allergic to certain smells. Because of the graceful beauty and absence of smells, many gardeners grow them indoors to add a touch of elegant nature to the home.
If you are growing calla lilies for the first time, it’s not uncommon to ask how long the trumpet-like, stylish flowers are going to last or bloom. You simply love the idea of having them around in full bloom forever, right? Admittedly, ‘forever’ would be awesome if we live in an ideal horticultural world.
So how long do calla lilies last? That is what we’d be discussing in this article. The article also includes stuff you’d find useful like how to rebloom a ‘dead’ calla lily and things you should do/avoid if you want to enjoy your lilies for as long as possible.
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How Long Do Calla Lilies Last?
Calla lilies are perennials. This point goes right to the heart of the matter when talking about how long calla lilies last. Most folks treat the flowers like annuals though. They dispose of them after spring decorations when they no longer bloom.
Viewing it from the perspective of an annual plant, Calla lilies bloom for a maximum of eight weeks. In the best-case scenario, they start blooming about 3 weeks after planting in springtime. With that timescale in mind, expect the flowers to continue blooming until early fall.
That said, there is a marked difference between how long garden calla lilies last and how long potted calla lilies last especially if they are grown indoors. You can actually keep growing them all year long in pots as opposed to the garden-grown callas that must go into dormancy when winter sets in. But dormancy doesn’t have to mean the end for them.
But certain conditions have to be met for this to happen. Keep reading to find out what they are.
Growing Garden Potted Calla Lilies in Winter
We have already established that calla lilies are perennials which makes it possible to keep them all year round. However, the growing conditions have to be right for this to happen.
A critical factor, if not the most important one, is your plant hardiness zone. If you live in zones 8 – 10, expect the lilies to be winter hardy. With the proper care and if all other growing conditions are right, zone 7 can also be included. But, if you live in a colder zone, taking the plants indoors is mandatory if you want them to last all year long.
For colder areas, the recommended proactive measure is to take the potted lilies outdoors in the summer. And then relocate back in just before winter or the first frost.
If the calla lily is in the garden, the best course of action is to dig up the plant in early winter, stop watering and let it dry till the leaves turn brown.
Next, remove the dried-up leaves and store the bulb or rhizome in dry soil making sure the temperature hovers around 60 – 70°F. The following spring, you can replant the bulb in normal garden soil and water it normally to get back your calla lily.
Now that you’ve grasped the fundamentals of how to make calla lilies grow all year, how do you get them to rebloom when they stop flowering?
How to Make Potted Calla Lilies Rebloom
Come the first signs of frost, Calla lilies, whether potted or in the garden, generally stop blooming. To ensure that they rebloom from the same bulbs, they would need a dormant period. And you can easily provide the ideal dormancy.
The first thing is to let the plants dry up by not watering them anymore when they stop blooming. With the lack of water, the leaves and flowers dry up, then die, and finally, fall to the ground. But remember, since they are perennials, the plant only appears dead.
The next step is to store the pot containing the bulb in a dark place for about two months watering it sparingly once a week to keep the bulb from drying completely.
Finally, after the two months, take it out into the sunshine. Start watering routinely always keeping the soil moist. All things being equal, the plant would produce leaves again and in a few weeks start producing flowers again.
One common problem when keeping calla lilies all year round is that they begin to decline after a while. The production of fewer flowers is a clear indication of this problem. This is usually a result of what is known as ‘crowded rhizomes.’ The fix for this is pretty straightforward.
Every couple of years, or when you start noticing the decline, divide the rhizome into about four sections before prepping it for winter storage. Preferably, store the four new rhizomes in separate pots in a dark room and proceed with the usual winter storage routine described above.
In the next growing season, the plants would be healthier and you would have more of them too.
Extending Calla Lily Bloom
In practice, you can extend how long the calla lilies bloom a bit longer. The trick is basically about proper plant management towards the end of fall. There are different ways you can do this, which is basically a good thing because that gives you the option of picking which one works best for you. Fortunately, most of what you have to do won’t take you off your comfort zone in terms of taking care of calla lilies.
The first step is to be relentlessly in ensuring the soil is never completely dry. Water consistently while being careful not to overwater the soil.
Then, consider revitalizing the soil with nutrients. One great idea is to spray the soil with liquid fertilizer if you don’t have nutrient-rich compost. Keep doing this until calla lilies inevitably wilt or die deep into winter.
Another thing you could do to make your calla lilies last longer is to mulch the soil. The mulching frequency should be at least once a year in the fall.
And the perfect much for this? it would be hard to top decayed garden compost. This shouldn’t cost much if you don’t have a compost dump and it is easy to apply.
Finally, and very crucial too, you need to cut the fading blooms’ stems especially when the leaves are still healthy. Known as deadheading a flower, this is an ‘eye-for-the-future’ proactive measure that allows the fading plant to use its remaining resources to store up energy in the rhizome. This energy is needed when it is time to rebloom the calla lilies the following spring.
Important Reasons Calla Lilies Might Fail to Bloom or Rebloom
Excess soil nitrogen
– This causes the plant to grow rapidly producing too many leaves and neglecting flower production.
Excessive soil nitrogen is often caused by fertilizer. Switching to a fertilizer with less nitrogen but more phosphorus can fix the issue.
– Lack of enough water (allowing the soil to become dry for prolonged periods) leads to stunted growth, wilting, yelling of leaves, and absence of flowers. Simply provide adequate water to the plants to prevent this from happening.
Too much water, on the other hand, easily leads to root rot, especially in potted calla lilies. This situation can be remedied by ensuring that moist soil (perfect!) is not confused with drenched soil (bad!) when watering. Providing good drainage too is vital in preventing over-watering.
The plants are unlikely to bloom if they are located in partial or full shade.
If they are garden calla lilies, you’d have to transplant them to an area they can receive enough sunlight. For potted calla lilies, simply move to the pots where the plants can get more light.