It’s natural to feel the weight of distress settling in the pit of your stomach the first time you observe your calla lilies drooping. Why are my calla lilies drooping? The expectation was that the tall and bright blooms would retain that vibrant look all through the season. After all, cultivating and then watching the scaly bulbs blossom into a delightfully-coloured matured plant wasn’t difficult – so what could have gone wrong?
Unless forced, Calla lilies typically produce flowers in summer. Whether grown indoors or outdoors and no matter how much care and attention is paid to them, dropping or wilting can occur due to a variety of reasons. But it doesn’t mean you have to panic any time it happens.
In this article, we would look at all the likely reasons why Calla lilies droop and how to resolve or prevent it. Hopefully, by the end of the article, the question, ‘Why are my Calla lilies drooping?’ would simply be an observation and not a cry of helplessness.
Why are My Calla Lilies Drooping?
These native South African plants thrive in temperate or warm regions. Their ability to adapt to different growing conditions is quite impressive. They can thrive in partial shade or sunlight.
Many factors can account for the ornamental plant to droop or wilt. The issue can simply be due to watering problems or the presence of too much nitrogen in the soil. Other factors include temperature changes, diseases, pests, or even inadequate drainage.
We would discuss each of the causative factors and the solutions if there are any.
10 Reasons Your Calla Lilies are Dropping or Wilting
Calla lilies’ natural growth circle includes a period of dormancy. Generally, this occurs around fall or winter after blooming when the plants start wilting with the leaves drying.
If the plants are healthy without showing signs of being infected by root rot or other diseases, then it’s likely you don’t have to worry about them. This is a natural cycle that should pass given time and care.
Simply cut off leaves and blooms that look extremely distressed and keep the soil dry. The calla lilies’ healthy rhizomes would sprout again in spring.
Large, heavy flowers
Calla lilies stems can grow to between 24 – 35 inches high. At the best of times, the tender stems are not very robust and could find it challenging to support blooms that can reach 5 inches long.
The drooping plants are simply responding to the weight of the healthy large blooms. This isn’t a cause for concern especially if there is no sign of infection or if this isn’t the dormancy period.
Doing nothing and allowing them to hang low is an option. Leaving the foliage allows the plant to gather enough energy (stored in the bulbs) for next season’s blooms. Another course of action is to attach the lilies to a support to keep them upright.
Calla lilies grow best in soil that is moist and well-drained. One very likely reason for the drooping lilies is too much moisture or water in the soil. This can lead to decaying bulbs or rhizomes. This has to be avoided because once the rot sets in, the only solution is to discard them and start all over.
However, preventive measures can be taken before rots sets in. for this. If the soil feels too wet to touch, quit watering and only resume when the soil is dry again.
If you want to grow them in pots, a great idea is to use unglazed pots. These pots would facilitate the evaporation of excess moisture from the soil.
Inadequate drainage is closely linked to the over-watering when it comes to drooping calla lilies. If the growing medium, whether in pots or garden beds, is bogged down with drainage challenges, all the issues relating to over-watering would surface.
So, as well as using unglazed pots, the pots must have drainage holes for excess water to exit the soil. Also, the use of high-quality potting soil would be awesome.
If you are convinced that the potting soil isn’t of the desired quality, you could create a good potting mix at home. You’d find several tutorials online on how to create a high-quality potting mix that drains well using perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite.
Like most plants, inadequate water can lead to a host of problems in calla lilies including dropping. The drooping lilies combined with dry soil up to a depth of about 2 inches are a good indication that you need to water the soil. In most cases, simply giving the plants the correct amount of water would revive them.
But you can go deeper to investigate and understand the reasons the soil is dry. For instance, hot temperatures and low humidity are known to cause the drying up of soils. In this case, you need to water more often or move the plants (if they are in pots) to a shaded area.
Also, if the soil is too sandy or has a poor water-retention capacity, it’d lose water faster and dry up easily. A bit of research online should reveal the several ways you can amend sandy soil to make it more suitable for growing all types of plants including calla lilies.
Too much nitrogen
As well as requiring large quantities of water for growth, calla lilies also need lots of nutrients to grow healthy and bloom. But it’s also common to apply too much fertilizer that can be dangerous to the plants.
The nitrogen found in fertilizers is the most implicated nutrient. Excess of it can lead to too many leaves, too few blossoms, plant discoloration starting from the roots, and ultimately, plant weakness leading to drooping.
The simple fix is to avoid using fertilizers with high nitrogen content.
Calla lilies, especially those grown outdoors, are susceptible to attacks from plant pests. If after tackling other issues such as watering and fertilizer, the problem persists, you might have to consider the possibility of a pest problem.
Carefully observe the foliage and blooms for spots and streaks or indications of fungal growth and molds. The spots/streaks are signs that the plants have a pest or insects problem.
The most common calla lilies pests are aphids and thrips. They transmit the viruses that cause the streaks and spots. The best solution, if the signs are present, is to dispose of the plants and the soil.
Fungal and bacterial colonies
The obvious sign of calla lilies infection by fungal and bacterial colonies is plant rot. And the major symptom of plant rot is the drooping of foliage and blooms.
Blight, gray mold, and powdery mildew are examples of fungal growth that can infect the plants. The type of plant rot can vary from soft and pythium rots to crown (yellowing of leaves) or root rots depending on the causative plant pathogen.
If you are suspecting root rot for instance, carefully pull out the lilies from the soil and examine the roots. If they are healthy, the roots would be white and fibrous. On the other hand, unhealthy or decaying roots are black or dark brown and slimy. They also give off an unpleasant odor.
You can re-pot the plant if the root rot is not excessive or too widespread.
Like in the case of pests, the best solution is to immediately dispose of the infected plant. Also carefully inspect other calla lilies to ensure that the infection has not spread.
Sometimes, the issue is simply about the difference in temperatures between where the young lilies were bought and where they are transplanted.
Generally, most gardeners buy or get their young lilies from different planting zones (USDA Zones 6 – 9) and proceed to transplant them outdoors after blooming. The sudden transition can cause the leaves to droop.
This can be avoided by waiting for the night temperature to climb above 50°F. While waiting or before transplanting, keep the lilies in a shady area for a few days. This allows them to gradually get used to outdoor temperature and lighting.
Size of pot
For potted calla lily, the size of the pot could cause the condition. This is more apparent in plants that are forced to grow beyond the standard growing season. ‘Pot-bound’ lily is the term used to explain this situation.
Because they are being trained to grow beyond the regular growing window, the roots grow bigger than normal. However, the extensive root system might require more water than is possible to get in that pot. Most times, the fine roots of these pot-bound calla lilies cover the entire bottom and side of the soil when you carefully ease them out of the pot to inspect the roots.
You can simply repot the lily in a larger pot to resolve the problem. Another option is to plant it in the garden if the conditions are right.
When calla lilies droop, it is not always the case that things are dire for you or the plants. Sometimes, you don’t have to do anything drastic to perk them up again since this is a natural occurrence in their growth circle.
Most causative factors leading to drooping calla lilies are easily preventable or controlled. Simple solutions like watering the right way, improving soil drainage, and making sure you don’t give them too much fertilizer might be all that is required. But extreme measures like removing and discarding plants might be needed in the cases of drooping caused by bacteria, pests, and fungal growth.