When can I transplant Calla Lily Plants?

Foxboro, MA

I saved my calla lily bulbs from last year in the basement over the winter. It must have been warmer than I thought down there because last week I found all of them had 1 inch sprouts. I've potted them and they're growing well. When can I transplant into my garden? Normal last frost date is May15th in this zone. Is that too early? Should I wait until June 1st or later?

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

My callas respond to light by sprouting. It's great keeping them year to year because you get more and more.

These are very forgiving bulbs, but the thing they don't forgive is cold. They are normally shipped in June, if my records are correct, although one year mine came in March. The earliest I have ever put them outside is May 22. I have always watched for the last frost date. Usually I put them outside in June.

The tricky part is that yours are in the ground (mine are always in pots). So you can't just move them back inside. I would wait until perhaps the second week of June, just to be careful.

I may be wrong, but if you want to keep them in dormancy longer, make sure they get no light. My basement has windows, and every spring they would start a little earlier than I liked. I have moved them to a darker spot, and all of them are still dormant. This is just an observation, but perhaps next year you can try it. It's helpful, because if they break dormancy really early and start to grow in other than pretty warm weather the leaves tend to flop.

Here they are on June 28. As you can see, they have a lot of growth, and if you look carefully, you can see a flower or two amongst the stems.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack

I always pot mine up and put them out mid May to the end of May. I also put mine into pots like Donna has mentioned. I have found the soil in the pots warms up long before the soil on the ground and as a result, I get a much longer bloom season. I have also had some that I planted into the ground send out leaves, but no flowers. If this happens, just lift them in the fall and overwinter.

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Foxboro, MA

Thanks Donna and Carolyn!

I got mainly foliage on these last year as well. In hindsight, I planted them in too little sun and really poor soil (sand). I was shocked at how many bulbs I got despite that. Hopefully they'll do better in their new home this year. :)

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