Calla Lilies - advice needed!

Hi! I received a gift of some beautiful Calla Lilies last year. My aunt told me that since they had been forced to flower, they wouldn't come back again and so when they died she took them home to compost them. But she noticed the beginnings of new growth and so put them into a pot and returned them to me when they began to show shoots a few weeks ago. I'm a bit concerned that the pot she put them in is too small though. Is it too late to repot when they're shooting like this? And do they even need to be? Any input appreciated on this! I live on the west coast of Ireland, with a south-east facing balcony which only gets morning sun. I take the lilies in at night as it's still quite cold here. Thanks for any help!

Thumbnail by RuthScales
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)


Your callas will be much happier if each one has a bit more space.

For the future, calls go dormant at the end of the season - just withhold water. They will come back year after year. Mine sense the light outside and start to grow. You can either leave them in their pots indoors or pull up the individual bulbs. I have some that stayed in the same pots for years.

You are right to take them in, because they would freeze and die.

Take the pot that you have the callas in and gently tip it to remove them. Or get a large spoon or something comparable, put it at the edge of the pot and pry them out. Wet them if it helps. Repot them in good soil with more room, in multiple pots, and give them water and a mild fertilizer. Within weeks they will begin to grow for you.

Please write back if this is in any way unclear.

Thanks for the reply. That all seems pretty clear, thanks a million. I won't get a chance to pick up more pots for a few days so I'll get straight on to it then. How many bulbs would you guess are in there? If I divide into three pots would that be sufficient? Thanks again!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Judging by the stems, I would have put them in three pots, so that's perfect. And they will be just fine for that few days.

I'm very happy to help. Enjoy them - they are wonderful plants.


I actually have a couple more questions, if you don't mind. How deep should I pot them? And can you be more specific about what you mean by a mild fertilizer? I don't normally use fertilizer, as I'm fairly new to all of this, so I don't know where to start with that. Sorry for pestering you!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

You are NOT pestering me! Forgive me, I should have provided you with better information automatically. You are not asking any questions I did not have as a new calla momma.

Callas are pretty forgiving, but you will get the best results if you do the following, which is pretty easy.

First you will, of course, moisten your potting mix. It should be moist, but not soggy.

Fill your pots two thirds full of the mix.

Set your plants (they grow from rhizomes, by the way) at the same depth they are now in their pots. If they were bare rhizomes rather than plants, you would set them in top of this mix with pointed end up. Then finish up with the remaining mix, again, keeping them at the same depth that they are in the pots now.

Since growth has started, put the pots in a sunny window (preferably one that faces south). Calla Lilies thrive in wet, even soggy, potting mix. They will actually grow in ponds. To maintain a constant supply of moisture, keep the saucer filled with water. I have noticed if not watered regularly, they will fail to bloom. My guess is that you will blooms in about two months. In summer, if you like (I used to do this) move the plant outdoors to a spot in full sun. You can, if you like, repot once or twice during the growing season (but I never did this). Bring indoors before frost. To be safe - 40 degrees.

Calla Lilies grown in a container can be left in the container over winter. Bring the container indoors in fall and withhold water completely until you want to start growth again in spring. This is what I do. You will find that you end up with more bulbs every year.

Use a balanced fertilizer 14-14-14 or 20-20-20 once a month until they bloom - then you can stop. They like acid soil, so if you like, toss some coffee grounds into your pots.

OK - that's what I should have written from the beginning! Again, please feel free to write again.

Best wishes,


Wow, that's so helpful. Thanks so much! I do actually have a follow up again, where I live is a bit limited in terms of places to buy fertilizer (and, honestly, I'm not sure what you mean by 20-20-20 or 14-14-14). I'd prefer organic, if that's possible, so would something like this be suitable:
And if not, what sort of thing should I be looking at instead? (Now I've really shown my true gardening-rookie credentials!)
Thanks a million!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

No, this is a great follow-up!

I use liquid seaweed all the time! Yours will be fine, but something a little more complete might be good.

I like Neptune's Harvest. Here is a blurb on an organic website:

Neptune's Harvest Organic Seaweed Plant Food, 32-Ounce
This is a nice seaweed product from a company that's been around for awhile. Their Organic Kelp Meal is also good. Seaweed is full of natural plant growth hormones and over 70 minerals that improve plant health. Kelp is one of the best organic fertilizer options.

I also love Espoma, which makes organic products for roses, acidic plants, bulbs, you name it:

Just remember that the milder the fertilizer (much better than too strong) the more often you can apply it, and the more often you may need to apply it.

Keep asking these great questions!


This message was edited Feb 9, 2015 10:38 AM

Thanks for yet another thoroughly helpful message. Should be able to do this tomorrow, I'll let you know how I get on!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Please do! I would love to hear.


Thunder Bay Ontario, ON(Zone 3a)

Reading this thread and smiling :-)

While at a greenhouse last week, I happened upon a gorgeous pot of Lavender/purple/yellow Callas .. I fell in love .. and, since they were 20% off .. I couldn't resist .. I asked if I could leave them in the container and was told 'yes' .. since then, I have had a few people query me as to why I haven't planted them in my perennial bed ..
They seem to be doing ok in the container .. I plan to take bulbs in the fall and bring them in and then, next spring re plant them ..

Have a couple of pics, and would love to hear your opinion :-)

Thanks so much


Thumbnail by MarilynneS Thumbnail by MarilynneS
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Well, I have grown them in containers for many years. At the end of the season I simply stop watering them and put them in the basement with as little light as possible. In April or May I expose the pots to light. They react by breaking dormancy. I then repot them with fresh soil, fertilizer and water.

This year I am putting some of them outside. They really like a lot of water and we have had tons of rain. They have broken dormancy. I am putting the balance in pots.

The trick is to bring them in before it gets too cold.

You can do exactly as you are planning!

Thunder Bay Ontario, ON(Zone 3a)

Awesome Donna, thank you so much ..
The plants are so beautiful I don't want to screw up and end up with nadda!

I have hand watered it since I got it as this area of Canada has had NO rain in over 2 weeks.

Again, thanks so much


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