Complete Guide: How To Plant Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia)

Zantedeschia, often known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies, are popular exotic looking plants that are native to South Africa. They will bear narrow, lance or funnel shaped flowers in the most fantastic array of colours and are particularly effective when grown in groups within a border, or planted in pots and spread out on the patio.

They are particularly attractive when in flower, with dark green foliage (mottled on some varieties) and distinct colour flowers that can be solid or two toned.


There are many distinctions between the different varieties of Zantedeschia but one of the most noteworthy is that some are considered as ‘Hardy’ and some are considered ‘Tender’. In theory, with our climate in the UK, all the varieties would survive a mild-normal winter as even the ‘tender’ varieties are hardy to -12 degrees celsius.

Zantedeschia Aethiopica is truly hardy and will survive temperatures down to a chilly -25 degrees!  It can even be planted in baskets and submerged up to 30cm deep for planting in and around a pond or water feature, a marvellously versatile plant.

If you are worried about a particularly cold frost or live in a very exposed location you can always add some winter protection like mulch or lift the tubers and store them over winter in a dry, cool and dark environment.  They can then be replanted in spring.

The more tender Zantedeschia can be grown as a conservatory or house plant, as well as a patio plant. These tubers should be protected from the frost with deep winter mulch.

Some of our Favourites

Zantedeschia Cantor (Calla Lily)

A very popular variety for contemporary flower arrangements, exotic Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) Cantor boasts the deepest purple of any Calla, almost black. Gorgeous waxy spathes in deep aubergine-burgundy surround a matching spadix, giving a mysterious, unusual look. Height 60cm. Flowering May-October. Top size 16cm+ tubers supplied for exhibition quality flowers which last up to ten weeks.

Zantedeschia Lipstick (Calla Lily)

The Calla Lipstick presents gentle cream spadices, surrounded by contrasting vivid pink spathes which fade to spring green at the floral chamber; where the magnificent flower head is held up by succulent tube-like stems. Broad, wavy foliage in a spring green adorn the base. Exhibition quality 16cm+ tubers supplied. Flowers May to October. Height 60cm.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla Lily)

Hardy Zantedeschia aethiopica is a wonderful, well known outdoor flowering Calla Lily that is sometimes also known fondly as the White Arum Lily. This premium variety looks superb grown in groups within the flower bed and border, or equally as effective planted and grown on the patio in pots or containers. Supplied as 12cm+ tubers, they are great for naturalising and multiplying to offer larger displays as the years progress. Calla Lily aethiopica will produce gorgeous summer white flowers from late May through to June, coupled with waxy green foliage.

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How to Plant Callas

Planting Zantedeschia is an easy process – they like moist, well drained soil and not to be planted too deep (allow the tops of the tubers to be at ground level). Where possible plant them in a sunnier location as, being from native to Africa, they will really appreciate it.

Grow in humus rich soil, in full sun access. Plant the tubers shallow, so top of tubers are slightly exposed. Calla lilies can be cultivated indoors in loam based potting compost in full light. Water freely and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep just moist in winter.

One of the added bonuses of planting Calla Lilies in your garden or in patio pots are the absolutely stunning cut flowers they can produce. Each tuber will produce a number of stems as it flowers and this will increase as the tubers become established over the coming years. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise a friend / family member with a bunch of stunning flowers.

We recommend accompanying them with low-growing plants to provide filling foliage over the base areas and covering up those thin stems. Anything that provides fullness and has a shallow root system serves best as a Calla companion, such as New Guinea Impatiens, Astilbes or Hydrangeas.

Getting the most from your Tubers

Callas can be lifted after flowering so that you can store them throughout winter and plant again in spring. Simply dig them up at the end of their flowering time once they have died back, the best time for this is usually in autumn around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off soil and place the somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days, to allow them to really dry off. These can now be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.

Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can plant your Calla again and enjoy their beauty year after year!

12 thoughts on “Complete Guide: How To Plant Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia)”

  1. How do I stop lily beetles from mashing and stripping my lillies I pick them off but it could happen over night I go to bed and get up to find they are practically non existent

    1. Hi I grow various Lilly’s and those pesky red Beatles are a pain in the back side. Personally I squish them in my fingers (gloves on) but you can buy chemical sprays to kill them. Good luck

  2. I love these bulbs, they are truly amazing. Thank you for this lovely article which was really informative. I have several types of these callas in my garden and they are real show stoppers. I tend not to ‘lift’ the callas in the autumn, but simply put a good layer of mulch and so far, they have been OK.

  3. Can you please tell me how many flowers there would be from one canna lily bulb. Trying to gauge how many bulbs to purchase of selected types.

  4. I found the above details on the Calla lillies very useful.
    (I had some previously but only survived the first year. Must have been our neglect somehow???)
    Now that I have read the above I will certainly look favourably at purchasing some more and possibly look at the very hard variety
    to leave in the garden. They are beautiful. Maybe I will become
    a bit more ‘potty’ and grow more in pots and pop into the ground
    for a show and remove when finished.

    Very useful information.

  5. Complete Guide to planting Calla lilies.
    Your text advises planting the tubers shallow with the tops of the tubers even slightly exposed. Your video doesn’t mention this and appears to show the opposite.

  6. The hardiness of white callas
    When I moved house over 40 years ago this was one of the plants in the garden.
    Eight years ago that part of the garden was decked over and surrounded by raised beds. I thought no more about the plant but two years later the plant re-emerged from 2-3 feet of soil and has continued to bloom and flourish.

  7. i left my calla lilies covered with fleece in an unheated greenhouse this winter and they looked fine until a couple of weeks ago when some of the green leaves were turning limp and going brown. should i cut these leaves off? what do you recommend?

  8. Please can the Calla grow in Ghana?West African. I would like to grow some in my garden in Ghana can you advise.

  9. I would like to know if Calla lilies can survive in West Africa Ghana as it is a hot Country.

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