Calla Lilies


Last year the calla lilies which I wintered over, sprouted early, grew very tall and leggy and when I planted them, did not bloom. This year they have begun to sprout(Feb) and I wondered if there is a way to slow down the growth. They sprout even though they have been in the dark. Please help.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

The Calla Lilly, Zantedeschia aethiopica, originally comes from tropical marshes. It is not winter hardy. The bulb, which is actually a rhizome (underground stem) must be dug up in fall and stored appropriately over winter. Here is the recommended process:

  • Dig up the bulb, ideally after the first frost kills off the foliage.
  • Brush off any attached dirt, but do not wash.
  • Cut off the dead foliage about 5-8 cm above the bulb.
  • Cure the bulb by storing in a warm, dry place for four to seven days.
  • Place bulbs in a paper bag or wrap in newspaper.
  • Store bulbs over winter in a cool, dry place, around 10 C.

If you follow this process, your calla bulbs are less likely to sprout early.

Calla lilies are high maintenance plants. To thrive and flower, they need particular care.

  • The bulb needs to be planted in a well drained area to avoid rot.
  • Adequate hydration is critical for flower development. In our climate, this means monitoring hydration, and watering the plant very regularly. Remember this is a marsh plant.
  • Too much nitrogen will encourage leaf growth, but not flowers. If your bulbs are near a lawn, grass fertilizer which is very high in nitrogen, may have landed near your plants.
  • Calla lilies need full sun or partial shade to thrive and flower.

From the description of your plants, I suspect they need to be planted in a sunnier location in order to flower.

Here are some links with additional information on growing calla lilies. Good luck.