Breeding Hybrid Calla Lilies
Calla lilies are tall, tubular flowers that bloom in pinks, purples, yellows, reds and white. These are not true lilies, but grow from perennial bulbs much like those common plants, and come back year after year with the right care. Calla lilies bloom in spring to summer, and are relatively easy to pollinate and "breed," if gardeners are careful and observant. Cross-pollinate callas to create hybrids by planting different varieties close together, or through hand pollination.
- Moderately Easy
things you’ll need:
- Quick-draining soil
- Organic compost
- Plant calla lilies in spring or fall, in areas that get full sun and quick drainage. Amend the soil in your flower bed to a depth of 6 inches with 1 inch of quick-draining soil and 2 inches of organic compost. This mixture gives the callas the drainage and nutrition they need to grow and bloom.
- Plant several varieties of calla lily bulbs in the same bed to encourage cross pollination and hybridization through natural means. Plant each bulbs at a depth equal to the bulb’s length, with the pointed end up, and give each bulb 6 inches of space. Pack soil over the bulbs and water each bulb with 4 to 6 inches of water to help it settle. Water the bulbs with 2 inches of water a week.
- Allow wind and insects to pollinate the callas when they bloom, or supplement natural pollination with hand pollination. Choose callas to breed, and collect pollen on a Q-tip from the first bloom. Rub the Q-tip gently over the flower’s stamens to gather pollen.
- Take the Q-tip to a bloom from a different plant and rub the end over the plant’s stigma — longest, thickest stalk — to transfer the pollen and fertilize the flower. Repeat this process with all the flowers to encourage variety and number of seeds.
- Gather calla seeds, or bulbs, when the flowers begin to droop. These seeds will be round pods and should be light green in color. Grow these seeds to grow your hybrid callas