Calla lilies are considered tender plants in Illinois. The funnel-shaped flowers borne on tall graceful stems are summer delights. Calla lilies grow from rhizomes which are more or less storage units for a plant. They should be moved indoors in Illinois before the first frost to avoid damage to the rhizome. If they are stored correctly they can be planted in spring for another burst of color. Calla lilies are long blooming, but when flowers are done, the foliage should be left to continue collecting energy to store in the rhizome for the following season.
- Moderately Easy
things you’ll need:
- Calla lily rhizomes
- Slug bait
- Garden shears
- Peat moss
- Paper bag or cardboard box
- Dig in 2 to 3 inches of compost in a a sunny planting bed to help add nutrients to the soil. Calla lilies bloom in mid to late summer, so planting needs to be done after the last frost to enjoy their huge blooms.
- Dig holes 18 to 24 inches apart and at least 1 inch deep. The rhizomes need to be placed in the holes horizontally and then covered with the rich soil. Calla lilies like a lot of water and can even be grown in boggy land. Water the rhizomes until the water puddles on the surface of the soil. Keep the soil moist to wet, which will require daily watering in very warm climates.
- Weed around the planted rhizomes to keep competitors away from tender sprouts. Slugs like calla lilies, so an application of a slug bait is recommended to keep the foliage attractive.
- Harvest flowers if you wish for indoor arrangements. Calla lilies flower for six to eight weeks and the cut blooms last for over a week in water. After the flowers are done, leave the foliage to feed the rhizomes for next year.
- Harvest the rhizomes in fall. Brush the dirt off them and lay them somewhere warm and dry for a day or two. Put peat moss in a bag or box and nestle the rhizomes inside. Cover with more peat and store them in a cool, dry place like a garage or basement. Temperature should be 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Plant out the rhizomes in April or after the last frost. You can preserve the rhizomes for years and the plant will make more of them for you to harvest. Only save and use rhizomes without spots or soft areas, as these are probably diseased and will not come up.