Woodland Shade Gardening

Woodland shade gardening with a purpose – pleasure, creativity, rainwater collection!

Calla Lilies – what do they really need?

I was crouched by the edge of a garden bed on the north side of my house, leaning in close to my calla lilies, whispering things like “Just tell me what you want.  You know I’ll do anything for you.  But you really need to talk to me.  If you don’t tell me what you need, then I don’t know what to do.”  I longed to know if the rhizomes were planted too deep, or too shallow.  Were the plants getting too much sun, or not enough?  Were the plants getting too much water, or not enough?  What pH would be perfect for these lovely plants I adore?

This happens every year, following a lush foliage display earlier in the season.  But no blossoms.

Each spring, following a lush foliage display but no blossoms, this is what happens to my calla lilies. Any expertise, from any of you who grow calla lilies well, will be greatly appreciated!

Oxalis among the calla lilies, going dormant - its usual state during the heat of summer.  It will flush out with greenery again when the temperatures dr

Oxalis plants among the calla lilies, going dormant – the natural state for Oxalis during the heat of summer. The oxalis will return when the cooler temperatures of fall return.

Diego Rivera painted calla lilies into many of his famous works of art.  Anyone who sees his paintings can’t help but want to grow this plant.

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Both paintings above, by Diego Rivera, are from http://www.diegorivera.org/

Katy & Emily came over to assist me, their tails wagging joyfully, wondering to whom I might be talking.  The plants didn’t answer my requests, and my little dogs didn’t verbalize any ideas of their own.  This definitely seemed like one of those times when only some research would help me.

Little Cinnamon Emily and Little Licorice Katy, getting ready to head for the Calla Lily garden bed

Little Cinnamon Emily and Little Licorice Katy, getting ready to head for the calla lily garden bed, to assist me.

I began my research by opening one of my long-time go-to sites at http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/768/, then moved along to the always helpful http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/, and of course I looked at the delightful, and informative site http://www.gardenguides.com/253-calla-lily-garden-basics-flower-bulb-zantedeschia.html, and lastly checked an information page on the mail-order site for http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/ – all of them being my favorite sources for information, photos, ideas and daydreaming.  Yes, the one special thing about being a gardener is how you don’t have to choose only ONE favorite – you can have as many as you want – whether it’s plants, colors, websites…  Favorites are like perennials – they just keep multiplying!

So, here is what I learned:  Calla lily rhizomes should be planted 4″ deep, horizontally, with their growing points facing up. Space them about 1′ apart.  4″ is deeper than the recommended planting depth for most other rhizomes.  Soil should be mildly acidic, loose, moist but well-drained, and rich in humus.  By the way, does anyone know of a plant that doesn’t appreciate a rich level of humus?  The rhizomes, and the plants, are poisonous, and handling them may cause allergic reactions and/or skin irritations.  I have never noticed either of these problems.

These calla lilies have been in place 3-4 years.  Some had been transplanted from another bed, and some had been potted.  The potted plants were a gift from my coworker, Helen, purchased from a clearance table at the grocer’s for about $1!  She is smart – and knows plants in glorious bloom sell well for plant-giving holidays, then customers think they die.  But, we gardeners know that they can be purchased for clearance prices, planted in good soil, and reward us many times in future seasons.

These produce well each year.  They were a gift from my friend, Helen, purchased from a clearance display at the grocer's, for about $1

These produce blossoms each year, and have lovely, lightly flecked foliage. They were a gift from my friend, Helen.

Which brings us back around to ‘What do my calla lilies need?’  I have decided to prepare an area to meet the specific needs of these rhizomes.  Then cut back the foliage, dig up the rhizomes, and transplant them.  It is not spring, as is mentioned as the perfect time for planting calla lilies, but I am willing to take the risk.  These seem like brave plants that will probably relish new and improved conditions.  I will move them to my patio perennials bed where they can receive much water, as they are said to need.  On gardenguides.com, it is stated the calla rhizomes can be planted in areas that are too moist for other rhizomes and bulbs.

Aha, I think I understand several problems with my current situation.  I will update you next spring, with pictures of happy callas in appropriate conditions, in full bloom!

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One comment on “Calla Lilies – what do they really need?

  1. Fair Sharpe
    August 28, 2015

    Will go immediately and look my azaleas!

    Like

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2015 by in My Woodland Garden and tagged , .
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