Calla Lily Seed Info: How To Grow A Calla Lily From Seed
By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Calla lilies, imported to American from South Africa, are an exotic addition to any garden and are easy to grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. These old world flowers also make excellent houseplants and bring interest and color to any room. In addition to division, one may ask, “Can I grow calla seed pods and, if so, where can I find info on how to grow a calla lily from seed?” Keep reading to find out.
Calla Lily Seed Info
Calla lilies are elegant flowers that have been around a very long time. These beautiful flowers grow from a rhizome and produce huge green leaves that are usually covered with lighter spots. Colorful flowers ranging from pale pink to deep purple and yellow appear atop trumpet-shaped stems. Eventually, the blooms wither, leaving a pod-like capsule filled with calla lily flower seeds.
One question that many gardeners have is, “Can I grow calla seed pods?” Although calla lilies are usually propagated by separating the bulbs, they can also be grown from seeds. Seeds can be purchased from catalogs or garden centers or acquired from mature seedpods on your existing plants. It is necessary to wait until the seedpods are thoroughly dry before removing them from the parent plant.
How to Grow a Calla Lily from Seed
Seed growing calla lilies requires a little work and some patience. It can take up to three years for a calla lily planted from seed to bloom. Calla lily seeds must be pre-grown in order to be successful.
Spread seeds out on a damp paper towel and cover them. Place the paper towel in a cool location, such as a basement or cellar. Check the seeds in a few days for growth. Discard any that do not show any signs of life.
Put a high-quality soilless medium in a well-draining pot and place the seeds that have started in the pots. It is best to plant two seeds per pot right underneath the soil. Keep the soil moist and watch for growth. After a week, you can remove any of the seeds that have not grown.
Watch the plants for another couple of weeks and remove the weakest shoot from each pot. This will give energy to the stronger sprout. Once the calla lily has grown a while, it can be transplanted into a larger pot or transplanted outside. Before transplanting, wash the plant roots to remove bacteria. Water the newly transplanted calla lily regularly until it becomes established.
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Read more about Calla Lilies
Caring for white calla lilies is different than caring for the more colorful hybrid calla lilies . White callas are semi-aquatic and their rhizomes thirst for watering holes, but their colorful cousins hail from higher ground and their tubers demand drainage.
Care Differences Between Calla Lily Types:
|Zantedeschia aethiopica ||Colorful Calla Lily Hybrids |
|Water||Keep the soil moist||Water when the soil is slightly dry|
|Zones||8-10||9 and warmer|
|Exposure||Full sun or partial shade||Bright, indirect light is ideal|
When to plant:
Any time between February and June (but after danger of frost is past) bury them 3 to 4 inches deep in porous soil directly in the garden or in containers.
Give them water when the soil is slightly dry (but don't overdose — the hybrid callas dislike soggy soil), and they're good to go.
Eight weeks after planting, flower stalks begin shooting up, and you'll be delighted by blossoms for the next couple of months.
Although Z. aethiopica has been known to soldier on in Zones 8-10, its colorful relatives are more comfortable in Zones 9 and warmer. Or treat them as tender perennials in colder climates.
Callas bask in anything from full sun to partial shade — bright, indirect light being ideal. Dense shade might put a damper on bud count, and scorching midday summer sun can prove equally challenging.
The color-soaked hybrids prefer a well-drained, porous soil. Sandy soils are simpatico if you add fertilizer clay soils can be tricky. Excessive nitrogen will encourage a bounty of leaves and long stems, squelching bud production. In a fertile soil, no further food is needed.
Before frost threatens in autumn or early winter, whisk them indoors to rest the tubers after their labors. If calla lilies are planted directly in beds, dig the tubers from the garden or store them in their pots in a dry 55ºF environment, withholding water for eight weeks or longer before jump-starting the cycle again with light and water.
Plant with dahlias and gladiolus for a cutting garden that will last until frost.
Calla lilies are dangerous to pets if any part of the plant is ingested. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.
Are calla lillies invasive?
Calla lillies can be invasive if conditions are right. Learn more: Where is this species invasive in the US?.
Why Grow Calla Lilies?
Gardeners are slipping callas, which originated in South Africa, into garden beds and containers for the following reasons:
- Calla lilies are easy to cultivate
- They offer a sensuous color range
- Callas blossom just eight weeks after planting
- Their arrow-shaped foliage is attractive
- They make captivating cut flowers
For more on how to plant bulbs:
Preparing the seeds
From the lot of seeds that you have, choose the best ones for planting the Calla Lily. You can do so by following the steps below:
- Put a damp paper or cloth towel upon a plate and spread out all seeds on it. Separate out seeds with visible signs of damage or rotting.
- Once done, move the seeds to a new damp paper or cloth towel and place in a dark, cool area. Keeping the wet condition for these seeds is very necessary (Towel should only be damp, not soaked in water, otherwise the seeds can rot).
- About two days later, you will see clear signs of growth on most of the seeds. You will keep well-grown seeds for planting and throw away the bad ones.
Planting the Calla liLy Seeds
If you choose to plant in the garden, of course you have to accept a lot of dangers from violation of birds and mice. The best way, you should plant it in a pot and keep at a safe place. If do that, the Calla Lilies will grow up strongly and healthy in peace. You can treat the sowing soil by yourself or buy it at the local garden shop for better condition. The best method is planting two seeds in each of pot, right under the surface stratum of soil. In fact, in this stage, the seeds are still maybe in danger of rotting.
Therefore, whie watering them, you have to lead it into the pot from bottom and the seeds will obsorb the water through soil little by little. However, if the top soil is too dry, use a fine mist squirt bottle to spray it slightly. Once the Calla Lilies show signs of growing, it is time to sort again, you need to throw away weak one immediately. As the result, the stronger shoot will bring for you the most beautiful Calla Lily flowers.
How to Grow Calla Lilies
Have you ever priced single Calla lilies at a florist? If you have, you will have discovered that they sell for $5-$9 a STEM. Why pay those kind of prices, when you can become your own florist – well sort of, anyway. Calla Lilies make wonderful indoor plants and comes in many colors, as well.
If you love to grow flowering houseplants, especially those with dramatic blooms, calla lilies are a great choice.
Calla lilies are easy to grow and produce gorgeous long stemmed flowers in a wide range of colors. They are a favorite with florists, particularly when white, because they are popular for weddings.
It’s hard to believe that something that grows from an ugly rhizome can produce such a gorgeous display!
To start, you will need a plant or a single rhizome. (See my article to help understand the differences between bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.) Good quality calla lily tubers can cost about $6 each.
So for the cost of a single flower at the florist, you can grow the tubers that will give you up to a dozen flowers.
Here are some growing tips to get the most out of you calla lily rhizome.
- Hardy in zones 8-10, (and possibly in 7 with a good layer of mulch over the top)
- Plant your callas in soil that gets fairly good drainage and is in full sun (hottest climates may need some partial shade in the hottest part of the day.)
- If your plant came in a pot, check to see if there is more than one rhizome in it. Many nurseries use smaller tubers and plant several to a pot. You can separate them and give them more room to grow or replant into several pots for a better display.
- Plant after all danger of frost has passed. They should be planted about 3 inches deep with the growing tip facing up.
- Callas like average to moist soil conditions but not soggy soil. Be sure not to let them be dry for too long.
- Calla lilies make great cut flowers so don’t be shy about cutting them. (that is the most popular reason for growing these beauties.)
- After blooming, don’t cut the foliage off. Like most bulbs, the leaves will continue to gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s display. You can remove the leaves when they turn yellow.
- In zones 8 and warmer you can leave your calla lilies in the ground year round. In zones 7 and colder, they will need to be dug up and store in peat moss for the winter, (like dahlias and other semi temperate rhizomes and tubers.)
Propagation of calla lilies can be done two ways – by rhizomes and by seeds. The easiest way is to divide the rhizomes making sure each has roots and eyes attached.
Calla lilies make great house plants. They need bright light and a pot that gives them room to grow. Hold off watering in the winter when the plant is dormant but you can leave the rhizomes in the pot.
Growing calla lilies from seed can be a challenge but it is possible. Each of the flowers has seeds that are made internally. When the flowering has finished, the flowers will close up to encase the seed pods.
Save the whole flower head and cut it off the plant before frost occurs.
Here is a great YouTube video showing how to use the seeds pods for new Calla Lilies. The man who made the video has many showing how to collect seeds from Calla Lilies.