Calla Lily Watering: How Much Water Do Calla Lilies Need

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is a distinctive, long-blooming plant with impressive trumpet-shaped flowers atop sturdy green stems. This South African native, which can reach mature heights of 3 feet (1 m.), is considered a marginal aquatic plant, which means it grows in moist soil along riverbanks, ponds or streams, or around the edge of a water garden or rain garden.

While calla lily is a relatively low-maintenance plant, it won’t tolerate excessively dry conditions or soggy, poorly drained soil. Read on to learn about calla lily water requirements.

When to Water Calla Lilies

Calla lily watering may differ somewhat, depending on whether the plants are grown in the garden or containers. Your current growing conditions, like the amount of light or soil type, should be factored in as well.

How much water do calla lilies need in the garden? Water outdoor calla lilies regularly, providing sufficient water to keep the soil evenly moist. If the soil doesn’t drain well, add compost or other organic materials to improve growing conditions.

How to water calla lilies in pots? Similarly, potted calla lilies should be watered frequently to keep the potting mix evenly moist but not soggy. Use a well-drained potting mix; although calla lilies like moisture, they don’t do well in saturated, poorly drained soil. A soilless mix containing coarse materials such as pine bark mulch or sand provides proper drainage.

Remember that calla lilies in pots dry out much quicker than lilies planted in the ground.

Tips on Calla Lily Watering

Whether your calla lilies are in the ground or in pots, it’s important to avoid extremes in moisture. Keep the soil or potting mix evenly moist, as alternating between too dry and very wet may cause the tuber and roots to rot.

Reduce watering in late fall, when blooming stops and the leaves begin to turn yellow, to allow the plant to safely enter dormancy, Resume regular watering after a two- or three-month dormant period.

If the leaf tips of your calla lily are turning brown, you may be watering too much. Brown leaf tips are also a sign of excessive fertilizer.

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