Growing Calla Lily Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

A bouquet of calla lilies
Image: KaL-Photography / Shutterstock

Calla lilies are known for their stunning beauty and elegant trumpet-shaped stems. While most people propagate these flowers using bulbs, you can actually grow calla lilies from seeds. In this article, we will guide you through the process and provide you with all the information you need to successfully grow calla lilies from seeds.

Where to Get Calla Lily Seeds

If you don’t have an existing calla lily plant and want to grow calla lilies from seeds, you can purchase seed pods from reputable catalogs, nurseries, or other growers. Alternatively, if you already have a calla lily, you can collect a mature seed pod from a spent flower. Each seed pod contains at least one or two seeds. Remember to leave the seed pod attached to the plant until it’s ready to be harvested.

Closeup of calla lily
Image: Manuel Torres Garcia / Unsplash

Planting Calla Lily Seeds

Growing calla lily seedlings from seeds requires time, patience, and understanding. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Prepare the seeds: Spread the calla lily seeds on a damp paper towel and lightly cover them. Keep the paper towel in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Check the seeds every few days for growth.

  2. Plant the seedlings: Once the seedlings start to grow, plant them in soil, discarding any seeds that haven’t sprouted. Choose pots with drainage holes and fill them with well-draining soil. Plant two seeds per pot, not too far under the soil, and keep the soil moist until the calla lily seeds begin to sprout. After a few weeks, when the seedlings have grown a bit, you can separate the two seedlings or remove the smaller one to promote stronger growth.

If you prefer to plant the viable seeds directly outdoors, consider factors like your area’s climate and whether you’re willing to overwinter the calla lilies. Keep in mind that calla lily seeds harvested in the fall should be planted in the following spring to ensure successful growth.

Field of calla lilies
Image: Uninterrupted Nature Photography / Unsplash

Caring for Your Growing Calla Lily Sprouts

Caring for calla lily seedlings requires a different approach than caring for fully grown plants. After planting them, fill the drip tray of your pots with about an inch of water, wait for an hour, and then drain the excess water once the soil feels moist. After the initial watering, only water the seedlings when the surface of the soil is dry.

The growing seedlings should be kept in an area that receives around six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. If you don’t have enough natural light, you can use artificial grow lights to supplement it. In drier environments, you can also cover the pot with a clear plastic bag before the seedlings start to sprout. This will help retain moisture and humidity. Remember to remove the plastic bag as soon as the seedlings start to grow.

Orange calla lily
Image: Ilona Frey / Unsplash

Transplanting Your Calla Lilies

When transplanting your calla lilies to a new pot or outdoors, wait until the seedlings have at least their second set of “true leaves” (the leaves that can perform photosynthesis). Then, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right pot: Transplant the seedlings into a 6-inch deep pot with good drainage. Plant them at the same depth they were growing in the first pot. Use a potting mix formulated for azaleas or another well-draining mix.

  2. Planting outdoors: If you’re moving the seedlings outside, wait until early summer to do so. Plant them at the same depth in the ground as they were growing in the pots. Ensure the location receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Calla lilies planted outdoors require around one to two inches of water per week.

Hand touching calla bloom
Image: Lachlan Ross / Pexels

Are Calla Lilies Toxic?

It’s important to note that calla lilies are toxic to humans and pets, especially dogs and cats. When handling the plant, wear gloves to protect your hands, and wash them thoroughly afterward. Avoid contact between the sap and your mouth or eyes. Additionally, plant your flowers in an area that is out of reach for kids and pets.

Deep orange calla lilies
Image: Ashley Levinson / Unsplash

The Best Place to Grow Calla Lilies Outdoors

Calla lilies thrive best when planted outdoors in zones 8 through 10, where the rhizomes (underground stems) can survive during the off-season and sprout again. However, in colder zones, treat calla lilies as annual flowers. If you’re willing to overwinter your calla lilies, dig up the rhizomes after the growing season but before the first frost of fall. Prune the leaves, leaving about an inch of the stem. Keep the rhizomes in a dry, warm location for the first three days, and then place them in a box with damp peat moss for the rest of the winter. Replant the calla lily rhizomes, 4 inches deep, following the last spring frost.

Follow these steps, and soon enough, you’ll be growing calla lilies from seeds. Don’t worry if the first batch doesn’t work out perfectly—there’s always a learning curve when it comes to growing plants from seeds, and not all seeds will be viable. With time and patience, your hard work will pay off with a beautiful calla lily plant.