Calla lily question

gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)April 16, 2012

I've never bought one of these before, but a couple weeks ago I was at the nursery and was quite taken with the eye-catching bright pink blooms, so I bought one. It was doing great until this past week when our nighttime temps dipped down close to freezing. I brought it inside for a couple days. After the threat of freeze had passed, I put it back outside. Now the leaves are turning yellow.

I called the nursery to find out what the problem is, and they told me it's going dormant. They said the ones there in the nursery are doing the same thing. Dormant in April?!? Why would a warm weather plant be going dormant in April??

I am SO irritated that they were selling plants for $15 that would last a whopping 2 weeks. I thought it would be around all summer. What gives?

Can someone educate me on calla lilies?

I'm an experienced gardener, but I usually grow perennials, roses, and "everyday type" annuals. Last year I decided to try something different and splurged on a mandeville, which died before the summer was half over. And now this waste of money on a plant that lasted a lot shorter time than the mandeville did. I'm done spending money on exotic annuals!!


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Callas are neither a bulb or a lily but rather a rhzomatous perennial native to South Africa. They are are closely related to peace lilies and other members of the arum family.

There are a couple of species of hardier callas that will grow in ground in warmer zones but most callas and especially the colored ones are treated as summer flowering 'bulbs' like dahlias, etc. Ones that are purchased in bloom now have been greenhouse grown and forced into bloom early. And it is entirely possible that the plant could be entering dormancy as they do go into a dormant period once the flowering is over. Generally, if planted in late spring for a summer bloom as is the case with other summer flowering bulbs and bulb-like plants, that dormancy period would coincide with colder weather and our fall/winter seasons.

That being said, I'm not sure that dormancy is necessarily what's happening. Callas - greenhouse grown ones forced into early bloom - are going to be quite sensitive to cold temperatures. They are also very touchy about soil not let the soil dry out but it also can't be soaking wet.

I'd keep the plant indoors in bright, indirect light until all chance of frost is passed and nighttime termperatures remain above 50. Keep evenly moist. If the plant does go into full dormancy, you can store the bulbs and replant in fall for late spring/early summer blooms.

Here is a link that might be useful: callas indoors

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:01PM
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