What to Do with Calla Lily After Flowering: A Full Guide

by Jennifer

Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) are renowned for their elegant, trumpet-shaped flowers and lush, arrow-shaped foliage. These perennial beauties add a touch of sophistication to gardens, floral arrangements, and indoor spaces. However, once their striking blooms fade, many gardeners are uncertain about what steps to take next. Proper post-flowering care is crucial to ensure the continued health and vitality of your calla lilies. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essential practices and techniques for caring for calla lilies after flowering, ensuring their longevity and ongoing beauty in your garden or home.


Understanding Calla Lily Growth Cycle

Before delving into post-flowering care, it’s essential to understand the growth cycle of calla lilies. Calla lilies typically bloom from late spring through summer, producing stunning flowers in an array of colors, including white, pink, yellow, orange, and red. After flowering, calla lilies enter a period of dormancy, during which they conserve energy and prepare for the next growing season. Proper care during this phase is critical for the plant’s health and future blooms.

1. Deadheading Faded Flowers

One of the first tasks after calla lilies have finished flowering is deadheading. Deadheading involves removing spent blooms from the plant, preventing them from setting seed and redirecting the plant’s energy into bulb development. To deadhead calla lilies, simply snip off the faded flowers with sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears. Be sure to cut the stem just above the point where it meets the main stalk. Regular deadheading encourages the plant to produce more flowers and prolongs the blooming period.

2. Allowing Foliage to Wither Naturally

After flowering, it’s common for calla lily foliage to begin yellowing and withering. While it may be tempting to remove the fading foliage immediately, it’s essential to allow it to wither naturally. During this time, the plant is absorbing nutrients from the leaves and storing them in the underground rhizome, which will fuel future growth and flowering. Removing the foliage prematurely can weaken the plant and diminish its ability to thrive in the next growing season.

3. Ceasing Watering and Fertilization

As calla lilies transition into dormancy after flowering, their water and nutrient requirements decrease significantly. At this stage, it’s essential to adjust your watering and fertilization practices accordingly. Gradually reduce watering frequency, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Similarly, cease fertilization during the dormancy period, as excessive nutrients can disrupt the plant’s natural cycle and inhibit dormancy.

4. Digging Up and Dividing Rhizomes (Optional)

Every few years, calla lilies may benefit from division to rejuvenate overcrowded clumps and encourage better flowering. Dividing rhizomes is typically done in late summer or early fall, after the foliage has withered completely. To divide calla lily rhizomes, carefully dig up the entire plant using a garden fork or shovel, taking care not to damage the rhizomes. Gently separate the rhizomes, ensuring that each division has several healthy growth points and roots attached. Replant the divisions in well-draining soil, spacing them at least 12 inches apart. Water the newly divided plants thoroughly to help them establish roots in their new location.

5. Storing Calla Lily Rhizomes Over Winter (Optional)

In regions where winters are cold and frosty, calla lily rhizomes may need to be lifted and stored indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures. This is particularly important for tender varieties that are not cold hardy. To store calla lily rhizomes over winter, wait until the foliage has completely withered after flowering. Carefully dig up the rhizomes, taking care not to damage them. Trim away any remaining foliage and excess soil, then allow the rhizomes to air dry for a few days in a cool, dry location. Once dry, place the rhizomes in a box or container filled with dry peat moss, vermiculite, or sand. Store the container in a cool, dark area where temperatures remain above freezing, such as a basement or garage. Check the rhizomes periodically during winter to ensure they remain firm and free from rot.

6. Replanting Calla Lilies in Spring

As winter fades and the risk of frost subsides, it’s time to replant calla lilies in the garden or containers. Choose a sunny or partially shaded location with well-draining soil for optimal growth. If stored indoors over winter, carefully inspect the rhizomes for signs of damage or rot before replanting. Plant the rhizomes 2 to 4 inches deep, spacing them 12 to 18 inches apart. Water the newly planted rhizomes thoroughly to settle the soil and encourage root establishment. Resume regular watering and fertilization as the plants resume active growth in spring.

7. Monitoring for Pests and Diseases

Throughout the growing season, it’s essential to monitor calla lilies for signs of pests and diseases. Common pests that may affect calla lilies include aphids, spider mites, and slugs, while diseases such as root rot and leaf spot can occur under conditions of excess moisture or poor air circulation. Promptly address any pest or disease issues to prevent them from spreading and causing further damage to the plants. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil can be effective against pests, while fungicides may be necessary to control fungal diseases.


Caring for calla lilies after flowering is essential for maintaining the health and vigor of these elegant plants. By following proper post-flowering practices, such as deadheading spent blooms, allowing foliage to wither naturally, and adjusting watering and fertilization, you can ensure that your calla lilies thrive year after year. Optional tasks, such as dividing rhizomes and storing them over winter, can further enhance the performance of these stunning perennials. With a little attention and care, your calla lilies will continue to grace your garden or home with their exquisite beauty season after season.


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