Vermont Garden Journal: Calla Lilies As A Summer Annual In Vermont
“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower—suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.” Katherine Hepburn in the movie, "Stage Door," had one thing right about calla lilies - they are a versatile flower.
These flowering bulbs are a southern favorite overwintering in zones eight and warmer climates. But with all our hot weather this summer, I'm thinking they can grow well as an annual in Vermont, too. Normally, you'd plant the rhizome in spring after all danger of frost has passed – similar to planting gladiolus. But you can still find calla lily plants in garden centers and it's not too late to plant them as an accent for late summer and fall in the garden, a container or cutting garden.
Calla lilies grow one- to two-feet tall with speckled, dark green foliage. This makes them attractive even when they aren't flowering. The white, pink, yellow or red-colored, cup-shaped flowers appear in summer and last until cool weather comes. Plant calla lilies in the front of a garden, paired with flowers such as calibrochoa, lantana and creeping sedum in a full sun location. Calla lilies grow best in well-drained, fertile soil that's warm. So don't rush planting them in the spring. Enjoy the flowers in the garden or a container. They also make excellent cut flowers, often lasting up to two weeks in a vase. Deadhead regularly to keep the flowers coming.
Come fall, dig and store the rhizomes if you want to replant the same calla lilies next year. You can even bring potted calla lilies indoors to enjoy the flowers a little while longer in fall.
Now for this week's tip: water newly-planted trees and shrubs deeply, counting to 30 to be sure the water soaks at least six- to eight-inches deep into the soil. Mulch plants to preserve the soil moisture and protect the soil from eroding during thunderstorms.