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Vermont Garden Journal: Grow Calla Lilies In Almost Any Location

Calla lilies are very adaptable and can be grown in containers, under trees, and in sun or shade.
David Gomez
Calla lilies are very adaptable and can be grown in containers, under trees, and in sun or shade.

As Katherine Hepburn once said, “the calla lilies are in bloom again...suitable to any occasion.” What's more, calla lilies are suitable to almost any location as well.

This southern beauty is well known for its attractive leaves and colorful flowers. Calla lilies are not hardy in Vermont, but if you can grow canna lilies and dahlias, you certainly can grow calla lilies. The best part about growing calla lilies is their adaptability. You can grow them in containers, under trees or in a full-sun or part-shade flower border.

Calla lily varieties come in a range of colors. Try the red ‘Flame,' purple ‘Picasso,' white ‘Florist’ and pink ‘Regal.' While the flowers only last a few weeks in mid-to-late summer, the foliage is attractive throughout the season. The dark green leaves often have white speckles which make them pop in the garden.

Plant the bulbs or rhizomes now that the ground has warmed in well-drained soil. Plant in groups of three, five or seven bulbs to create a full look. Water them well and fertilize monthly. Plant calla lilies near clumping perennials such as salvia, sedum and daylilies so they don't get overrun by spreaders. Calla lilies also make great cut flowers.

Perhaps the best way to grow calla lilies is in a container. The container warms up faster than the soil and you can match this subtropical bulb with other heat lovers such as lantana, verbena and geraniums.

Once flowering is over, allow the foliage to yellow naturally and die. Then dig the rhizomes as you would dahlias and store in a protected, cool, dark location for winter.

This week's tip: now is your last chance to spray beneficial nematodes to control Japanese beetle grubs before adult beetles emerge in a few weeks. Spray lawn areas where beetles like to feed and water in the nematodes well after applying. Nematodes parasitize grubs but don't harm other creatures.

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