April 13, 2011

Repotting a giant Calla Lily

A large 14 inch giant clay pot had to be sacrificed, in order to repot a Calla Lily variety, which happens to be a tall growing strain from the Strybing Arboretum, in San Fransisco. Calla's are not hardy here in New England, so one must either winter the pots over in a cool cellar, a cold greenhouse ( as we did) or dig them up and allow them to become dormant, something this bulb plant doesn't like. Most Calla's available today are dwarf or small in stature, but this strain can grow 6 feet tall, if not taller, so I knew that I had to plant my plant in a large pot. Clearly, it was not large enough. So what can I do?
The inflorescence on this strain is very large, with some spathes measuring 11 inches across. It typically blooms in May for me, but this aggressive re potting event, may have damaged the inflorescences which are surely just beginning to form. The plant will still bloom this year, but most likely just a bit later. Once the giant rootball is repotted into a larger pot, it should fill that pot too. I thought about planting it in the ground of the greenhouse, but looking at the root system, I could only imagine how it might take off ( take over!), and digging out the plant in a few years would not be something that I would look forward to!

First, I had to destroy to pot, since the root mass was so dense with two years of growth, that it actually adhered to the sides of the pottery, so out came the sledge hammer, and Joe enjoyed smashing the pot. Now that it has been extracted, I need to decide whether I am going to slice and dice the mother plant up, or keep it intact, and pot it into a much larger container? One thing is for certain, this new container will be plastic, for this plant was the heaviest container in the greenhouse, due the the weight of the root ball, they hold a lot of water!


  1. Oh wow, that calla looks so healthy! Wow, you had to break the pot to remove it!

  2. Those are beautiful plants! But how do you handle them in the winter up in Massachusetts? I'm located in Pittsburgh and landscaping with calla lilies is pretty rare due to their frost susceptibility. Do you pull them out and store them somewhere or do you know of any other methods to protect them in the winter?

    -Rain Man

  3. WOW. Just bought one of these, i would love it if mine got this large. What is the trick to Calla lilies?

    Mine is the same variety but in yellow.

  4. These Calla's spend the winter in the cold greenhouse, but most anyone can winter them over. If you buy a 'bulb' at a nursery now, which is dormant, plant it and allow it to grow all summer.
    The trick is to allow it to get nipped-by-frost in the autumn, if you live in the north, or just cut off the foliage before a hard frost, and bring the entire pot into the cellar or a cold room where the bulb can remain in the soil, but do not water it. The roots remain intact and grow a little, even while rather dormant - just be careful with overwatering if you keep the plant in the dark. The following year, you will have a calla which is even larger.

    I think it's a mistake to dig-up calla's and to allow them to dry out each autumn, for this is unnatural.

  5. I grow mine year round in New York, all long as they have sun year long they will just keep growing. I never chill mine off, I was in Mexico 20 years ago and they grow there year round. Just think of it as a houseplant that needs sun.


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