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Why Won’t My Calla Lily Bloom?

Ask the Expert: Cally Lilly Blooms

We have a Cally Lilly plant in our garden ( live in Northern Virginia) it’s growing great however no flowers. What’s the secret to get it to flower. it’s in full sun and is watered regularly.




  1. George,

    There are a few things that can inhibit blooming.

    1. Fertilizer or nourishment. You need to fertilize (using a balanced fertilizer) your calla lilies as they start to emerge each year. But something that most people forget is that the bulb will store nourishment during the growing season for the next year. This nourishment is created by the leaves and stored in the bulbs. So it is important to leave the foliage alone until it turns completely yellow or dies from the cold. Removing the foliage prematurely can cause a nourishment deficiency in Calla lily bulb and can result in poor foliage or the lack of blooms the next year.

    2. Improper watering can also cause problems for the calla lily. Without the proper amount of water the Calla lily could have trouble producing a bloom. Calla lilies like moist but not soggy soil.

    3. Heavy clay soils can be a problem for calla lilies due to the drainage issues associated with clay. But more importantly is the depth in which the Calla lily bulbs are planted. Calla lilies should only be planted about 2″ deep. If they are planted too deep this could cause blooming problems.

    Is this the first year for the calla lily? If it is, there could be a couple possibilities as to why it isn’t blooming. If it was potted and from a greenhouse it could have been forced to bloom early . If it bloomed before you bought it, you won’t see blooms again until next year. The first year I plant new Calla lily bulbs it seems to take longer for them to bloom. My older calla lilies usually bloom a couple weeks before the new ones. So it make take a little longer for them to bloom.
    In fact I usually beautiful foliage way before I get blooms.

    Just a little side bar. Calla lilies are not actually a lily. It belongs to the Araceae family under the genus Zantedeschia. It makes a wonderful garden plant as well as a wonderful cut flower.
    The flower meaning for Calla Lily is Beauty. It is use as both accent flowers and focal flowers in flower arrangements. Calla lily flower arrangements make wonderful Father’s Day gifts.

    Calla Lily Bloom Image

  2. Judie Silvis says:

    I have a Calla Lily that was a potted gift last year. After it was done blooming I took it out of the soil and put in a brown bag in a cool place. This last March I replanted it in a pot since we live in Michigan and they can’t live through the winter outdoors. It is growing beautiful foliage, but it is now August and it hasn’t bloomed. I fertilize about once a month.

  3. I purchased what appeared to be a gorgeous canna lily from QVC several years ago– I planted the bulb indoors due to extreme Wi winters. The foliage is a beautiful green however I have never had any flowering activity– it has produced new bulbs that I have split so I know it’s in good health– what am I doing wrong?

  4. Sue,

    If you are keeping the plant in the house all of the time the bulbs are not receiving the right amount of light. Cannas need a minimum of 6 hours sun a day during the growing season. Without the right amount of light the plants will grow beautiful foliage just no blooms.

  5. Joe Bagley says:

    I have three Calla Lilies planted in a row. The one in the middle has not bloomed since I planted it in the garden two years ago. The ones on either side are blooming beautifully. I live in Zone 7 and do not dig up my Calla Lilies for the winter. Why is the middle on not blooming?

  6. Joe,
    To create a full, lush stand of Calla Lilies without overcrowding the plants, space them 12 to 18 inches apart in garden beds, ponds and planters. Calla lilies grow in full sun to part shade and require consistently damp or wet soil. This might be why your middle plant isn’t blooming. Hope this helps.

  7. Joe Bagley says:

    Thanks for the reply. They get plenty of water however they may be to close together. I will move the middle one later this fall after the foliage is gone.

  8. This is so strange, I had to read Joe’s message twice because it sounded as if I wrote it. I have the same problem. Middle lilly has not bloomed, great foliage. But, mine are planted almost 2′ apart, get great sun, good soil, good drainage. I was wondering if it has to do with depth of planting. That’s the only other variable I can think of.

  9. Sheryl,

    How interesting. Calla lilies should be planted rather deep, about 4-6 inches for the best results. If this the first year for the calla lily there could be a couple possibilities as to why it isn’t blooming. If it was potted and from a greenhouse it could have been forced to bloom early . If it bloomed before you bought it, you won’t see blooms again until next year. The first year I plant new Calla lily bulbs it seems to take longer for them to bloom. My older calla lilies usually bloom a couple weeks before the new ones. So it make take a little longer for them to bloom. In fact I usually see beautiful foliage way before I get blooms. It sounds like you are taking good care of your plants. Hope this helps.

  10. No, actually it’s the 2nd year in a row that the middle lilly has not bloomed. And you would think that I would have planted them all at the same depth. These are lilies I ordered from Breck’s. Well, I think I plan to dig them up in the Fall and will see how far I actually did plant them. I may replant them somewhere. We’ll see what they do next year. Thanks for your reply.

  11. My middle calla lily finally put on one bloom and now a second one has opened up. I plan on digging it up this fall and letting it rest and replant it in the spring.

  12. Joe,

    That’s great! I’m glad you are seeing some blooms. That sounds like a good plan.

  13. Barbara says:

    Last year I bought about a dozen calla lily bulbs. Planted them in pots and they bloomed beautifully. This year my husband planted them in the flower garden. Two bloomed the rest have beautiful foliage. What kind of fertilizer do they need?

  14. Barbara,

    In your flower garden general purpose fertilizers that contain equal amounts of all the major nutrients will work for calla lilies. These are called complete fertilizers and will be labeled with a ratio such as 10-10-10 or 8-8-8. Hope this helps.

  15. FAITH PONG says:

    I brought a pot of beautiful Calla Lily last year with over 25 blooms over the summer last year, since I ma in zone 5, I took the pot inside and find that there is two huge tuber/rhizome (size of id size plate) in the pot, so I put one in one pot and one into another pot of dried houseplant soil, and put them into the basement overwinter. Spring time came this year, it started having shots coming out, I put both of them out on the patio, lots of sun, water them well, lots of leaves, but not a single bloom, so disappointed, can someone be kind enough to help me with what I should do with them this year, i just took them back in a week ago when the weather is cold and the leaves are withering. Your advise will be much appreciated

  16. Faith,

    One factor that could be inhibiting blooms is the amount of sunlight the plants are receiving. Calla lilies need at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight or 10 hours of bright filtered light to bloom. If your plants are in a very shady spot you need to move them to a sunnier area. You might try fertilizing your calla lilies with a fertilizer high in phosphorous (p) the a couple of months before they bloom. Try hi-yield bulb food which has a 7-8-5 (n-p-k) ratio or bone meal (0-10-0). At the end of the season let the frost kill the foliage before you remove it. Hopefully these suggestions will help and you’ll have lots of blooms this season.

  17. Hi… I live in tropical area.. zone 11 or 12.. it is constantly hot in days and humid… i’ve bought a bulb of calla.. any tips for me to make them great.. ???thank you!! (Im starting to think of giving them soil chunks of big ice cube everyday… hehe)

  18. Witra,

    It would help to know what type of calla you have. Here is an article though that I use as a reference. It will give you information on when to plant, how deep to plant and general planting instructions. Hope this helps. Lily Care

  19. My pillow talk Lilly has come up and more beautiful each year. It always comes in before my yellow lilies. But my yellow ones are coming up but no sign of my beautiful pillow talk lillies. Any ideas why or what happened to my lillies?

  20. Aynsley Broom says:

    Hi Terri,
    There are different reasons why you lilies aren’t blooming. Most lilies will bloom during the summer or in the fall so it may be a little soon for them to bloom. There are also reasons that deal with whether or not they are planted in the garden or in a pot. If your lilies are planted in a pot then they are going to experience more problems then those that are planted in the garden. If they are planted in the garden, some of the problems they will face are going to be too much nitrogen from the fertilizer you use, too much water, or too much sun. However, if they are planted in a pot then what might be the issue is that they have not had a chance to rest. So you might want to give them a chance to stop blooming, and give them a resting period.

  21. Hi. Have grown calillies for years. This year they are blossoming early and hardly any foliage. Have a pink one in blossom but plant has three leaves and only 8″ tall. What’s up with this?

  22. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Cathy,
    You might try fertilizing your lilies.

  23. Eva Maggard says:

    I have a call a Lily in a container. I bought it this year. I am in zone 7 and it gets 7 or so hours of sun everyday. The leaves look great, and the plant Haas had 3 blooms on it for weeks, but the blooms have stayed curled up and won’t open. What can be wrong?
    Thank you.

  24. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Eva,
    There could be a couple of things keeping your calla lily from blooming. If it is the first year for your lily, this could be keeping it from blooming. If it was forced to bloom by wherever you purchased it, it probably won’t bloom until next year. Too much or too little water can keep it from blooming, as well as a lack of nutrients. Make sure you are watering properly and try giving your calla some fertilizer.

  25. Karen Haptonstall says:

    I have a Calla Lily I planted this spring bought it from Lowes it was beautiful several yellow blooms on it. I planted it outside still looks beautiful green foliage but all it has done is gotten what I thought was going to be a bloom but instead it is pods full of what appears to be seeds. It has 4 of these pods and they are just full of little round green balls that look like seeds. Never has bloomed since I planted it. What is this ? And what do I do to get it to bloom? I live in zone 5 Illinois

  26. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Karen,
    The pods you are seeing are seed pods. It is normal for these to show up after a Calla has bloomed. You can wait until these have matured and harvest the seeds and attempt to grow new plants. Your plant most likely will not bloom again for this season. It was likely forced to bloom early, and it may come back next year. Calla lilies are tropical plants so they like a warm, humid environment. Since you are in zone 5, you may want to look into bringing your plant indoors over the winter.

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