• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Upcoming events in Middle Tennessee

     

    Save the Date: Perennial Plant Society’s 30th Plant Sale is April 4, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new Expo 3 Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Here’s where you can find the newest varieties of perennials, shrubs, vines and annuals from local growers, along with long-time, never-fail favorites, ready for spring planting. Learn more at the PPS website.

     

  • Categories

  • Archives

Moving calla lilies

Question: We live near Crossville, Tenn. and will be moving soon. What is the earliest I can dig up my callas? They have survived well the past three winters without being dug up but they probably need to be separated anyway.

calla-lilyAssuming that your callas are the type that die to the ground each winter and reappear the following spring, the rhizomes can be dug up anytime in the fall and stored for winter.

Callas are native to South Africa, so there is always the chance that the tubers may not survive extremely cold winter in the ground. But most gardeners I talk to in Middle Tennessee (Zone 7a, home of The Garden Bench) say they never dig up the rhizomes, and they come back each year. In Zone 6b (The USDA Hardiness Zone for Crossville), their survival seems a little less certain, but if yours have continued to grow and spread, then they must be in a friendly environment.

Here’s the recommendation for winter storage from the Gardening Know How website: To dig the rhizomes for storage, lift the clump out of the soil and allow them dry for two or three days, brush off the remaining soil and store them in peat moss in a paper bag in a cool, dry location.

Replant them in their new home next spring, after the danger of frost. Callas appreciate slightly acid soil that drains well, and should be watered regularly while they are growing and in bloom. They grow in full sun or partial shade.

The graceful flower bracts of calla lilies, which open about mid-spring or early summer, are lovely and delicate, but don’t be fooled by this. Callas are sturdy plants, and I have seen them escape their bed and push up through the packed gravel of nearby garden paths.

Callas’ beauty can be fleeting

QUESTION: My calla lilies, which are supposed to be white, are blooming, but the blooms are green! Otherwise, the plants look healthy. In fact, I’ve noticed in the past that they form seed pods. Is something wrong with them?

Calla lilyCalla lilies are lovely flowers, and easy to grow in containers or in the ground. The most common varieties produce white, yellow or pink flowers. That flower is technically the spathe, which wraps around the spadix, where the actual flowers grow. When the spathe turns green, it’s going through its natural life cycle on the way to making seeds.

Susan Bryant at Lakeside Callas in Dandridge, Tenn., explained that the spathe turns darker as it matures, and the outside of the spathe begins to turn green and to close up, with seeds forming inside.

“It starts turning green and closing up after a few days,” she said. Heat and lack of moisture might cause it to close up sooner. If you don’t watch them every day, it’s possible to miss the blooms.

You can cut the flower stalk off after it blooms, which will help the bulb grow larger. The foliage stays green and adds texture and interest to perennial beds. If you allow the seed pods to remain, let the seeds ripen and plant them in a pot indoors to grow over the winter, then put the new bulbs in the garden next summer.  It will take two years for the new plants to bloom, Bryant said. The offpspring may be a different color from the parent.

Callas prefer moist, well-drained soil and grow well in full sun, but they tolerate a bit of shade. In colder climates, the bulbs may need to be dug up and stored over the winter and replanted in spring. Gardeners in Middle Tennessee generally find that bulbs survive the winter in the ground.