Calla Lily 911: How To Save a Dying Calla Lily

Calla Lily 911_ How To Save a Dying Calla Lily

Native to South Africa, the calla lily grows in warm, temperate climates and is excellent as an indoor plant. They are typically easy to grow and will be happy to grow in partial shade or full sun. However, various problems can arise with calla lilies. Some issues pop up when they get under- or over-watered, causing them to droop. Other factors contributing to dying calla lilies may be a fungal rot disease, excess nitrogen, and other issues. Here, we explore various reasons for why your calla lily is dying as well as ways to fix it. 

Potential Issues With Your Calla Lily

Drooping Leaves

These plants are known for their cupped blooms and sword-shaped leaves. However, their leaves may drag and go limp if given too much nitrogen fertilizer. A calla lily’s leaves may also sag and droop if the soil is too wet or dry. The problem may even be as simple as the bloom being too large. You should, however, count yourself lucky if your plants produce big flowers.

Calla Lilies

Yellow Leaves

If you notice that your calla lily has yellow or browning leaves, the answer for it is likely in the soil. Leaves that turn yellow are related to problems within the plant’s roots and can happen for various reasons. A shortage of nutrients in the soil is usually the cause. This condition in plants is known as chlorosis. Some of these nutrients can include zinc, iron, nitrogen, and other trace elements. Your soil may be lacking these trace nutrients. If so, there may be something in the soil or roots preventing the absorption of them. Be sure to use organic, high-quality potting soil.

One other reason for a yellowing calla lily is due to root rot. Root rot occurs because calla lilies don’t like having their roots soaked in standing water. Having contact with too much moisture can cause the roots to rot and contract diseases. Drowning in water also withers the plant’s leaves. Be sure to water your calla lily when the soil feels dry and not before.

Fungal Issues

Wet and cool conditions can contribute to fungal spores forming on your calla lily. Once the warm weather arrives, these spores will bloom and spread, which will cause damage to your plants. Soft rot is common with calla lilies, which forms spores that attack the plant’s stems and bulb. When these parts become affected, they become pliable and mushy, giving the plant a drooping appearance. Calla lilies can also droop from Anthracnose. If you suspect fungal issues, the best solution is to replace its soil or start over with a more resistant calla lily.

Other Problems

Calla lily bulbs won’t tolerate freezing temperatures, and any form of frost can affect their blooms and leaves. During fall, cut down brown foliage and move the plant indoors for winter if you planted it outside. Store it in a room that’s dry and has a tolerable temperature. During spring, replant their bulbs when the temperatures reach at least 60 degrees F.

You can even plant them in pots inside your home and then transplant them later for a faster-blooming process. Thankfully, you can usually fix a drooping calla lily by controlling cultural conditions. To ensure they stay healthy, check on the bulbs and develop routine maintenance to get beautiful blooms every time.

Troubleshooting Your Calla Lily

Treating a Drooping Calla Lily

There are many ways to deal with drooping calla lilies. But usually, they only need a drink to perk back up in a day or two. Calla lilies grow from bulbs and need to be in an unglazed pot with drainage and well-drained soil. Doing this will allow excess moisture to escape. You can usually fix drooping calla lilies by taking away water from their soil.

Calla Lily Rescue

Treating Yellow Leaves on a Calla Lily

Fixing problems related to yellow leaves will involve dealing with the plant’s actual planting environment. One way to correct this condition is to transfer your calla lily to a pot with well-drained soil. Repot the rhizomes carefully and don’t over-water the plants when they’ve established their roots.

Excessive Rot and Watering

While calla lilies need moist soil, excessive watering will create a soggy growing medium and lead to rotting roots. It’s best to find the right balance between wet and moist when it comes to growing your calla lily. To determine if your plant needs watering, feel if the soil is moist. Water your potted calla lily thoroughly when the top inch of the soil feels dry. However, leave it be if it doesn’t need watering.

Inadequate or Poor Drainage

If your growing medium doesn’t drain properly or your pots don’t have drainage holes, it will lead to soggy soil. This extra-wet soil will increase the chances of getting root rot. To avoid this, use high-quality soil and a pot with drainage holes for your calla lily. If the container you’re using doesn’t have holes, you can often poke holes in the bottom.

You can create a potting mix using a mixture of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or pine bark for your plant. A good potting mix should be fluffy and light and should be composed of any of the materials above. You should also change your watering habits if you’re using potting soil that retains moisture.

Too Much Stagnant Water

Calla lilies often prefer pots that come with a saucer, which will catch excess water that drains outside the pot. However, keep in mind that water will only reabsorb into the soil if you don’t empty the saucer. This extra water will lead to root rot, so consistently eliminate water from the saucer after watering your calla lily.

How to Save a Calla Lily

Preventing Root Rot in a Calla Lily

You can carefully remove the calla lily from the pot to see if the roots are healthy or rotting. You’ll be able to tell by looking at the roots. White, fibrous roots signal a healthy plant. On the other hand, slimy, brown, or black roots that give off an unpleasant odor means it’s rotting. If it hasn’t rotted excessively, you can still save the plant by repotting it. Ensure that its new pot has improved drainage, a quality growing medium, and reduced watering. Be sure to keep track of how much you water it and avoid watering whenever possible to prevent root rot.

Calla Lily 911 – The Wrap-up

Because calla lilies hail from Africa, they can adapt well in warmer areas. And while they’re relatively easy to grow, calla lilies still need TLC to survive. If your calla lily droops, you can bet that it’s overwatered, underwatered, getting too much fertilizer, or suffering from rot.

FAQs for Rescuing a Calla Lily

Giving your calla lily fertilizer with too much nitrogen can cause its leaves to droop and sag. While fertilizer encourages growth, mixing it with soil that’s too dry or wet isn’t a good combination. Doing so results in leaves that are too heavy, making them droop.

If your plant has yellow leaves, check its soil. This condition is most likely to start from the roots and may stem from chlorosis. This term refers to the shortage of nutrients in the soil you’re using. Make sure to use a quality soil mix that contains zinc, iron, nitrogen, and other trace elements.

Cool and wet conditions can be the beginning of the formation of fungal spores. These can spread to other plants and cause damage during warmer months. These can affect various areas of the plant, including the bulb and the stems of the plant. Eventually, these parts can become soft and mushy, which makes the plant droop. It’s best to replace the soil or use a more resistant calla lily variant in this situation.

The calla lily will have to be carefully removed from the pot to determine the roots’ health. A white, fibrous root is a sign of health, while slimy, brown, and black roots signals rot. However, if the rot isn’t extensive, you can simply replant the calla lily to ensure it survives. Transfer it to a pot with a high-quality growing medium, good drainage, and less water.

Calla lilies won’t survive in cold temperatures, and just a slight frost can stunt the leaves’ and blooms’ growth. When fall comes, if you’ve planted calla lilies outside, get rid of any brown foliage and move them indoors for the winter. When spring comes, you can replant their bulbs on days when the temperature reaches 60 degrees F.


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