Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is a plant native to tropical climates that, of course, loves hot climates with high humidity. It is characterized by its beautiful flowers that, depending on the species, can have different colors (white, red, yellow, pink, purple, orange, green, black or even bicolor). Personally I find it very similar to the anthurium plant, which we already talked about in this blog. As you can imagine, we will dedicate this article to talk about the use of the best fertilizer for calla lilies.
Stay until the end as we will see how and when to use fertilizers, the proper dose, the best homemade and liquid fertilizers, among other things. Keep in mind that all the advice that we will give here is general, there are many factors that can vary any fertilization plan. For example, species of calla lily, climate, soil characteristics, etc.
Table of Contents
1. What nutrients does a calla lily need?
Before you start talking about fertilizing your calla lilies, you first need to understand what their nutritional requirements are. It is important to know what each nutrient contributes to your plant, so you will understand why the need to apply each one of them.
Next we are going to list the main nutrients that a fertilizer for calla lilies should contain:
1.1 Nitrogen (N)
Nitrogen is a crucial nutrient for calla lilies, greatly aiding the growth of their lush foliage. This nutrient is responsible for stimulating the production of chlorophyll, a pigment that gives the leaves an intense green color and that helps in photosynthesis.
Optimum levels of nitrogen in the soil will allow your calla lilies to develop healthy and strong. Something very important in vigorous growing plants like this case.
1.2 Phosphorus (P)
This second nutrient is essential to promote both healthy root development and abundant flowering. It participates in energy transfer processes, being essential in the early stages of plant growth.
Maintaining adequate levels of phosphorus helps a healthy root system, something that will allow it to absorb water and nutrients effectively. You will notice that any fertilizer intended to enhance the flowering of a plant contains high levels of phosphorus.
1.3 Potassium (K)
Potassium is another of the essential nutrients for the development of calla lilies. It helps regulate multiple physiological processes, being key in maintaining water balance. This will help improve disease resistance, increase plant vigor, and improve flowering.
A deficiency of potassium in the soil will make your water lily much more vulnerable to plants and disease. Causing a general weakening of the plant and a low floral production.
1.4 Secondary nutrients
The three nutrients mentioned above are known as primary nutrients. But in addition to the primary ones, callas also require secondary nutrients such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S).
Your calla lily will need these secondary nutrients in relatively small amounts compared to nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. In any case, they are equally important for the healthy growth of plants. For example, calcium helps in the formation of the cell wall. While magnesium is an essential component of chlorophyll and sulfur is crucial for the production of amino acids.
Finishing with this analysis of necessary nutrients for the cultivation of calla lilies, we cannot forget the micronutrients. Among which we can mention iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo) and others.
Although they are required in trace amounts, even compared to secondary nutrients, they play vital roles in various biochemical processes within the plant. Deficiencies in any of these micronutrients will have negative effects on the growth and overall health of water lilies.
2. What are the NPK values of a fertilizer?
If you ever had to go buy a fertilizer in a nursery and you don’t have much experience, you may have been confused when choosing between one package or another. Perhaps the only notable variation that existed between one package and another was three numbers separated by a hyphen.
If you didn’t ask the seller what exactly those three numbers are, you may still have doubts. Well it’s your lucky day, here we will answer that question.
The three numbers in a fertilizer package are what are known as NPK values, and each letter represents one of the three most important micronutrients for plant development.
- N: represents nitrogen, which is the most important nutrient for leaf development, and is also the main chemical involved in photosynthesis.
- P: represents phosphorus, being responsible for the development of roots, stems, flowers and fruits in a more vigorous plant.
- K: this last letter represents potassium, nutrient responsible for giving more strength to the plant. Contributing to a better initial growth, giving greater resistance to diseases, reducing possible stress and improving the quality of the fruits.
So these NPK numbers represent the percentage of the total of each nutrient. Explaining in one example, in a 1 kg fertilizer package of a 10-5-15 mix, 10% is nitrogen (i.e. 100 g of the total), 5% is occupied by phosphorus (50 g) and the 15% potassium (150 g)
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
As you may have noticed, it is a fairly simple concept. With this already learned, we can continue with our article on calla lilies.
3. Best fertilizer for calla lilies
As a general rule we can say that callas (Zantedeschia spp.) thrive with the application of balanced fertilizers that meet their specific nutrient requirements. It is essential to select the right fertilizers since otherwise the fertilization could be inefficient or even harmful.
In this section, we’ll explore the different types of fertilizers suitable for callas, including homemade options and liquid fertilizers.
3.1 Calla lily fertilizer type
Within the wide family of fertilizers you can find a great diversity. However, for calla lilies, I recommend using one of these three types of fertilizer:
- Slow Release Fertilizers: These are fertilizers designed to provide nutrients consistently over a long period of time. They can be found in different formats such as granular or spikes, and can be valid for months. They have the advantage of reducing the number of applications required. One or two per season may be enough. For calla lilies you should look for balanced fertilizers like 10-10-10 or 14-14-14.
- Liquid fertilizers: these fertilizers have a much more immediate action than the previous ones. Ideal for giving a quick boost in early spring, favoring a good development of foliage and flowers. You can find ready-to-use liquid fertilizers or powdered or crystal fertilizers that need to be dissolved in water before applying. Again, it’s good to apply balanced fertilizers, or just before flowering, apply one with a higher phosphorous content (eg 10-20-10).
- Organic fertilizers: although commercial fertilizers give faster and more noticeable results than any organic fertilizer, the latter are a much more natural and sustainable option. Among the most recommended organic fertilizers are compost, fish emulsion, bone meal or seaweed-based fertilizers. These enrich the soil, improve its structure and promote long-term soil health.
The ideal is to carry out a mixed fertilization plan. Taking advantage of and benefiting from the advantages of the three types of fertilizers. We will discuss this further in later sections.
3.2 Homemade fertilizer for calla lilies
If you want to reduce your reliance on commercial fertilizers, you can create homemade fertilizers for calla lilies using readily available ingredients. Next we will see four simple recipes so that you can prepare very good homemade fertilizers.
3.2.1 Banana Peel Tea Fertilizer
- 2-3 ripe banana peels
- 1 gallon of water
- Pick 2-3 ripe banana peels and cut them into small pieces.
- Place the banana peels in a gallon size container.
- Fill the container with water and cover it with a lid.
- Let the mixture rest for approximately 24-48 hours.
- After the soaking period, remove the banana peels and strain the liquid into another container.
- Dilute the banana peel tea by mixing 1 part of the tea with 3 parts of water.
- Use the diluted fertilizer to water your calla lilies every two weeks during the growing season.
Banana peels are rich in potassium, phosphorous, and other essential nutrients that promote healthy plant growth and flowering. This makes it a great choice when looking for natural fertilizers for a calla lily.
3.2.2 Epsom Salt Fertilizer Spray
- 1 tablespoon Epsom salt
- 1 gallon of water
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in 1 gallon of water.
- Stir the mixture well until the Epsom salt is completely dissolved.
- Pour the Epsom salt solution into a spray bottle.
- Spray the foliage of your calla lilies with Epsom salt spray once a month during the growing season.
Epsom salt is a rich source of magnesium, which aids in the production of chlorophyll and improves nutrient uptake in plants. This homemade fertilizer can help improve the overall health and vigor of your calla lilies.
3.2.3 Eggshell Calcium Supplement
- Crushed eggshells (from 4-5 eggs)
- Mortar and pestle or coffee grinder
- Scoop up and rinse the eggshells well to remove any debris.
- Let the eggshells dry completely.
- Crush the dried eggshells with a mortar or coffee grinder into a fine powder.
- Sprinkle the crushed eggshells around the base of the water lilies, avoiding direct contact with the leaves.
- Gently work the eggshell powder into the soil with a small garden tool.
- Repeat this process once a month to provide your gannets with a steady supply of calcium.
Eggshells are one of the best sources of calcium. This nutrient is important for strengthening cell walls and the general structure of the plant. By adding this homemade calcium supplement, you can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote healthy growth in your water lilies.
3.2.4 Compost Tea Fertilizer
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 cup well aged compost
- Fill a container with 1 gallon of water.
- Add 1 cup of well-aged compost to the water.
- Stir the mix well to incorporate the compost.
- Allow the compost to soak in the water for 24 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally.
- After the soak period, strain the liquid into another container, removing any solid particles.
- Dilute the compost tea by mixing 1 part of the tea with 3 parts of water.
- Use the diluted compost tea to water your calla lilies every two weeks during the growing season.
Compost is my favorite homemade fertilizer. Both for its large amount of nutrients and its ability to use organic waste from our home. When it comes to indoor plants like a calla lily, I prefer to prepare a tea with the compost because it makes it easier for me to apply it in the pot. By applying this fertilizer you will help boost its growth, strengthen its roots and increase its resistance to pests and diseases.
3.3 Liquid fertilizer for calla lilies
Liquid fertilizers are an efficient way to deliver nutrients directly to water lilies. Both for the ease of application and for the immediacy in which the nutrients are available to the plant.
Below I am going to list three liquid fertilizers that are very good for these plants. Of course, these are in addition to other liquid fertilizers we already mentioned, like compost tea.
- Balanced Liquid Fertilizer: There are thousands of liquid fertilizers for flowering plants commercially available. Sometimes, among so many varieties, someone may end up choosing one that doesn’t do well for calla lilies. What to look for is a balanced subscription, that is, with the three NPK numbers being the same (eg 10-10-10). Always follow the instructions on the package when applying it, although the dose is better to place a slightly lower dose than that recommended by the manufacturer.
- Fish emulsion: it is an organic fertilizer that could well be on my list of home fertilizers. Do not place it because it can smell quite bad preparing this fertilizer at home. Dilute this fertilizer according to package directions, then apply along with watering.
- Seaweed Extract: This fertilizer is very rich in micronutrients and growth promoting hormones. It is good to apply it both to the soil and in the form of foliar spray. As always, I recommend that you read the instructions for use carefully before applying it.
4. When to fertilize calla lilies
As with virtually all plants, timing with fertilization is key to ensuring fertilization success. It may provide the nutrients in the exact amounts needed, but if you apply them at the wrong time, the results will not be optimal. In this section, we’ll discuss the optimal times to fertilize calla lilies, taking into account their specific growth patterns and seasonal requirements.
- Pre-sowing fertilization: this is the first moment in which it will be necessary to fertilize. It is about preparing the soil properly, providing the necessary nutrients to help the proper development of the bulbs or rhizomes of calla lilies. It is an ideal time to incorporate organic matter and balanced fertilizers (eg 10-10-10).
- Early spring fertilization: in places with quite marked winters, where the cold affects the calla lilies, these plants will only begin to activate in the first days of spring. This is an ideal time to make fertilizer applications, giving it a boost for strong growth. Balanced slow-release fertilizers or liquid fertilizers can be applied, always following a well-defined fertilization plan.
- During Active Growth: The most active growth stages for calla lilies are in late spring and early summer. It is important that these days have all the necessary nutrients to develop. That is why to support this growth and flowering potential, continue fertilizing them during this period. It is an ideal time to apply fertilizers rich in phosphorus to improve flowering.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
It is important to note that as the growing season progresses and call lilies near the end of their bloom cycle, it is advisable to gradually reduce or discontinue fertilization. In this way we help the plant to enter its inactive stage, preparing it for the growth of the following year. If you continue fertilizing you can promote the development of new shoots that can be affected by the first frosts.
5. How to fertilize calla lilies
Coming to the end of the article, we have already learned a lot about fertilizing these beautiful flowering plants. But we have to collect all that information and turn it into a fertilization process to specifically learn how to fertilize gannets.
Next I will give you a fertilization plan, for greater utility I have separated the analysis between indoor and outdoor coves.
5.1 Indoor Calla Lily Fertilizer
As you can imagine, indoor calla lilies have slightly different needs compared to outdoor ones. This is due to the limited availability of natural nutrients in the potting soil.
1- Initial planting: in this type of plants it is essential to start fertilizing from the beginning of the plantation. The soil where you are going to plant these callas must be appropriate to have a satisfactory result. To do this do the following:
- Ideally, use a potting soil mix. This mixture must be rich in organic matter, and must also have good drainage capacity.
- Before planting is a good time to apply a slow release balanced fertilizer. In this way you make sure that the plant will be constantly receiving nutrients for several months.
2- Monthly fertilization: as we already said, callas are vigorous-growing plants, so they need a large amount of nutrients. This added to its exuberant flowering means that it needs large contributions of fertilizers. Therefore, it is good to make monthly applications during the growing season.
- For this fertilization you should look for a balanced liquid fertilizer. The proportions can be 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.
- Dilute the fertilizer to half the concentration recommended on the package. It’s better to go a little short on fertilizer than to go overboard. Then you will have time if you do not achieve the expected results by gradually increasing the dose.
- Apply the diluted fertilizer to the soil once a month during the growing season (spring and summer).
- Water the calla lilies well after each fertilization to ensure that the nutrients reach the roots.
3- Homemade Fertilizer: I personally like mixed fertilization plans. That’s why I leave you this option in case you also want to do it like me.
- To make use of homemade organic fertilizers, a commercial fertilizer can be replaced by a homemade one every two months. Like I said before, my favorite homemade fertilizer for callas is compost tea.
- Dilute the compost tea in water in a 1/3 ratio and apply it together with irrigation.
- Alternatively, you can also sprinkle crushed eggshells around the base of the plants to provide a calcium boost.
5.2 Outdoor calla lily fertilizer
Outdoor calla lilies have the advantage of benefiting from the natural nutrients present in the garden soil, but fertilizing will enhance their growth and flowering potential.
Let’s see a fertilization plan that combines commercial and homemade fertilizers:
1- Initial Fertilization: As with indoor callas, outdoor callas should be fertilized from the moment they are planted. So you must work the land correctly before planting them.
- Depending on the characteristics of the soil, it may be necessary to apply more or less fertilizers. If it is a soil rich in organic matter, you can even skip this initial fertilization. But if the soil is somewhat poor, it is essential to make a nutritional improvement of the soil.
- Apply a slow release balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or 20-20-20). If you want, instead of a commercial fertilizer, you can add some compost to the soil.
- It is important that after applying the fertilizer, you work the soil by turning it over, making sure to make a uniform mixture of soil and fertilizer.
- Once you have finished working the land, apply abundant watering.
2- Monthly Fertilization: with a good initial fertilization you can be almost sure that your plants will grow correctly. But if you want to give a quality leap in your plantation with a more abundant flowering, it is important to make some monthly fertilizations during the growing season.
- Use a liquid fertilizer in water balanced with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.
- As always we recommend diluting the fertilizer to half the recommended concentration.
- With the fertilizer already diluted, apply it to the base of your coves once a month. remember that this should be done in the spring and summer months. Never fertilize in fall and winter.
- Once the fertilizer has been applied, water the plants well after each fertilization so that the nutrients reach the root zone.
3- Homemade fertilizer: just like I did with indoor plants, I will recommend that you do a mixed fertilization plan.
- Every two months you can replace the commercial fertilizer with an organic fertilizer. If it’s homemade, much better. 😉
- For this case I will recommend that you use compost. Apply around the base of the plants, making sure not to come in direct contact with the stems or leaves.
- Don’t forget to work the compost gently into the soil surface and water the water lilies well afterwards.
Keep in mind that no fertilization plan is a law that must be followed to the letter. In tasks like these, trial and error comes into play a lot. It will be a matter of year after year you analyze the results and you can improve the process until you get the best results.
In case you have a garden that allows it, you can have different test batches. Where you apply different fertilization plans and so you can analyze which is the most appropriate, both for the specific species of cove you have and for the characteristics of the climate or soil.
- Cultivation guide for calla lilies – zaboplant.nl
- Calla lilies cultivars – ihbt.res.in
- The Secret T0 Great Calla Lilies – shell.cas.usf.edu