Digging up Calla Lily Bulbs: The Basics

Winter is swooping in, and the temperature is plummeting! It’s that time of the year to embark on the exciting mission of digging up Calla Lily bulbs before the freeze takes its toll. 

If your winter means freeze, snow and cold, your outdoor Calla Lily would certainly need intervention
If your winter means freeze, snow and cold, your outdoor Calla Lily would certainly need intervention

But wait, how do you tackle this bulb-rescue operation? Are there any essential tips to ensure success? 

Fear not, because this post is your ultimate guide to the thrilling world of digging up Calla Lily bulbs for the winter! Let’s dive into the frosty adventure together!

Why Digging?

Maintaining your Calla Lily through the cold involves digging up the bulbs from the soil and store them
Maintaining your Calla Lily through the cold involves digging up the bulbs from the soil and store them

As winter sets in and your outdoor Calla Lily faces the cold, it’s a good idea to think about protecting its bulbs.

Since this plant isn’t naturally equipped for chilly weather, considering bulb storage is a smart move.

This ensures that the rhizomes can enter dormancy adequately

Of course, if you’re in USDA hardiness zone 8 or higher, those areas are like a cozy winter home for Calla Lilies, and you can let them enjoy the season with some mulching work and no watering.

Yet, be cautious not to mulch too close to the base of the plants. Maintain a small gap around the stems to ward off potential rot.

This task is only required for outdoor Calla Lily in USDA hardiness zone 7 or under
This task is only required for outdoor Calla Lily in USDA hardiness zone 7 or under

Winter is not the only reason you might need to dig Calla Lily bulbs up for storing.

If their flowering vigor diminishes, it may be necessary to work up the rhizomes and cure them. This provides a period for their strength to be rejuvenated.

But as I said this post is about digging up Calla Lily bulbs for the winter, I’ll leave other situations to a different post.

Digging Up Calla Lily Bulbs: When

While in certain regions such as zone 7, calla lilies can endure winter with added protection, it’s prudent to exercise caution and consider digging them up.

The optimal time for this task is immediately after the first frost has killed the foliage (usually, it is in late fall).

This timing guarantees that the plants have accumulated sufficient nutrients for winter survival. 

How to Dig Up Calla Lily Bulbs (Step-by-Step)

Step 1: Dig Up the Rhizomes

Begin by carefully digging up the calla lily rhizomes from the soil. Use a garden fork to carefully lift the bulbs from the soil, being cautious not to damage them.

Step 2: Clean Off Excess Dirt

Gently brush off any remaining dirt from the dug-up calla lilies. Use either your hands or a brush.

Avoid Washing

Don’t let the rhizomes touch any water whatsoever, wetness can trigger rot.

Step 3: Inspect for Disease

While digging up, closely examine the rhizomes for signs of disease or rot. Discard any damaged or unhealthy rhizomes to prevent it from spreading.

Step 4: Trim Foliage

Give your calla lilies a little trim by snipping off the foliage, leaving about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of the dead leaves.

Grab some clean and sharp pruning shears for this job—they’ll make a nice, clean cut at an angle and help keep the risk of rot at bay. 

Step 5: Drying Process (Curing)

Let those rhizomes kick back and relax in a warm, dry spot for four to seven days with temperature ranging from 65 to 75°F.

This cool downtime is their version of a spa day—it toughens up their outer skin, giving them that extra boost for a successful winter survival.

Step 6: Ensure Ventilation

Make sure the spot where your rhizomes are chilling out during their curing time is well-ventilated.

We want to keep things fresh and breezy to steer clear of any mold or mildew mischief. If, by chance, you spot any fungal guests, no worries—treat those rhizomes to a bit of fungicide TLC.

Step 7: Storage Preparation

After your rhizomes have enjoyed their drying session, tuck them into a cozy paper bag or wrap them up in newspaper.

Now, it’s time to find their winter retreat—a cool, consistently dry spot, ideally around 50°F (10°C). 

Step 8: Maintain Air Circulation

Select a spot with excellent air circulation to keep moisture at bay and steer clear of any rot-related drama.

Be a vigilant rhizome caretaker by giving your stored treasures a regular once-over. 

Step 9: Winter Monitoring

As winter unfolds, give your stored rhizomes a friendly check-up every now and then. Keep an eye out for any sprouting or signs of decay.

If you spot trouble, don’t hesitate—take swift action by snipping away damaged bits and applying a touch of fungicide.

Again, No Watering!

Give those resting rhizomes a winter break from watering—they’re in dormancy and don’t crave any extra moisture.

Too much wetness might stir up trouble, potentially leading to rot. So, let them enjoy their dry spell and keep things cozy without the splash.

Replant in Spring

When the soil has warmed up, and the threat of frost has bid its farewell, it’s time to reintroduce your plant to the great outdoors.

  • Important Note: Always exercise caution and follow these steps to ensure the health and vitality of your calla lily rhizomes during the winter months.

Related articles: How to Care For Outdoor Lily Plants: Easy Guide for Beginner

Final Thoughts

Your Calla Lily will be ready to go return to its garden when the last frost is over and the soil has warmed up
Your Calla Lily will be ready to go return to its garden when the last frost is over and the soil has warmed up

Proper care during the winter months is crucial for the longevity of your calla lilies.

Following these essential winter care tips will ensure these enchanting flowers continue to grace your garden year after year.

“And this is my poem on the beauty of calla lily:

In springtime’s gentle breath, the calla’s grace,

A lily fair, bedecked in pure embrace.

Its petals, ivory veils unfurl,

In gardens blessed, an ethereal swirl.

With slender stems that bow in sweet repose,

They dance in zephyrs, where soft winds compose.

Nature’s canvas, a portrait so divine,

In calla’s bloom, eternal beauty shines.”