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Calla lilies, while not considered real lilies, measure up to the beauty that the lily family is known for. Growing these beautiful flowers will enhance your space for many years as long as they are well tended to.
Among the ways of growing calla lilies apart from the division of the bulbs is using the seeds. Growing lilies through this process takes a while, but it is still worthwhile once the plant matures. If you are curious about growing lilies from seeds, read the tips below. Something to take into account though is that it’s a slow process and can take around 3 years before they flower once they have germinated.
Getting your hands on calla lily seeds is not hard. You can take seeds from a friend’s plant, purchase them online from specialist nurseries, or from your local garden centre or nursery. If you choose to get seeds from an existing plant, wait for the seeds and seed pods to mature before harvesting, they usually take a month or two and turn brown and become dry.
You can choose to sow the seeds outdoors in spring or start them indoors whenever you are ready.
Once you have the seeds, follow this procedure for starting the seeds indoors. Starting the seeds indoors provides a stable environment for the seeds to germinate and grow a bit before transplanting as they are from tropical countries so do need a little heat.
- Spread the seeds on a paper towel and wet the towel to ensure the seeds have access to water. Place the wet paper towel with the seeds into a plastic bag and place it in a cool area with little light.
- After a while, the seeds germinate, and start shooting small roots that can now be transplanted to some moist compost.
- Gently bury the germinated seeds in a small hole you can create with your finger. Avoid burying the seeds too deep in the soil because it may obstruct the leaves from shooting above ground once formed. I usually plant the seed about an inch deep in 9cm pots.
- place in a propagator with a lid or place a cane in the pot and cover with a clear small plastic bag. Place the seeds where they can access sunlight/artificial light for most of the day, on a sunny windowsill is perfect.
- Once the seedlings are well rooted and have good sized shoots, you can transfer them to their permanent location whether indoors or outdoors. Remember in colder areas they will need to be brought indoors for the winter.
Caring for calla lilies which have been grown from seeds
Considering that the plants are young, the soil needs to be moist to prevent wilting. This does not mean you water them daily, just monitor the soil moisture levels and add water accordingly. Be careful not to overwinter as this can cause them to rot off.
Like most plants, calla lilies need occasional feeding to maintain healthy growth. Using fertilisers with moderate nitrogen levels is ideal, but be watchful not to over fertilise them as this may cause the young leaves’ edges to scorch and wilting.
The sun is crucial for the development of the plants; hence, ensure they get maximum sunlight. In some areas, the sun may be too hot, so you can place the lilies in an area with partial sunlight to mitigate the loss of moisture that leads to wilting.
Watch out for pests such as thrips, especially for calla lilies planted outdoors. Calla lilies also attract aphids, spider mites and whiteflies among other pests, so be on the lookout because it is easy for these pests to devastate young plants.
Finally, let the seedlings grow to a substantial size and harden before moving them outdoors. Planting them after the risk of frost is no longer a danger is advised; otherwise, the low temperatures may damage the young plants.
It is a fact that growing calla lilies from seeds takes a long time as blooms appear after about three years. This should not discourage you because once the lilies start blooming, they will create a beautiful display for you every summer. Please keep the plants well hydrated, fed, and with plenty of access to the sun, and eventually, the plants will mature. Try planting some calla lilies today and see how it goes!