Why Are My Calla Lilies Drooping?

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Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Zoe C.

You may be asking yourself “why are my calla lilies drooping?!” There are two common causes of this – too much water, or too little water. There are also natural growth cycles that the plants go through. Let’s have a look at how to care for these beautiful plants.

What is a Calla Lily?

We learn something new every day – I never realized the plants I call Arum lilies that grow right by my front door are also called calla lilies! So, these are not actually lilies at all – but are of the genus Zantedeschia. 

They originate from Southern Africa originally. However, nowadays, these plants are grown all across the globe. In fact, they are now grown in every continent besides Antarctica. They are herbaceous flowering plants, which are perennial. 

How to Grow Calla Lilies

I have grown these plants for about 40 years! They are really easy to grow and absolutely gorgeous. However, they can become out of control quite quickly. In fact, they can become a complete pest. A beautiful, magical pest. In order to understand the plant, let us take a look at its natural growth cycles (it has a few options).

These plants can survive underground in their rhizome during times when growth is not an option. Their natural range extends from summer to winter rainfall regions. In either of these regions, there is drought during the dry season. During these times, the lilies retreat underground and survive in a dormant stage. They emerge when conditions improve.

In areas where there is enough water, they will grow year-round; as long as they do not get heavily frosted or covered in snow.

The calla/arum lily flowers produce pretty flowers. These set seeds and produce orange berries. I have noticed that one way these plants spread is that they will flop over after the seed set and the flower stem can be a few feet long – where it hits the ground, it will then produce a clump of lilies. Hence calla lilies seem to need to flop over now and then as part of their growth cycle.

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Calla Lilies Suffering From a Case of Sunburn

Calla lilies can get sunburnt if they are not used to being exposed to sunlight. In the wild, these plants can actually grow in direct sunlight, in the harshest of environments. They will also grow in secluded forest groves in deep shade. If a plant has become used to shade and is then exposed to strong sunlight it can cause it to become burnt.

When they burn, the outer leaves normally get a bit wilted and can die. The great thing about these plants is they have an incredible growth rate and will shoot new leaves out quite quickly. If your calla lilies get a bit burnt on a few very hot summer days, you can just remove the burnt parts of the plant, and the plant should recover.

Why Are My Calla Lilies Bending Over?

It can sometimes be part of the growth cycle. Sometimes, in peak summer the plants get ahead of themselves and get really big, and as the days get shorter, the large leaf surface area is no longer sustainable and they sort of flop down a bit.

If this happens I just trim the longer leaves off and the plant sorts itself out. As mentioned earlier, it appears to be part of the growth strategy of the plant.

Sometimes if the plants become too dry, they can also flop over. So ensure they get enough water, but not too much water. They can store water in their rhizomes, so you do not need to water it every day. I think I have my timer set to every three days on the patches of these plants I have and that works fine.

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Here you can see a calla lily in my garden that earlier this year flowered, and the flower produced seeds that then flopped onto the ground and germinated where the arrow is. Give this clump a few more years and it will creep along that drainage ditch.

why are my calla lily leaves drooping

How Often Do You Water Calla Lilies?

Calla lilies need care and attention. If you don’t water them regularly, they won’t grow well. They can dry up during the hot summer months or even during the winter if not watered enough.

If they are watered regularly, they will be healthier and bloom better. I water mine every three days, giving the equivalent of about a quarter inch of “rainfall equivalent”.

Calla lilies like sandy well-drained soil. That said, I have grown them in clay, bog, and all sorts of “bad” soils and they thrive. I suspect some of the fancy cultivars may be fussier, but the generic basic lily is nearly impossible to kill.

If you want to grow your callas, you can do that by buying some seeds. You can plant them in the garden or a container. If you do, make sure that the pot has drainage holes.

If you have poor quality soil, and there is no drainage and you really overwater a calla lily it will rot and die. When this happens there is not much you can do. Sometimes if you dig the rhizome up and put it on a windowsill and let it dry out, you may be able to save the plant.

Learn more about Why Is My Calla Lily Drooping?

Do Temperature Changes Have an Impact on Calla Lilies Drooping?

You can read all sorts of “wisdom” on the internet about how calla lilies will enter dormancy if temperatures drop below 50°F. I have a few plants outside my door that are in full flower and the night time temperatures have been well below this for a month, and daytime temperatures not much above often.

I think it probably has more to do with photoperiod and temperature. If you live in an area where it gets cold, and days get very short, the plants probably cannot photosynthesize enough to maintain leaves and hence become dormant. The plants outside my door were exposed to temperatures close to freezing quite a few times during winter and managed to thrive. But they do get a full 6 hours of decent sunlight in winter, which helps them keep growing.

If your temperatures drop below 50°F during the day and the night, the plants will become dormant.

Final Words on Why Are My Calla Lilies Drooping

Calla lilies are wonderful to grow. Give them decent well-drained soil and water, and they will thrive. In old farms in my area, it was always common to plant calla lilies at the outlet of the French drain toilet system. This nutrient-rich water makes for beautiful lilies which many farmers used to sell to funeral parlors.

If you ensure your lilies get enough light, they should look great for much of the year. Having them flop over on the ground seems to be part of their natural growth cycle, so don’t worry too much about it. I see the wild calla lilies that grow in their natural habitat daily when I walk my dogs – and they flop over from time to time. Do not water the plants so much that they rot, however!


How Do You Bring Calla Lilies Back to Life?

If your calla lily seems to have died, it may just have gone dormant. Let the pot dry out a bit for a few weeks and then water it and place it in a warm sunny place. It should reappear. If it does not, buy a new one.

How Do You Straighten Calla Lilies?

The easiest way to help them to straighten again is by using bamboo. Insert bamboo stakes into the ground and tie them loosely to the bamboo. Just be careful not to do damage to the plant when doing so.

Why Are My Calla Lily Leaves Drooping?

Check if the soil is really wet. See if you can feel the rhizome. If it is squishy and your finger goes into the flesh, chances are you overwatered the plant and it has drowned. You can maybe rescue it by removing the rhizome, washing it clean and letting it dry out for a few days, then repotting it. Chances are when it reaches this point it is lost. Buy a new one, pot it in better, well drained soil and do not overwater it as much.

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