Why Are My Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow? The Reasons Why

Calla lilies are native to South Africa, related to arum lilies, though they require a frost-free environment. They are such a favorite among many gardeners because of how it can turn heads with its sheer beauty, having the elegantly curved flowers in colors that turn from deep purple to blazing orange. Its flowers are surrounded by leaves that are just as beautiful, too.

But what happens when they begin to yellow, though? It may leave you wondering, “why are my calla lily leaves turning yellow?” Read on to find out!

why are my calla lily leaves turning yellow
Credit: gardening-forums.com

Why Are My Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow?

Don’t you just hate it when you see your calla lily leaves turning yellow? Not only is it a sight for sore eyes, but it can also negatively affect your plants’ growth and development. But why does it happen in the first place?

Here are the common reasons why:

1. Chlorosis

Chlorosis is another term for yellowing leaves, which is sometimes caused by a shortage of nutrients from the soil. It can most often be iron, nitrogen, zinc, or other trace elements. It may either be your soil lacking the element, or there is something in the roots that prevent proper nutrient absorption.

2. Root Rot

Another common reason is root rot. Take note that calla lily plants do NOT like having their roots soaked constantly in puddles of water. With too much moisture, it can cause roots to start rotting, along with the increase of contracting other diseases. This would wither your plants’ leaves, causing them to yellow and eventually die off.

3. They Are Dying Off

It might just be the normal life cycle of the calla lily. In its native habitat, the calla lily would live in swampland. When summer turns to fall, the swampland will dry up, with the calla lily foliage dying back and the plant going dormant. The calla lilies in your pot or garden would do the same.

When calla lilies move to dormancy, its foliage will begin to turn yellow naturally, then brown, before dying. If your plant enters dormancy, then there’s nothing to worry about here, just allow the plant to run its course. Then, maintain the plant by watering it infrequently for the next months it stays in dormancy, resuming regular watering once it leaves the phase.

4. Any Care Issues?

Calla lily leaves might turn yellow when they are transplanted, as the plant has suffered from transplant stress. When the root system would develop in a new location, the plant produced new leaves, so you can then cut off the yellow leaves.

Other times, winds may also cause the leaves to yellow, so make sure to plant them in a sunny and protected area.

Furthermore, adding cow manure to the soil may result in yellowing leaves on calla lilies, as this can cause a salt overdose. If this happens, remove your plant and plant it in a whole new area with fresh potting soil.

Treating Your Calla Lily Leaves

Now that you’re familiar with why your calla lily leaves are turning yellow, the question is: What can you do to treat it properly? Here are tips you can follow to nurse your calla lily plants back to health:

1. Water It Smartly

Control and prevent root rot from happening by providing your calla lilies with well-draining soil. You may want to consider reducing your watering sessions.

However, do NOT overwater your calla lilies, as overwatering can also have the leaves turn yellow and drooping during the summer season. It should never sit in water for over 15 minutes long.

Make sure that you allow the compost to almost dry out between watering, and water them in the morning instead of the night so the roots won’t sit in wet compost overnight, drying out during the daytime.

2. Transplant It Correctly

When you transplant calla lilies, do NOT plant it too deep to the point the soil would cover the stem’s base. This can encourage root rot. When you plant the calla lily in containers, use a plant pot that has drainage holes.

It’s very important to plant your calla lilies in well-drained soil in raised beds as well, so the soil drains water well after watering. Also, if transplanting calla lilies, plant the rhizomes very carefully to prevent injuries that may affect its growth and leaves’ development.

You may also want to consider giving it proper fertilizer, doing so monthly when the leaves are yellowing or producing no flowers.

3. Care for Them During Winter

In autumn, when calla lilies have finished flowering, its leaves will turn yellow then die back, as mentioned above.

When this happens, cut your plants down to the grown and dig up its tubers, placing them in a greenhouse or on warm and sunny windowsills for them to dry. Once they dry, wrap tubers in a newspaper, storing them somewhere dark and cool during the winter.

If you have indoor calla lilies, remove any brown leaves, keeping your plants at a temperature of at least 10 degrees Celsius, watering them less during these times.

Do you want to learn more about how to care for your calla lily plants? Here is an informative video to check out:

Wrapping It Up

The calla lily is the classic bulb plant, and if its leaves have begun to yellow, not to worry! This is a normal occurrence and there are ways you can remedy it. You first just have to make sure that you know the root cause so you know what to do to nurse it back to health.

I hope that this article answered your question, “why are my calla lily leaves turning yellow?” Now that you know the answer, make sure that you find the exact reason behind your calla lily leaves yellowing to know what action to take now. Good luck!

3 thoughts on “Why Are My Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow? The Reasons Why”

  1. You did not mention what type of nutrients / fertilizer combination to use: NPK

    Please update article or follow up on this it would be helpful

    • What is the best combination of NPK fertilizer?
      Studies have found that the ideal NPK fertilizer ratio of those nutrients for flowering plants is 3-1-2. (That’s 3% Nitrogen, 1% phosphorus & 2% potassium.) So look for that ratio on the label of packaged fertilizers; anything close to a 3-1-2, a 6-2-4 or a 9-3-6 should be ideal.

      You can search for the nutrient ratio of each plant or flower according to the information on the packaging of NPK fertilizer products. Thanks a lot 🙂


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