Native to South Africa, the calla lily plant is a great addition to your indoor plant collection or your outdoor garden due to its beautiful blooms. This vibrant plant loves warm weather and is easy to grow, even for beginners.
However, various issues may arise when you grow calla lilies, even though you think everything you’ve done is correct. One thing you might notice is that your calla lily flower is turning brown.
Do not fret. These adverse changes may be temporary and as soon as you identify the specific problem, you may have a chance at saving your plant’s life.
Common reasons why the calla lily flower turns brown
Calla lily flowers may turn brown for a number of reasons. Make sure to check each of the possible causes so that you can correctly identify how to address the issue.
If your calla lily does not get enough water, it will not receive enough nutrients to grow. Hence, underwatering can be an obvious culprit if your plant’s flower turns brown.
Overwatering, on the other hand, can damage the roots of the plant and prevent it from absorbing enough nutrients from the soil. Standing water can also block the oxygen from reaching the roots of your plant.
Unfortunately, a lot of beginners overestimate the amount of water needed by their plant, leading to root damage. To properly care for your calla lily, make sure to hydrate it with just enough water. You can tell if the plant needs watering by simply checking whether the top of the soil is completely dry.
Exposure to direct sunlight
Calla lily plants love warm temperatures and sunlight. However, exposing them to direct sunlight for a very long time can lead to sunburn and the browning of their leaves.
Although these plants grow well in tropical areas, they should only be positioned in areas with partial sunlight. Dappled light or sunlight filtered through other plants should be enough for your calla lilies to flourish.
Frost damage due to cold weather
Another reason your calla lily flower may turn brown is due to cold weather. In fact, the plant may not even survive the cold season.
As you may already know, calla lilies thrive in warm, humid environments. When exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, these plants may suffer frost damage. So, when it gets chilly outside, it is best to take your calla lily indoors to protect it from the cold. It is also highly recommended to maintain a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your calla lily plant healthy.
Too much fertilizer
Overfeeding the plant with fertilizer is another common mistake among calla lily owners, and especially beginners.
Fertilizers are a great supplement to ensure your plant gets enough nutrients to bloom. But an excessive amount can cause a salt accumulation in the soil over time, which is bad for the plant’s roots. And, when the roots are damaged, you will soon notice your calla lily flower turning brown.
Calla lilies are susceptible to fertilizer burn, so you must be extra careful with the amount you feed. Applying a small amount of fertilizer every few months should suffice.
Root rot due to poor drainage
Aside from too much watering, root damage may also occur if you are using a pot or potting medium without proper drainage.
Make sure to use a soil mixture that drains really well, to prevent standing water and keep the plant’s roots healthy. A good potting mix should be composed of fluffy and light materials. You can choose peat moss, pine bark, vermiculite, or perlite for your calla lily. If your soil mix retains too much water, adjust the watering schedule and the amount of water you use to avoid soaking the roots of your plant.
A pot that does not drain properly will also leave the soil too wet and cause the roots of the plant to rot. If you are using a pot that does not have drainage holes, you can poke or drill holes at the bottom of the container to allow any excess water to flow out.
Using tap water
Most sources of tap water contain high amounts of fluoride and other minerals that are not friendly for your calla lily. In fact, this could be a very common mistake that most owners tend to overlook, thinking that tap water is generally safe.
To prevent the flowers and leaves from turning brown, try to use only filtered or distilled water to hydrate your plants.
End of life
If you have done everything right and still your calla lily flower turns brown, then it may have reached the end of its life. Just like other plants, the browning of its flowers and leaves is part of its life cycle. When the plant is on its way to dying, the flower will start to wither and may fall off on its own.
Should I cut dead flowers off my calla lily?
Yes, cutting off the brown flowers will help your calla lily bloom again. It is best to cut the dead flower at the base of the stalk, slicing the stem carefully with a pair of clean pruning shears. Never attempt to remove the dead flower with your hand, as this can hurt the rest of the plant.
You can also remove any leaves that have turned brown, black or yellow to improve the plant’s health and prolong its lifespan.
How often should calla lilies be watered?
Watering your calla lily every other day, especially during the hot seasons, is beneficial to keep your plant hydrated. It is extremely important that your plant receives just enough water to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Remember that moist soil helps your plant absorb nutrients, but soggy soil will damage its roots.
To prevent underwatering or overwatering, you need to water your calla lily with the right amount at the right time. The best way to know if your plant needs watering is to feel the top two inches of the soil; if it is dry, you can water it. You can also purchase a moisture gauge to help you monitor the soil moisture levels.
Watch for fungal issues
Fungal infections occur when your plant is exposed to a wet and cool environment. When the weather turns warm, the fungal spores begin to grow on the stem and bulb, causing your plant to droop and become mushy. When this happens, the only solution is to replant your calla lily in new soil or start all over again with a new plant.
Calla lilies are relatively easy to grow, even for beginners. However, they still need your proper care and attention in order to bloom. Moderation should be your guide to prevent the flowers from turning brown and increase the lifespan of these lovely plants.
Image: istockphoto.com / BING-JHEN HONG