Why Are Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow? A Comprehensive Guide

Calla lilies, Yellow

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Calla lilies are renowned for their exquisite beauty, with their trumpet-shaped flowers adding a touch of elegance to any garden or indoor space.

However, if you notice that the leaves of your calla lily plant are turning yellow, it can be a cause for concern.

Yellowing leaves can be an indication of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed to ensure the continued health and vibrancy of your calla lilies.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various factors that can contribute to calla lily leaves turning yellow and provide you with practical tips on how to treat and prevent this issue.

Armed with this knowledge, you will be well-equipped to maintain the vitality and beauty of your calla lilies.

Causes of Yellowing Leaves on Calla Lily

Watering Issues

Improper watering practices are one of the primary culprits behind yellowing leaves in calla lilies. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which hinders the roots’ ability to absorb nutrients effectively.

On the other hand, under-watering can result in wilting and yellowing leaves due to a lack of moisture.

To address overwatering, ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Adjust the watering frequency and consider using well-draining soil to prevent water accumulation.

Conversely, if you notice signs of under-watering such as wilting, increase the frequency of watering. It is essential to strike a balance that allows the soil to partially dry out between waterings.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies can manifest as chlorosis, leading to yellow leaves in calla lilies. Common nutrient deficiencies include nitrogen, iron, zinc, and trace elements.

To address these deficiencies, conduct a soil test using a soil test kit. Based on the results, amend the soil with organic matter or specific nutrients to restore the proper nutrient balance.


Several diseases can cause yellowing leaves in calla lilies. Fungal infections, often triggered by overwatering, high humidity, and poor air circulation, can result in powdery or fuzzy substances on the leaves or stems, accompanied by yellowing. Root rot, caused by overwatering, can also contribute to yellowing leaves.

To combat diseases, remove and dispose of affected plant parts, apply appropriate fungicides, and ensure proper watering practices to minimize fungal growth.

Additionally, sterilize your gardening tools and provide adequate spacing between plants to promote airflow and reduce the risk of disease.


Pests such as caterpillars, snails, and slugs can damage calla lily foliage, leading to yellowing leaves. These pests often chew on the leaves, leaving them vulnerable to diseases.

To control pests, manually remove large pests and dispose of them. Utilize traps, such as beer traps for slugs and snails.

If necessary, apply natural or chemical insecticides to mitigate pest infestations. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pest activity to address the issue promptly.

Prevention and Treatment

Watering and Soil Management

Proper watering and soil management are crucial in preventing yellowing leaves in calla lilies. Ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging and root rot. Consider adding sand or planting your calla lilies in raised beds to improve drainage.

Moderate watering is key to maintaining healthy calla lilies. Avoid overwatering or allowing the soil to dry out completely. Provide partial shade to prevent excessive sunlight exposure, as this can contribute to yellowing leaves.

Applying a layer of mulch around the base of your plants can help retain moisture and protect the rhizomes from temperature fluctuations.

Nutrient Management

Regularly inspect your calla lilies for signs of nutrient deficiencies and apply appropriate fertilizers to address any imbalances.

Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to problems. Follow the recommended application rates and instructions provided by the fertilizer manufacturer.

During transplanting, calla lilies may experience transplant shock, resulting in temporary yellowing of the leaves.

Minimize stress by handling the plants gently and ensuring that the new planting site provides a suitable environment for their growth.

Disease and Pest Control

Maintaining a clean garden environment is crucial in preventing diseases and pests. Regularly remove debris and maintain good garden hygiene to minimize the risk of infestations.

Inspect your calla lilies for signs of pests and diseases, and promptly address any issues that arise.

Fungal diseases can be prevented by avoiding overcrowding and providing adequate airflow. Regularly monitor your plants for disease symptoms and treat them accordingly with appropriate fungicides.

Consider introducing beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, to naturally control pest populations.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can effectively combat yellowing leaves in calla lilies and ensure the long-term health and beauty of your plants.

Calla Lily Care

Adjusting to Changing Conditions

Yellowing leaves in calla lilies can sometimes be attributed to changing conditions, such as nutrient deficiencies or improper watering.

Monitor your plants closely and provide the necessary nutrients, such as nitrogen, iron, and zinc, through the application of a balanced fertilizer. Adjust your care routine based on your plant’s needs and avoid over- or under-watering.

Plant Dormancy

Calla lilies naturally go through a dormancy period characterized by slowed growth and potential yellowing of leaves. This dormancy period is a normal part of their lifecycle. To properly care for your calla lilies during this time:

  1. Gradually reduce watering until the leaves become yellow and withered.
  2. Remove the yellow leaves, leaving only the healthy ones intact.
  3. Minimize fertilizer usage during the dormancy period, as the plant requires fewer nutrients.
  4. Relocate your calla lilies to a cool, dark place, such as a basement or garage, to simulate the ideal conditions for dormancy.


After the dormancy period, take the necessary steps to encourage the revival of your calla lilies:

  1. Gradually reintroduce light and warmth by moving the plant to a sunnier spot.
  2. Resume regular watering, ensuring that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Consider using a diluted fertilizer rich in nitrogen, iron, and zinc to support new growth.
  4. Be patient, as it may take several weeks for your calla lilies to bounce back and resume normal growth.

By providing proper care and adjusting to the changing needs of your calla lilies, you can prevent yellowing leaves and enjoy healthy, vibrant plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are outdoor calla lily leaves turning yellow?

Outdoor calla lily leaves can turn yellow due to various factors, including overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, or pest infestations. It is important to closely monitor your plant’s watering and feeding, as well as inspect it for signs of pests or diseases.

What causes calla lily leaves to turn yellow without producing flowers?

If your calla lily leaves are turning yellow without producing flowers, it may be due to poor soil quality, inadequate sunlight, or plant stress.

Ensure that your calla lilies are planted in well-draining soil, receive sufficient sunlight, and are protected from harsh environmental conditions to encourage healthy foliage and blooming.

How can I help a potted calla lily with yellow leaves?

To help a potted calla lily with yellow leaves:

  1. Ensure proper drainage by using a well-draining potting mix and a pot with drainage holes.
  2. Avoid overwatering or underwatering by consistently checking the soil moisture and watering when the top inch of soil feels dry.
  3. Provide adequate sunlight, ideally 6 to 8 hours per day.
  4. Feed the plant with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to the package instructions.

Should I trim yellow calla lily leaves?

Yes, it is recommended to trim yellow calla lily leaves to promote healthy growth and prevent the spread of diseases or pests.

Use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors to remove the affected leaves at the base of the stem. Remember to disinfect your cutting tools before and after trimming to prevent the spread of pathogens.

What are the common reasons for yellow and drooping calla lilies?

Common reasons for yellow and drooping calla lilies include overwatering or underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, and pest or disease infestations.

Proper watering practices, nutrient management, and regular inspection for pests and diseases can help address these issues and maintain the health of your calla lilies.

How should I water a calla lily to prevent yellowing leaves?

To properly water a calla lily and prevent yellowing leaves:

  1. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
  2. Provide a deep watering to ensure the water reaches the root system.
  3. Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings to prevent root rot and overwatering.
  4. Water your calla lily early in the day to allow for adequate evaporation and minimize fungal growth.
  5. Ensure the plant is in well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

By following these watering guidelines, you can help prevent yellowing leaves and promote the overall health of your calla lilies.

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