Will Calla Lilies grow in the blue mountains?
Chelle from Lithgow, NSW, Australia
Calla lilies are natives of South Africa, so as you would expect, they thrive in climates that mirror their native growing conditions.
Callas prefer bright light-especially in the morning. In warmer areas, they need to be given protection against a strong afternoon sun. In the U.S., Callas are frost-sensitive, so they are typically only left in the ground in zone 9 (20ºF/-6ºC), or with ample protection in zones 7 (OºF/-17ºC) and zones 8 (10ºF/-12ºC). In colder zones, the rhizomes are lifted in the fall and stored inside during over winter.
In the upper Blue Mountains, the average temperatures are 5ºC (41ºF) in the winter and 16ºF (60.8ºF) in the summer. That is obviously not cold enough to freeze the rhizomes in the winter, but it may not be warm enough to get them to bloom in the summer. Callas flower best at temperatures between 60-75ºF (15.5-23.8ºC) so it is hard to say what will happen. Why not try it? The lower Blue Mountains are warmer, so if you live down there, you are more likely to see the temperatures you need to achieve rich, colorful blooms.
At the very least, you might find success in growing them in containers as houseplants.
To grow as houseplants:
Give callas a sunny spot in a room with a temperature of about 21ºC (70ºF) and keep their soil evenly moist during the growing period. Fertilize them using a balanced (20-20-20) water-soluble fertilizer according to label directions. After the callas bloom, stop feeding and reduce watering until the foliage dies back. Let the tubers rest without moisture for a period of 2 to 3 months. Then repot and lightly water them until the new growth emerges. Resume your normal feeding and watering schedule when growth reaches 3-4 inches above the soil.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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