The Q&A Archives: Smelly Callas

Question: Last year I planted some calla lilies in front of my home in some pots. They came up beautifully and everything was great until they started to wilt and die. When this began to occur, they started to have the most awful smell, like rotting meat. Is this just the way calla lilies are, or is there something I can do to prevent this from occuring?

Answer: Although calla lilies will die back when allowed to dry out, they should not smell. The odor would indicate some type of rotting, possibly a bacterial infection and/or related to poor drainage. Ideally the plants would be long lived and you would be able to keep them from year to year. If it happens again, you might want to take a sample to your county extension and see if they can identify the specific cause and then suggest steps to avoid it.

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