Calla Lily

Carithers Flowers Design Favorite

Calla lily (Zantedeschia) is really not a calla or a lily, but is the common name for the Zantedeschia genus containing 28 species of the Araceae family. Native to southern Africa, the calla genus was split into smaller groups as biologists learned that the plant was not as closely related as originally thought. Other common names include Lily of the Nile, Easter lily, Arum lily and Varkoor (African name meaning pig's ear). Its long-lasting blooms have a good vase life, and the floral industry has cultivated them for sale at Easter time since the 1700’s in Ireland and England. It is the national flower of St. Helena, where it grows in abundance.

Calla lily grows from a rhizome bulb, reaching 2-3’ in height with very large clumps of arrow-shaped green leaves that are up to 18” in length. Its flower is a white, pink or yellow trumpet-shaped spathe with a center yellow spadix. Calla lily blooms from the top of its thick stem in spring, summer and fall. It prefers to grow in damp tropical areas like the banks of ponds and streams or in marshlands. It is a strong, hardy plant that can grow in any soil so long as the climate is humid enough. It does best in full sun to part shade. To keep the bulb from rotting, the soil should never dry out completely, but not be too wet either. As with most bulbs, Calla lily multiplies by producing more bulbs that can be dug up and replanted in another area. Good garden companions include the August lily (Hosta plantaginea).

Growing Recommendations - Calla Lilys

Calla lily are susceptible to rot, mold, rust and virus due to the humid conditions of its habitat. Though it is not susceptible to garden pests, it is considered a toxic weed and pest itself in western Australia where it has been naturalized. The plant contains calcium oxalate, resulting in a burning sensation when ingested, along with possible swelling of the throat, tongue and lips and severe stomach distress.

Photos of Calla Lily

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