The Calla Lily plant, Zantedeschia aethiopica, produces beautiful flowers when grown outdoors, planted in the ground in a warm area, or indoors grown in a decorative pot next to a sunny window. This elegant plant, native to the marshes of South Africa, is not a true lily or even in the Lilium family. A Calla Lily is a member of the Araceae family and a relative of the caladium plant. The long-lasting flowers are popular in wedding bouquets where they are a symbol of purity and beauty.
Calla Lily Description
A Calla Lily plant is grown from small rhizomes. A rhizome is a long, thick, modified stem that grows horizontally underground. It produces shoots that grow upwards and out of the soil and roots that grow downwards. Rhizomes, like Plant BulbsSome indoor and outdoor plants are grown from bulbs. Plant Bulbs, swollen underground stems with scaley leaves, store food and provide energy for the plants we see above ground. They are also used for propagation. Bulbs should be planted deep enough in the soil so that they are totally covered. How deep you plant the bulb, depends upon the plant variety. There are true bulbs and there are rhizomes, corms, and tubers that are sometimes included as types of bulbs. Bulb plants that keep their leaves all year are used as houseplants. Bulb plants that lose their leaves after they flower and become dormant are usually used as outdoor plants. Certain environmental conditions, such as the change in temperature from winter to spring, encourage bulb plants to produce flowers. Once the plant has finished flowering and is only a green leafy plant, the plant rests for a few months. During this time, the bulb absorbs and stores nutrients from the soil to help the plant flower again the following year. Some indoor plants that grow from bulbs are: amaryllis, calla lily, caladium (tubers), False Shamrock plant (Oxalis triangularis), begonia (tubers), and cyclamen (corms), cyclamen (tubers)., not only support the plant but store food and other nutrients. The large, tubular or funnel shaped Calla Lily flowers (spathes), grow atop tall, thick stems and have a finger-like yellow spadix in the center. The flower can be as large as 10″ (25.4cm) long. The long tapered green leaves of the plant may be streaked with faint white or yellow spots. Today, thanks to the many new hybrids developed by breeders throughout the world, Calla Lilies can be found not only in white, but also pink, orange, fuchsia, red, yellow, dark maroon, and cream.
Quick Care Tips for a Calla Lily
Needs bright, indirect light but no direct sun
Keep soil moist but never soggy at all times
Feed every 2 weeks when flowering and monthly when there are only leaves.
Cool temperatures 50°-75°F (10°-24°C)Keep in small pot to encourage more flowers
Plant must have a 2-3 month dormant (rest) period if you want it to flower
Propagate by dividing the rhizomes
Calla Lily Plant Varieties
Zantedeschia aethiopica – “White Calla Lily” – white flowers
Zantedeschia elliottiana – “Golden Calla Lily” bright yellow flowers
Zantedeschia “Picasso” – dark purple flowers with a creamy white border
Zantedeschia “Mango” – peach colored flowers with a dark brown center and green leaves with white spots
Zantedeschia “Captain Amigo” – golden yellow flowers that blend into deep orange and green leaves with white spots
Zantedeschia “Mozart “ – peachy pink flowers and green leaves with white spots
Zantedeschia “Black Star” – dark purple almost black flowers and green leaves with white spots.
Zantedeschia “Captain Romance” deep pink and cream colored flowers and green leaves with white spots
A Calla Lily is a beautiful plant that produces elegant looking flowers. It is well worth the extra time and effort it takes to follow the care tips below, especially when its time for the plant to have a rest and go dormant for a few months. A Calla Lily is a poisonous plant and should be kept way from small children and pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
After your Calla Lilies finish blooming you’ll see a seed pod hanging just behind where the flower was. Let the seed pod remain on the plant until it turns yellow and becomes soft. Once you remove the pod, gently break it open and remove the seeds from the inner pulp. If you want to grow Calla Lilies from seed you have to be very patient. Calla Lilies usually take 3 or more years to produce flowers after the seeds are planted.
Calla Lilies take about 12-14 weeks for the flowers to look their best. So I’d recommend planting the bulbs about 3 1/2 months before you plan to use the flowers. Be sure to have a back up flower plan in case the Calla Lilies have a problem and don’t produce the number of blooms you’re hoping for in time for your wedding.
There are several reasons why a Calla Lily produces only leaves and no flowers.
Just the opposite, you should never feed a Calla Lily when it is in bloom. Good quality Calla Lily bulbs do not need much fertilizer so always err on the side of less food rather than more.