If you want a plant that will make your home look more sophisticated, the calla lily is a good option.
Callas are elegant flowers that have a unique flair. They have chalice-like flowers that are supported by upright foliage. The colors range from luscious tropical colors.
The colors available are: apricot, black, burgundy, mauve, orange, peach, pink, purple, white, and yellow.
These flowers provide color for weeks in the spring or late summer, depending on when they were planted.
Tender perennials, callas flower from early to midsummer.
You can grow callas outside of their recommended hardiness range, but they will only last for one year. Plant them in the spring for a stunning display from midsummer to September.
When the flowers are not blooming, the leaves, which are shaped like straps or hearts, are still attractive and vibrant. The leaves are usually sage to jade green in color and often have luminous white freckles.
Ginger plants are easy to cultivate and grow from rhizomes. They make a great addition to beds, borders, and containers. They can also be grown indoors as houseplants.
Although they are appealing to butterflies and hummingbirds, deer, rabbits, and rodents will usually not bother them.
White varieties are especially popular in wedding bouquets, but all colors make stunning and long-lasting floral arrangements.
If you want to learn more about calla lilies and how to grow them, then keep reading!
What Is a Calla Lily?
Though they are commonly referred to as lilies, calla lilies are not actually members of the Lily family. These plants, which are native to southern Africa, are instead related to the arum or pig lily. The calla lily is a member of the Zantedeschia genus in the Araceae family.
Beautiful calla lilies get their name from the Greek word “kallos,” meaning beauty.
There are eight species of flowers in the genus that are grown for their colorful appearance and ornate decorations. These flowers are perennial and form clumps.
Although they are frost tender, these plants are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11. In cooler regions, they are grown as annuals.
The flowers on the plant consist of a single modified leaf that appears as a seamless “petal”. The petal is rolled into a chalice or trumpet shape.
The spathe is a large, leaf-like bract that encircles a finger-like inflorescence called a spadix. The spadix is the true flowering part of the plant, and is typically golden yellow or the same color as the spathe. After flowering, the spadix produces small seed pods.
The leaves are elongated, stemless, and have a swordlike or arrowhead shape. They come in various shades of green, from milky jade to deep forest.
Many cultivars have delicate white spots on their foliage, which gives them a freckled look.
A Note of Caution:
If you eat any part of the Zantedeschia plant, it will cause a burning sensation in your mouth and throat, make your lips and tongue swell, and give you stomach pain.
Do not plant callas in areas where children or pets play or livestock graze. Wear gloves when handling all parts of the plant, including seeds and rhizomes.
The four most noteworthy species for the home garden, along with many hybrids.
This flower, known as the common or arum lily, features wide trumpet-shaped flowers with a milky white to pale rosy pink spathe. The spathe is often adorned with a saucy flip or twist at the tip.
The spathe of this most popular florist species is anchored by a golden spadix, set against dark green, arrowhead-shaped foliage.
It needs a lot of water and does best in a boggy area or in a water garden. It can also be grown in a regular garden.
These plants typically grow 24 to 40 inches tall and can withstand colder temperatures in hardiness zones 8 to 10.
The spotted calla lily, also known as the white spotted arum, is a flower that is ivory white with occasional cream, pale yellow, and coral pink variations.
The spades are like tall, narrow chalices with broad, freckle-adorned foliage.
This species of plant makes an exceptional cut flower, with a mature height of 12 to 24 inches. It is hardy in Zones 10 to 11.
The Z. elliottiana, otherwise known as the golden arum or calla lily, is a flower with a large, trumpet-like spathe and a spadix of brilliant golden yellow. The foliage surrounding the flower is pretty, freckled, and arrowhead-shaped.
This variety of plant blooms for several weeks and grows to be 24-36 inches tall. It can withstand colder temperatures in zones 8-10.
The Z. rehmannii species is identified by its pink color. It is characterized by having pretty mauve, maroon, pink, purple, and white spathes. The spadices are typically yellow, and the foliage is strappy and swordlike.
This shorter species of plant blooms prolifically and provides weeks of color. The plants are 12 to 24 inches in height and hardy in Zones 8 to 10.
There are also other species of Zephyranthes such as Z. jucunda, Z. odorata, Z. pentlandii, and Z. valida.
The Z. jucunda flower features trumpet-shaped blooms in a variety of yellow shades, from pale and buttery to a deep buttercup color.
Z. odorata is a rare arum with a white spadix and yellowish-orange arrowhead foliage. It has a pleasant, slightly sweet fragrance similar to freesia.
Z. pentlandii has yellow spathes with a purple base, and broad ovate leaves of blue-green.
The Z. valida flower has a light yellow color with a dark purple base. It is also known for its arrowhead shaped leaves.
Cultivation and History
Z. aethiopica was sent to Europe by Simon van der Stel in the 1690s.
Govert van der Stel was very interested in plants, especially those from tropical areas. He sent many samples of African plants to Holland so that they could be studied and grown there commercially.
The white arum was the only species in cultivation until the mid-1800s, when those with colored spathes were introduced.
The coloring of today’s plants is the result of complex hybridization that creates beautiful colors and plants that bloom for a long time.
Z. aethiopica is able to survive in semi-aquatic conditions, but the colored variants are more likely to get bacterial infections and root rot when the soil is oversaturated.
Also, Z. aethiopica that is already established can produce flowers and foliage continuously like an evergreen would under optimal conditions. However, the hybrids that have colorful flowers must undergo a period of dormancy before being able to flower again.
How to Plant Calla Lilies
Calla lilies can be grown in zones 9-11 as a winter hardy plant. In other regions, the plant is grown as an annual, which is more popular. Calla lilies should be planted in spring after the risk of frost has passed. If you want to get a jump start, you can plant them a month before the last frost date.
Choose rhizomes that are healthy and large, with at least one eye. The more eyes and the bigger the rhizome, the more flowers you will get.
You should mix compost into your soil before planting. This will help with drainage and increase the nutrients in the soil. Plant the rhizomes no more than 4 inches deep and 12 inches apart, with the eyes facing upwards. Just barely cover the tops with soil.
Water the rhizomes after planting so that the soil is soaked and settles around the tubers. In 2-3 weeks, you should see shoots appear. The plant will then grow quickly.
If you want your calla lilies to last more than one growing season, you should plant them in a warmer region. The roots and tops of the plant will begin to grow back in the fall, but you won’t see the flowers again until spring or summer.
The best containers for calla lilies are at least 16 inches or larger. The container should be large enough to house the fully mature plant and have drainage holes.
The best way to plant calla lily bulbs is to start with a good quality potting mix and add some compost before planting. In containers, the bulbs can be planted closer together, about 4-6 inches apart.
Calla Lily Care
Once you plant the calla lily, there is not much else you need to do to it! However, here are some extra care tips to ensure you get plenty of blooms from your calla lily.
If you live in a region with temperate summers, calla lilies should be planted in full sun. Otherwise, plant them in partial shade to avoid burning the leaves.
The ideal soil for calla lilies is rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic. To improve the quality of the soil and provide better drainage, you can add soil amendments.
Although they prefer dry soil, they can still survive on the wetter areas around bogs, ponds and streams. As long as their roots are not constantly submerged in water, they will be fine.
Calla lilies need to be watered during their active growth period. As a rule of thumb, they need 1” of water a week. This can come from rainfall or from the garden hose.
While it is extremely hot, you will need to water the calla lilies every other day. If the calla lilies are planted in containers, they will require more frequent waterings.
If you plant calla lilies in the ground, you won’t need to fertilize them, because the initial compost will ensure they have enough food for the summer.
Apply liquid fertilizer to calla lilies every two weeks to encourage growth and flower production. Cease fertilization when the plant is no longer actively growing or flowering.
PESTS AND DISEASES
If you see aphids on the undersides of leaves, you can get rid of them by spraying the plant with water.
Simply picking slugs and snails off the leaves will get rid of them.
If you have a problem with whiteflies or spider mites, you can make a natural pest control spray using herbs from your garden.
If it’s warm or humid outside, the plant may also get powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a white or grey fungal disease that looks fuzzy. The best way to prevent it is by having good air circulation.
If you want more flowers and want to save energy for the plant, cut off the dead flowers.
You can cut fresh flowers from the plant to bring indoors without harming the plant. Calla lilies are popular with florists because they make good cutting flowers.
Once the plant is done blooming, the foliage should be left in place to help the plant gather energy for next season’s growth.
Propagating Calla Lily Flowers
The best way to propagate calla lilies is to divide the plant every 3-5 years. This will help to increase flower production.
Cut the rhizomes into new sections, making sure each section has at least one eye. The goal is to have three eyes per section.
1-2 days after creating the new divisions, replant them or store them accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Calla Lilies
You should not plant calla lilies near areas where there are pets or small children because if they eat the lilies it can cause burning and swelling in their mouth and throat and upset their stomach.
You can grow calla lilies either indoors or outdoors. If you grow them outdoors, they will usually only last for one season, and you will need to plant them in beds or containers. If you want to keep them for more than one season, you can overwinter the rhizomes inside. If you grow them indoors, they will look like tropical houseplants and will provide the same trumpet-like blooms.
Locate your calla lilies in an area of direct sun if you live in an area with temperate summers. If not, then partial or dappled shade is preferred.
The calla lily is an elegant flower that comes in a variety of colors. It has beautiful foliage that lasts all year long and is very low maintenance.
Shade your plants in the afternoon if you live in a hot area and keep the soil moist to ensure your plants bloom beautifully for weeks.
Make sure to dig up the rhizomes that won’t survive the cold weather and store them somewhere safe. You can replant them in the spring.
What are your thoughts on using callas in the garden? Let us know in the comments below!
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