Stunning Sophistication from south Africa
Common Name: calla lily
Botanical Name: Zantedeschia aethiopica
Form: upright vase
Plant Type: bulbous rhizomes
Mature Size: 2 to 3 feet x 1 to 2 feet
Growth: slow to establish
Origin: South Africa
Hardiness Zone: 8 to 10, Zone 7 with protection
Foliage: arrowhead shaped green leaves arise directly from rhizomes
Flowers: June to July, white flowers, many coloured cultivars
Fruit: seed pods contain many seeds, remove to encourage more rhizomes
Exposure: sun to part shade
Uses: annual bedding plant, houseplant, marginal pond plant, rain garden, cut flower, borders, containers
Propagation: rhizomes, seeds
Problems: All parts are poisonous. Their rhizomes were once used to treat wounds in their native South Africa. Japanese beetles.
Calla lilies’ showy flowers are coveted by many, and not just because they are so perfect and elegant. These tropical South African natives are tough to grow in many areas of the world, especially cool climates, which adds to their allure. To grow callas successfully they need similar conditions to their native habitat of tropical South Africa. The temperature of their tropical home is relatively constant with only a rainy and dry season to indicate a change of season.
For those living in climates cooler than USDA Zone 8 (Zone 7 if given plenty of winter protection), callas are grown as houseplants, used as annual bedding plants, or they are dug up and stored over winter.
Despite their name, calla lilies are not lilies at all but are arums (Jack-in-the-pulpits). All arums have a central spike (spadix) that’s surrounded by a thick, colourful bract (spathe), and callas are no exception. They have thick, white leathery spathes that surround a central bright yellow spike on leafless stems. Plant breeders have made the spathes bigger and introduced more colours that delight and excite, which makes these tropical jewels even more appealing. Leaves are now also spotted or streaked with white.
Outside planting Instructions:
After the danger of frost has passed, plant rhizomes 3 to 4 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. Plant in full sun or partial shade. They will fail to flower if it is too shady. Soil should be kept moist as dry soil leads to dormancy and death if drought is prolonged. Add a winter mulch (fall leaves) or mound soil overtop in fall covering the plants from 3 to 6 inches deep. Remove in spring after danger of frost has passed.
Instructions for overwintering indoors
If grown in containers over summer, bring indoors before frost. Place in front a bright, sunny window and keep as a houseplant. To induce dormancy, place them in a dark frost free location and repot with fresh potting soil in spring. Potted callas like a rich moist soil so add 1 to 2 parts compost to potting soil and mix well.
If grown directly in the ground, dig up the rhizomes before frost. Store them in a cool, dry location. Replant in spring once frost has passed.