Calla lilies (Calla lily plants) are flowering plants native to southern Africa. They are also known as Zantedeschia or arum lilies. Calla lilies are popular as ornamental plants and are commonly used in flower arrangements due to their elegant and distinctive appearance.
The scientific name of Calla lilies is Zantedeschia. Several species are within the Zantedeschia genus, the most common being Zantedeschia aethiopica. However, the term "Calla lily" refers to Zantedeschia hybrids, popular ornamental plants in the horticultural industry.
While Zantedeschia aethiopica is a beautiful plant, it should be noted that it is toxic to humans and animals if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause severe irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat if ingested. It is, therefore, important to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets and to wear gloves when handling it.
Calla lilies have large, trumpet-shaped flowers in various colours, including white, pink, yellow, orange, and purple. The flowers are surrounded by a thick, green, waxy spathe often mistaken for the flower itself. The leaves of the plant are large, glossy, and arrow-shaped.
Calla lilies prefer moist, well-drained soil and partial to full sun. They can be grown outdoors in warm climates, but in cooler climates, they are usually grown indoors as houseplants. Calla lilies are typically grown from rhizomes and underground stems producing new shoots and roots. They are also propagated by dividing the rhizomes and planting them separately.
Calla Lily care: Tips on Growing Calla Lilies in your garden
The best time to plant Calla Lilies is in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. Calla Lilies prefer warm soil, so it is essential to wait until the soil temperature has reached at least 55°F (13°C) before planting. Planting in the spring allows the plant to establish a healthy root system and start growing before the hot summer months arrive. Calla Lilies can be planted in the fall for winter and spring blooms in warmer climates. However, the rhizomes should be lifted and stored indoors in colder climates over the winter to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Calla Lilies are typically grown from bulbs, also known as rhizomes. Here are some tips on planting Calla Lily bulbs:
- Choosing Bulbs: Choose firm, healthy bulbs with no signs of mould or soft spots. Larger bulbs will generally produce more significant, more robust plants.
- Soil: Calla Lilies prefer rich, moist soil that drains well. If soil is heavy or compacted, amend it with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
- Planting: Calla lilies prefer rich, moist soil that drains well. Plant them in a location with partial shade and protection from the hot midday sun. The best time to plant is in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
- Planting Depth: Plant the bulbs with the pointy end facing up, 3-4 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart. Plant in the spring after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed up.
- Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once a week during dry weather. Avoid getting water on the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.
- Fertilizing: Calla lilies benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.
- Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Pruning: Remove spent flowers and yellowing leaves as they appear to encourage new growth and prolong blooming.
- Winter Care: In colder climates, Calla lilies can be lifted and stored indoors over the winter. Allow the foliage to die back naturally, then dig up the rhizomes and dry them in a cool, dry location. Store the rhizomes in a paper bag or container filled with peat moss or sawdust.
- Pests and Diseases: Calla lilies are generally resistant to pests and diseases but can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as leaf spots and root rot. To prevent these issues, avoid overwatering and ensure good air circulation around the plants.
Overall, Calla lilies are relatively easy to grow and care for and add elegance to any garden or floral arrangement.
Calla Lilies and sunlight
Calla Lilies prefer bright, indirect sunlight and can thrive in partial shade or filtered light. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time, as this can scorch their leaves and cause damage to the plant.
When grown indoors, Calla Lilies should be placed in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight near a north or east-facing window. In areas with very bright, direct sunlight, the plant can be shielded by a sheer curtain or placed in a location where it will receive filtered light.
When grown outdoors, Calla Lilies can be planted in partial shade or in a location that receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade. They can also be grown in containers and moved to different locations throughout the day to ensure they receive the appropriate amount of light.
Providing Calla Lilies with the appropriate amount of sunlight is important for their growth and health and can help ensure they produce the attractive foliage and blooms they are known for.
Growing Calla Lilies indoors
Growing Calla Lilies indoors can be more challenging than growing them outdoors, but it is definitely possible. Here are some tips to help you grow Calla Lilies indoors:
- Choose a suitable container: Calla Lilies need a container with good drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Choose a container that is at least 6 inches deep and 8-10 inches wide.
- Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix with good fertility, and amend it with compost or other organic matter to improve moisture retention.
- Planting: Plant the Calla Lily bulb with the pointy end facing up, 2-3 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. Water the soil well after planting.
- Light: Calla Lilies need bright, indirect light to thrive indoors. Place them near a window that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, or use artificial grow lights to supplement natural light.
- Temperature: Calla Lilies prefer temperatures between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C). Avoid placing them near drafts or heating/cooling vents that can cause temperature fluctuations.
- Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once a week during dry weather, and allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.
- Fertilizing: Calla Lilies benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.
- Humidity: Calla Lilies prefer moderate humidity, so consider using a humidifier or placing a water tray near the plants to increase humidity.
- Pruning: Remove spent flowers and yellowing leaves as they appear to encourage new growth and prolong blooming. Cut back the foliage in the fall after it has turned yellow and wilted.
With proper care, Calla Lilies can thrive and produce beautiful Calla lilies flowers indoors.
Winter Care for Calla Lily plants
If you live in a region with cold winters, you can protect your Calla Lilies by taking them indoors for the winter. Here are some tips on how to care for Calla Lilies over winter:
- Wait for the foliage to die back: When the foliage turns yellow and dies back, it's a sign that the plant is going into dormancy. At this point, stop watering the plant and let the soil dry out.
- Dig up the rhizomes: Once the foliage has completely died back, dig up the rhizomes using a garden fork or trowel. Be careful not to damage the rhizomes.
- Cut back the foliage: Cut back any remaining foliage to about 2 inches above the rhizomes.
- Allow the rhizomes to dry: Allow the rhizomes to dry in a cool, dry location for a few days. This will help to prevent fungal diseases from developing.
- Store the rhizomes: Once the rhizomes are dry, place them in a paper bag or container filled with peat moss or sawdust. Store them in a cool, dry location where the temperature stays above freezing but below 50°F (10°C).
- Check on the rhizomes periodically: Check them every few weeks to ensure they are still firm and healthy. Remove the affected rhizomes if you notice any signs of mold or rot.
- Replant in the spring: When the danger of frost has passed in the spring, you can replant the Calla Lily rhizomes in well-draining soil in a sunny or partially shaded location.
Following these steps, you can protect your Calla Lilies over the winter and ensure they come back strong and healthy in the spring.
Origin of Calla Lily
The exact origin of the Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in southern Africa, specifically in the Cape Province region. The plant grows in this region's marshy areas and along streams and rivers. The Calla Lily has been cultivated and hybridized for ornamental purposes since the 18th century and is now a popular garden and houseplant worldwide. It is also widely used in the floral industry for its striking appearance and long vase life. The Calla Lily is a member of the Araceae family, which includes other popular ornamental plants such as the peace lily, philodendron, and anthurium.
Does Calla Lily flower every year?
Yes, Calla Lilies can flower every year under the right conditions. However, the frequency and abundance of flowering can depend on several factors, such as the plant's age, health, growing conditions, and whether or not it has been properly cared for.
It's important to note that Calla Lilies have a natural dormant period where they rest and do not flower. The foliage will die back during this time, and the plant will become dormant. To encourage flowering in the following year, it's important to ensure that the plant is given proper care during its growing season and that it is allowed to rest and go through its natural dormant period.
Proper care includes providing the plant with sufficient sunlight, regular watering, and a balanced fertilizer. Additionally, Calla Lilies prefer well-draining soil and do not tolerate being waterlogged, which can cause root rot and other problems.
With proper care, Calla Lilies can bloom every year, bringing their striking, elegant flowers to gardens and homes alike.
What are Calla Lillies used for?
Calla Lilies are popular ornamental plants that are used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Garden plants: Calla Lilies are often grown in gardens and outdoor landscapes for their attractive foliage and showy flowers. They are also used in mixed borders, container gardens, and as cut flowers.
- Indoor plants: Calla Lilies are also popular indoor plants and can be grown in pots or containers in bright, indirect light. They are especially popular for their elegant, long-lasting blooms.
- Wedding and event decor: Calla Lilies are a popular choice for wedding bouquets, centrepieces, and other floral arrangements, thanks to their elegant and striking appearance.
- Religious symbolism: Calla Lilies have been used in religious ceremonies and symbolism for centuries and are often associated with purity, faith, and resurrection.
- Food: Some varieties of Calla Lilies, such as the white-flowered Zantedeschia aethiopica, have edible roots, known as "taro" and are a staple food crop in many parts of the world.Calla Lily and hot summersCalla Lilies can be sensitive to hot summers, especially if they are grown in areas with high temperatures and low humidity. High heat and direct sunlight can cause the leaves to wilt and the flowers to fade more quickly, and can also cause the soil to dry out more quickly.To protect Calla Lilies during hot summers, it's important to provide them with sufficient water and shade. Here are some tips:
- Water regularly: Calla Lilies need consistent moisture to thrive, especially during hot weather. Make sure to water them deeply and regularly, and check the soil moisture frequently to ensure that it remains evenly moist.
- Mulch: Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots cool during hot weather.
- Provide shade: If your Calla Lilies are in an area with direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day, consider providing them with shade. This can be done using shade cloth, an umbrella, or by moving the plants to a location that receives filtered light.
- Keep the soil cool: Adding a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant can help keep the soil cool and moist.