Zantedeschia, often known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies, are popular exotic looking plants that are native to South Africa. They will bear narrow, lance or funnel shaped flowers in the most fantastic array of colours and are particularly effective when grown in groups within a border, or planted in pots and spread out on the patio.
There are a wide range of varieties, in sizes ranging from 40cm to 90cm and a dazzling array of colours to choose from. Their exotic looking flowers look particularly striking in cut flower arrangements, giving your bouquets an exciting tropical look. And, if overwintered in a sheltered spot, the tubers can produce a great display for many years.
They are particularly attractive when in flower, with dark green foliage (mottled on some varieties) and distinct colour flowers that can be solid or two toned.
There are many distinctions between the different varieties of Zantedeschia but one of the most noteworthy is that some are considered as ‘Hardy’ and some are considered ‘Tender’. In theory, with our climate in the UK, all the varieties would survive a mild-normal winter as even the ‘tender’ varieties are hardy to -12 degrees celsius.
Zantedeschia Aethiopica is truly hardy and will survive temperatures down to a chilly -25 degrees! It can even be planted in baskets and submerged up to 30cm deep for planting in and around a pond or water feature, a marvellously versatile plant.
If you are worried about a particularly cold frost or live in a very exposed location you can always add some winter protection like mulch or lift the tubers and store them over winter in a dry, cool and dark environment. They can then be replanted in spring.
The more tender Zantedeschia can be grown as a conservatory or house plant, as well as a patio plant. These tubers should be protected from the frost with deep winter mulch.
Some of our Favourites
A very popular variety for contemporary flower arrangements, exotic Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) Cantor boasts the deepest purple of any Calla, almost black. Gorgeous waxy spathes in deep aubergine-burgundy surround a matching spadix, giving a mysterious, unusual look. Height 60cm. Flowering May-October. Top size 16cm+ tubers supplied for exhibition quality flowers which last up to ten weeks.
The Calla Lipstick presents gentle cream spadices, surrounded by contrasting vivid pink spathes which fade to spring green at the floral chamber; where the magnificent flower head is held up by succulent tube-like stems. Broad, wavy foliage in a spring green adorn the base. Exhibition quality 16cm+ tubers supplied. Flowers May to October. Height 60cm.
Hardy Zantedeschia aethiopica is a wonderful, well known outdoor flowering Calla Lily that is sometimes also known fondly as the White Arum Lily. This premium variety looks superb grown in groups within the flower bed and border, or equally as effective planted and grown on the patio in pots or containers. Supplied as 12cm+ tubers, they are great for naturalising and multiplying to offer larger displays as the years progress. Calla Lily aethiopica will produce gorgeous summer white flowers from late May through to June, coupled with waxy green foliage.
How to Plant Callas
Planting Zantedeschia is an easy process – they like moist, well drained soil and not to be planted too deep (allow the tops of the tubers to be at ground level). Where possible plant them in a sunnier location as, being from native to Africa, they will really appreciate it.
Grow in humus rich soil, in full sun access. Plant the tubers shallow, so top of tubers are slightly exposed. Calla lilies can be cultivated indoors in loam based potting compost in full light. Water freely and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep just moist in winter.
One of the added bonuses of planting Calla Lilies in your garden or in patio pots are the absolutely stunning cut flowers they can produce. Each tuber will produce a number of stems as it flowers and this will increase as the tubers become established over the coming years. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise a friend / family member with a bunch of stunning flowers.
We recommend accompanying them with low-growing plants to provide filling foliage over the base areas and covering up those thin stems. Anything that provides fullness and has a shallow root system serves best as a Calla companion, such as New Guinea Impatiens, Astilbes or Hydrangeas.
Getting the most from your Tubers
Callas can be lifted after flowering so that you can store them throughout winter and plant again in spring. Simply dig them up at the end of their flowering time once they have died back, the best time for this is usually in autumn around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off soil and place the somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days, to allow them to really dry off. These can now be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.
Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can plant your Calla again and enjoy their beauty year after year!