Calla Lily

Despite the funereal connotations of the white Calla Lily this spectacular flower should find a home in almost every Florida garden. Callas have long-petioled, basal leaves arising from a thick rhizome. The inflorescence, on a leafless flower stalk, consists of a spathe and spadix. The spathe, a large, flaring, trumpet-shaped bract, surrounds the spadix which is covered with tiny flowers. The Calla is native to South Africa. Of the family Araceae it is cultivated for its beautiful and colorful flowers.

The waxy white blooms and spear-headed leaves of the calla lily began to appeal to American artists shortly after the exotic plant was first imported from South Africa to America in the mid-nineteenth century. In the early twentieth century, the calla lily began to enjoy a heightened popularity, and particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, when dozens of painters and photographers of varying reputations and approaches to image-making made it the subject of their work.

  • Callas are known as the trumpet lily as a reminder of the Archangel Gabriel and his trumpet
  • Callas aren’t lilies
  • The word calla comes from the Greek term for beautiful
  • White was once the most popular color for callas, now there are many colors available including multicolored
  • Callas are very popular for weddings

Plant Facts:

Common Name:  Arum Lily, Calla Lily, Pig Lily

Botanical Name:   Zantedeschia

Family:  Araceae

Plant Type:  Large perennial herb from rhizome. Has long-petioled, basal leaves arising from a thick rhizome

Origin: South Africa

Zones: 8 – 11

Height:  1 1/2′ to 4′

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Low

Soil Requirements:  Rich, moist, but well-drained soil

Water Requirements: Requires regular watering

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade

Form:  Clump forming herb

Leaves:  1 1/2′ long, rich green. Plants become dormant in winter — leaves may die back to the ground, but no need to lift “bulbs” in Florida

Flowers: White, yellow, pink, purple, orange and variations — blooms spring and summer


Pests or diseases:  Tolerant of most pests and diseases

Uses:  Cut flowers, can be used in beds, low borders, patio pots or planters, also as indoor house plants

Bad Habits: Foliage damaged by frost, but recovers rapidly

Cost:  $$ — Very reasonable

Propagation:  Division recommended, Z. aethiopica best propagated by seed