Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 267 Zantedeschia aethiopica

Common Names: calla lily Family: Araceae (arum Family)
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calla lily
This is the famous purple calla lily called 'Anneke'. The color is variable depending on light and growing conditions (in bright light the color is deep purple while those grown in shadier siturations may be pale pink).


Calla lilies (they are not true lilies) are tuberous rooted, clump forming herbaceous plants with large arrow shaped leaves. Most forms average around 2 ft (60 cm) in height. The flower consists of a brightly colored spathe surrounding a yellow spadix. Pink and yellow varieties of Zantedeschia are available. Golden calla (Z. elliottiana), has elongated oval shaped leaves, dotted with small white splotches, and bright, gleaming golden yellow spathes. There are six species and numerous hybrids and cultivars of calla lilies. All are strikingly beautiful, and even when not in flower, the large, tropical looking, spear shaped leaves make a lush statement, like bananas, cannas or ginger.

calla lilies
Jack planted 2 golden callas, a purple 'Anneke' and a white calla together in a 10 inch pot. Here they are at their peak in early summer - actually the white calla has aged to green (at center).


The genus Zantedeschia occurs naturally in southern and eastern Africa, where the six species grow along lakes and in wetlands.


Callas are grown as perennials outdoors. They favor rich, organic soil with plenty of leaf mold, rotted manure, and humus. Callas will often bloom twice a year, in late spring and again in fall. Callas can be grown as greenhouse plants, too. They can also be planted outdoors in summer in northern temperate regions, then the bulb lifted and allowed to rest for a couple of months, and planted again inside and used through the winter as a house plant. Light: Provide full sun to light shade. In hot climates, callas benefit from afternoon or shifting shade. Moisture: Callas like a moist soil. Zantedeschia aethiopica can even be grown in shallow water. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10. Propagation: Propagate by division of the clumps.


The leaves and spathes of callas are long lasting in floral arrangements. Outdoors as a perennial, callas look great alongside cannas, interspersed with ferns and hostas, or near a water feature. Callas are often grown as house plants.

calla lilies
Golden calla (Z. elliottiana) is a robust grower and easy to grow in containers.


The large, showy spathes and lush foliage of calla lilies make them perennial favorites, indoors or out.


All parts of calla lilies are poisonous if ingested and contact with the sap may irritate sensitive skin.

Steve Christman 12/09/97; updated 06/22/06, 11/3/07

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Zantedeschia species profiled on Floridata:

Zantedeschia aethiopica

( calla lily )

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