Calla - Araceae - How to care for and grow Calla plants

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The genre Zantedeschia, known as calla, includes a plants native to the swamps of South Africa where they grow spontaneously especially in the areas between the equator and Cape of Good Hope. It is a very cultivated plant especially to be used as a cut flower.

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: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Zantedeschia, known as calla, belongs to the family Araceae and includes numerous species native to the marshes of southern Africa where they grow spontaneously especially in the areas between the equator and Cape of Good Hope. It is a perennial herbaceous plant and has different particularities.

Their particularity is the lack of stem , in fact, they grow directly from an underground rhizomas (perennial stem, mostly underground and functioning as a reserve organ similar to a root provided with buds in the upper part and roots in the lower part) which represents the root of the plant and is also the organ of multiplication. From the rhizome the leaves which can be lanceolate, sagittate, ovate or heart-shaped with wavy margins, very large, green or variously prized.

What is normally called flower that is to say the colored funnel-shaped part that we love so much, in reality they are SPATAS that is to say the bracts that are modified leaves that wrap the flowers and inflorescences to protect them can be of various colors (white, cream, pink, etc.), widened towards the end and ending with a tip curved downwards. The flower (which is an inflorescence) is actually the rod that we see in the center of the spathe which is called SPADICE which carries the female flowers in the lower part and the male flowers in the upper part.

The calle can reach up to one and a half meters in height.

THE fruits they are berries.

It is widely cultivated, especially in Liguria (Italy) to be used as a cut flower.


There are numerous species that differ from each other in being early or late flowering:



There Zantedeschia aethipica it is the white calla that we are used to seeing and that we see most frequently.It can reach a height of one meter and is characterized by dark green leaves, even 50 cm long and 25 cm wide, carried by very long and fleshy petioles that grow like a tuft. The flowering stem appears at the end of winter and forms a cream-white spatula up to 25 cm long at its top, which wraps the yellow-colored spadix.

The most beautiful hybrids are: small 'Apple Court Babe'; 'GreenGoddess' with a bright green spathe and white center; 'Little Gem' dwarf hybrid and very floriferous; 'Crowborough' with very long spades and many others.


There Zantedeschia Schwarzwalder it has a blue, almost black flower surrounded by white flecked leaves.



There Zantedeschia albomaculata is a rhizomatous perennial species. The leaves are grouped in bunches that reach the length of about 50 cm with small silver-white spots. The flowers are white or cream colored and with a dark red throat that wraps the spadix.


There Zantedeschia elliottiana it is a rhizomatous perennial species, with leaves up to 45 cm long and streaked with white and flowers, 10 cm long, are provided with a golden yellow spathe that wraps the intense yellow spadix.

It blooms between May and June. It blooms between May and June.


There Zantedeschia rehmanii it is a perennial species with summer flowering conpata of pink or red color that wraps the yellow spadix.


EARLY FLOWERING SPECIES: they must be kept at temperatures around 15 ° C between February and May, the months in which it blooms. In the other periods it must stay at even lower temperatures, around 10 ° C.

LATE FLOWERING SPECIES (ie between March and October): they must be kept at higher temperatures around 20 ° C.

All species love light but not direct sun.

After flowering all the different calla species, whether they are early or late flowering, require a rest period during which all activities are reduced to a minimum. During this period it is necessary to water just enough time, not to let the soil dry out and not to fertilize it. This for about three months from the moment the last flower falls.

After flowering and after the flower has been fertilized and the plant is preparing to form the fruit and seeds, the spadix turns green again and gradually the stem also withers and dies.


The general principle of watering for calla lilies is the same for both early flowering and late flowering species:

  • during the period in which it is devoid of flowers because they wither and the leaves begin to turn yellow (June-January for the early species and October - February for the late species) the plants should be watered very little, just long enough not to let the soil dry out;
  • in the periods in which the growth of leaves and flowers begins (February-May for the early species and April-October for the late species) it must be resumed and watered gradually and then abundantly irrigated during flowering.

The calla lilies love humid environments therefore it is good practice to spray the leaves with non-calcareous water, making sure not to wet the flowers that could get stained.


The early flowering calla species are repotted in late August-early September while the late flowering ones are repotted in February placing the rhizomes at a depth of about 10 cm.

A fertile soil is used to which it is advisable to add a little peat.


The fertilization of the calla lilies begins when the flower buds appear. A liquid fertilizer is administered, suitably diluted in the irrigation water, every 10 - 1 During the remaining months of the year the fertilizations must be suspended. Therefore fertilization is concentrated in practice for a few months a year: from February to June for the early species and from April to October for the late species. Since this is the flowering period, it will be important to administer a fertilizer that has a higher title in potassium, vital for the development of the flowers, favoring the regeneration of the reserve tissues of the plant and to a slightly lesser extent the phosphorus important for the development of the flowers and even less so. 'nitrogen. Make sure that in addition to having nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and that among these potassium and phosphorus are in greater quantities that they also have microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), boron (B), zinc (Zn), magnesium (Mg), molybdenum (Mo), all important for proper growth.

A tip: slightly reduce the doses compared to those reported in the package as they are always oversized. as they are always oversized.


The EARLY FLOWERING species bloom between February and May while the LATE FLOWERING species bloom between March and October.


Calla lilies are usually not pruned. It is simply necessary to eliminate the leaves that gradually dry up to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

Remember to use a clean and disinfected tool (preferably with flame or bleach or with alcohol) to avoid infecting the tissues.


It multiplies by division of the rhizomes.


Usually the calla multiplies at the time of repotting, which coincides for early flowering species with the end of August - beginning of September while for those with late flowering in February, taking the rhizomes and placing them at a depth of about 10 cm. whole or divide it into several parts each of which must have at least two shoots. The cut surfaces must be treated with sulfur-based broad-spectrum fungicide products, then they are allowed to dry for a couple of days.

The shoots are planted in small pots (diameter not exceeding 10 cm) to a depth of about 10 cm with a soil formed by fertile earth and peat. Invaded thus prepared, it is placed in a warm environment with temperatures around 20-25 ° C and rarely watered.

We realize that everything has gone well as new shoots will start to sprout. When they have reached a height of at least 20 cm, you can repot into a larger pot with the same soil used for adult plants and treat them as such.


The leaves lose color and appearance

If your calla has these characteristics it means that the soil is too dry.
Remedies: arrange to regulate the watering. Remedies: arrange to regulate the watering

The leaves have burnt parts

It depends on direct sun exposure which can be aggravated if the leaves are wet as the drops of water work like lenses.

Remedies: move the plant to a position where it receives light but not direct sun.

Spots on the underside of the leaves

Mealy bugs and mealy bugs in particular can infest this plant. It manifests itself through spots on the underside of the leaves and if observed carefully you will see small flocky formations that resemble small cotton balls. If you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: eliminate them with a piece of cotton soaked in denatured alcohol or you can wash the plant with water and neutral soap, rubbing gently with a sponge (then remember to rinse). If the infestation is severe, specific pesticides can be used. use specific pesticides.

The leaves begin to turn yellow and have small yellow spots

This is the classic symptom of a probable infestation by the spider mite, a very harmful mite if neglected. If you look carefully with the help of a magnifying glass you will notice small red dots that move with four pairs of legs and you will also notice, especially on the underside of the leaves, some thin cobwebs.

Remedies: it is necessary to maintain a humid environment around the foliage as the lack of humidity favors their proliferation. If the infection is particularly severe, intervene immediately with specific acaricides.

Small animals on all the green parts

They are plants that can be easily infested with lice which are nothing more than aphids, annoying insects.

Remedies: use specific pesticides.


The calla appeared in Europe for the first time in 1731 and the name Zantedeschiait owes it to the Italian botanist Francesco Zantedeschi (1773-1846) to whom it was dedicated.In reality, however, this plant is known all over the world with the name of Greek calladal kalos «beautiful". Before changing its name it was known by the name of Richardia.

We remember that they are toxic plants in all their parts.


See: "The language of flowers and plants".


«This flower represents in my“ artistic language ”an original, delicate, passionate and at the same time decisive femininity. It reflects the character of some women I have known, tenacious restless and with a personality that can almost be placed in different situations, which are repeated over time, a bit like in the works of "Tamara De Lempicka", a sophisticated woman and artist, who managed to represent femininity without terms of place and time. A perfect combination of the simple and the sophisticated. ”Work and thoughts by Elisa Caserini

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