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Plant Profile: Calla Lily (Zantedeschia hybrids)

Calla lilies are exotic plants that are native to southern areas of Africa and are not lilies at all. They are in the same family as Jack-in-the Pulpits, with a spathe and spadix. The spathe looks like a trumpet-shaped folded petal but is actually a modified leaf and may be fleshy. The spadix is a stiff upright structure, usually yellow, on which the actual flowers are borne. The leaves are attractive also, and are green with lighter-colored spots. The most common kind is white and quite tall (36”) but more modern hybrids are smaller and come in a large variety of colors. The plants are beautiful in the garden, but unfortunately are not hardy in most areas and must be dug, saved, and replanted in the spring or grown as houseplants. Calla lilies are good in containers and beautiful as a cut flower especially esteemed in wedding bouquets. This is one bulb that actually likes moist soil.

Type: Tender bulb (actually a rhizome).

Bloom: Spathe and spadix florescence with spadix usually yellow and spathe in shades of white, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink, lavender, purple or rust. One rhizome may produce up over 12 blooms, 5” by 2-3” mid to late summer.

Foliage: Arrow shaped green leaves often with light color spots.

Size: 15-24” H.

Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade but bloom will be less.

Soil: Fertile, moist.

Fertilizer: Fertilize in spring with a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 5-10-10.

Hardiness: Zones 8-10.

Care: Plant rhizomes 6” deep 1-2’ apart and water thoroughly; after frost has killed the foliage dig up rhizomes, dry for a few days, and then store in paper bags or cardboard boxes filled with vermiculite, peat moss, or perlite in a cool place (50-60F).

Pests and Diseases: None of significance.

Propagation: Division (seed possible but more laborious).

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