White Calla Lilies

Tips on Growing White Calla Lilies

            If you have recently attended a wedding, it is likely that the flowers displayed were white calla lilies.  This flower is among the most beloved of all flowers by brides; exhibiting an elegance and beauty that rises above all other blooms.

            One of the most interesting facts about the flower is that it is neither a calla, nor a lily.  The scientific name is Zantedeschia, and there are 7 species of the plant in the world.  Calla lily is simply the common name for the plant, derived from lineage relating the Zantedeschia to the calla genus.

            The plant begins as a rhizome, which is simply a stem that grows underground parallel to the surface.   A number of growing points will emerge along the stem, creating new growth above ground as the plant matures.  Every few years, the plant should be dug, dividing the rhizome and replanting.  The rhizome should appear healthy, not withered or scarred.  To plant the rhizome, dig a hole no deeper than half the width of the stem.  For example, a rhizome that is around 1” wide should be planted only ½” deep in the soil.  When planting numerous rhizomes, space them at least 10” apart to allow the white calla lilies the opportunity to expand.   Early spring or early fall are the best times for planting the rhizomes.

            These plants are an extremely hardy perennial, and will grow in most any type of soil in areas that are not overly dry.  The location chosen should have good drainage, as they cannot survive in continually wet conditions.  It should also be a site with good sun exposure; either full sun or at least bright light throughout the day.  Locate the “eyes” or growing points on the rhizome, and place the rhizome into the prepared area with the eyes looking toward the heavens.  Water well; a humid condition will encourage fast growth of both roots and stems. The stem will emerge and grow erect, with rather large green leaves branching out to the sides.  The bloom itself will appear at the top of the thick stem; opening to reveal a furled flower.  The blossoms are generally a solid color, but may also have lighter colored blushes along the lower region of the flower.

            White calla lilies are extremely popular, but other equally as beautiful colors are available.  Yellow, pink, flame, peach, lavender, orange and more including spotted varieties will provide bright splashes of color to your garden, and will also exhibit a dramatic and colorful display of cut flowers in the home.

            Using the calla lily as a cut flower has long been a preferred method of enjoying the lovely blooms.  One reason is that they last an extraordinary long time in the vase; keeping their color and majestic appearance for up to four weeks when treated properly.  When harvesting your blooms, use a very sharp knife to avoid crushing the stem’s cell walls.  Slice down on an angle, producing a pointed end that will enable the stem to absorb the maximum amount of water to hydrate the flower.

            Handle the fresh cut flowers as little as possible; especially the flower heads.  Adding flower food to the water is the best course; however, if none is possible, simply add a few teaspoons of a soda such as Sprite or 7-Up to the water.  The citric acid contained in these products can imitate the acid found in commercial plant foods.  A climate of room temperature or below is the final condition that will help the flowers last the longest.

            Growing your own white calla lilies can provide you with a season long supply of this popular flower for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them.  While their beauty is coveted for events such as wedding displays, they are equally as lovely displayed in your own home.