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The Calla Lily: summer bulb of the year

The Calla Lily has been named the summer bulb of 2015. But this is no wonder when you consider that 'calla' means 'beautiful' in Greek. Its many colours and elegant shapes make it a beauty in the garden and on the patio.

Calla Lily, Zantedeschia, Arum Lily?

Many are acquainted with the Calla Lily as Zantedeschia, the Latin name for this bulb. The story goes that the plant was first described in the 18th century by a botanist by the name of Giovanni Zantedeschi after whom the bulb was named. Some people know the Calla Lily by another name: the Arum Lily. This name comes from the Biblical character, Aaron, the brother of Moses. Aaron was a priest who carried a staff decorated with calla lily flowers and leaves.

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A good luck charm

The elegantly shaped Calla Lily is also known as a real good luck charm. This symbolism dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who associated its flowers with celebrations and enjoyment. The flowers are trumpet-shaped spathes that can be of various colours including yellow, white, red, purple, pink, black, and orange. Some even have two colours. The leaves of the Calla Lily are either green all over or green with speckles and are shaped like a spear.

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A little blanket of mulch

Some calla lilies such as Calla aethiopica and Calla ‘Pink Mist’ can easily tolerate freezing temperatures. Although the foliage of these plants will die back during the winter, they will survive even without any protection and will emerge in the spring as if nothing had happened. But most calla lilies will need a little blanket of mulch during the winter in order to survive the most severe frost. Straw can be used for this purpose.

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Plant after the danger of frost has passed


When the tubers or rhizomes are planted, they have few if any roots. This means that they will not be able to tolerate cold until after their flowering season. Because there is little chance of frost as May begins, calla lilies can be planted as early as this. Calla lilies will flower between July and October for three to eight weeks. Their flowering period depends on the temperature, amount of light and the variety. Calla lilies can produce stems from thirty to ninety centimetres in height.

Tip: Calla lilies look wonderful in a pot on the patio. 

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