The Calla Lily (Zantedeschia Aethiopica) Care Guide


The Calla Lily, otherwise known as the Zantedeschia Aethiopica or Arum Lily, African Lily, Altar Lily, Egyptian Lily, Lily of the Nile, Richardia, Trumpet Lily, White Arum Lily, Brosimum aethiopica, Calla aethiopica, is a well-known bulb plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and fast growth, this bulb will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its dark green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Calla Lily Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Calla Lily can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Calla Lily needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.
  • Light: Keep your Zantedeschia Aethiopica in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Calla Lily in soil with poorly draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of loam and clay.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Calla Lily this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Calla Lily belongs to the Araceae family, the genus Zantedeschia and the species Aethiopica, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Zantedeschia Aethiopica.

As with other Zantedeschia’s, the Calla Lily is a herbaceous plant, which means it will die back to the ground every year. 

Growing Region

The Calla Lily is a plant native to the South Africa, Native to southern Africa in Lesotho and and Swazilan.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Calla Lily is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Zantedeschia Aethiopica will be most used to the heat zones in the 4 – 10 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a and the ideal climate zone is between 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2.

Growth and Size

Growth

In terms of size and growth, the Calla Lily is a relatively fast grower, which makes things tricky for any plant enthusiast.

Size

But, what size of Calla Lily are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Zantedeschia Aethiopica can grow up to 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) in 2′ – 3′ (60cm – 90cm) and 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm). 

These dimensions make the Calla Lily a relatively medium bulb compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 12″ (30cm) free so the Calla Lily can spread to its best extent.

Watering

In terms of watering, the Calla Lily is a fairly complicated plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Zantedeschia Aethiopica needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Calla Lily in soil with poorly draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has moist properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Calla Lily is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Calla Lily prefers to have soil with moist properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of loam and clay.

This is why most experts agree that the Calla Lily requires soil with clay, high organic matter, and loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Placement

In terms of light & exposure, the Calla Lily requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions

Most experts agree that this bulb will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Zantedeschia Aethiopica in from little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to dappled or moderate shade (under other plant’s canopy), to full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).

Season

Being a herbaceous plant, the Calla Lily will die back to the ground every year. However, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (late), and during the summer (early).

Flowers

You can expect your Calla Lily to flower around the spring, summer and the fall months from April to June (spring), from July to September (summer), and from October to December (fall). In particular, this bulb is well known for its flowers for cutting and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Calla Lily produces some beautiful white flowers around this time of year.

Foliage

The leaves from the Calla Lily have a beautiful dark green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Zantedeschia Aethiopica to be around (> 6 inches) in size.

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Calla Lily is well known for its tolerance to wet soil, clay soil and animals like rabbit and deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Zantedeschia Aethiopica will be fine.

Garden

How should you then organize your garden to include your new Calla Lily? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Zantedeschia Aethiopica owners agree that this bulb will look great in most cottage gardens of all types. Other owners consider that they compliment well most gardens of informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Calla Lily’s best location within your garden is in patio and containers, beds and borders, and in ponds and streams, others use it for landscaping in a container, or a cutting garden.

Conclusion

So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Calla Lily in your garden or home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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