Neither a calla nor a lily, the calla lily—which grows 24 to 36 inches tall—is part of the Jack-in-the-pulpit family. Its trumpet-shape flowers and arrowhead-shape leaves rise directly from rhizomes—no stems needed. This plant helps stretch out the color show in your backyard. When early summer perennials begin to fade, these plants stand ready to unfurl their blossoms in hues that include white, yellow, pink, red, orange, and purple. Worth noting: In the language of flowers, white calla lilies stand for marital bliss and true devotion—which may be why brides use them for everything from their wedding bouquet to table arrangements. Also an expression of sympathy, calla lilies often make appearances at funerals.
Garden Plans For Calla
Calla Lily Care Must-Haves
Calla lilies grow best in rich, organic moist soil with full sun to part shade. Wait until frost is done for the year, then plant the rhizomes 3 to 4 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. (They also like boggy soil, which is why they grow well near streams and ponds.) Once planted, water the soil well. The plants will appreciate monthly doses of fertilizer during the growing season. In frost-free climates, calla lilies act like perennials and come back year after year. In cold climates, they should be treated as tender bulbs that can be dug up in fall after the foliage fades, stored over the winter, then planted again the following spring.
As long as they live next to sunny windows, calla lilies make great houseplants. Use a commercial potting mix when planting them in containers for growing inside, then keep the soil uniformly moist until the plants bloom. Allow plants to dry out slightly after flowering and then resume watering and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer to spur another round of blossoms.
Great Garden Uses
Think of calla lilies as social plants; they need several other calla lilies nearby to put on a good show. Plant them in large groups of at least 5—more is even better. The bulb's upright green foliage forms a perfect backdrop for the exquisite flowers. Plant a cluster of these flowers in a landscape bed alongside dahlias or black-eyed Susans for a colorful summer show. Or plant a long row of calla lilies to use as cut flowers that last a week or more in a vase. When designing a cutting garden, plant several different varieties for an explosion of summer color.
Calla lilies are a favorite plant of pollinators, which is why you may want to grow them in patio containers. (Don't worry about attracting Bambi to your house; these plants are deer-resistant.) Pair the plants with coleus and asparagus fern for a summer-long display of color and texture.
Breeders have developed cultivars with longer bloom times. These plants send up new flower spikes for weeks, offering long-lasting floral beauty to gardens and interior rooms.