(Species:  Zantedeschia - Family: Araceae)


Zantedeschia and its origins

Originating in Africa and South America, Zantedeschia arrived in Europe in the mid-eighteenth century.  It is divided into two main categories:

  • Arum Lilies – a hardy outdoor variety with white flowers
  • Calla Lilies – a tender variety with white leaves and beautiful flowers


Although neither the Arum nor the Calla are technically lilies, nor part of the lily family, they are commonly known as lilies.  The genus is named after the Italian botanist, Giovanni Zantedeschi.


Zantedeschia multiplies easily by rhizome offsets and as a result, will naturalise in an area, in a short space of time, once fed and watered, and quickly becomes classed as a weed. 


Seasonality: Zantedeschia in flower

Flowering from spring right through to summer, the large, showy Zantedeschia flowers have a characteristic shape which is called a spathe – the funnel-shaped bloom which contains a spadix - the yellow, finger-like centre spike that is covered in tiny little flowers. 


Calla or Arum lilies tend to be whites, yellows and pinks; they are often cultivated to be cut-flowers and commonly used in spectacular florist bouquets or bridal bouquets. 

This plant reaches up to 1m in height, even the long, rich, green leaves, which are shaped like arrowheads can reach up to 45cm.   


How to Plant: Zantedeschia

What to do for best results, what months, what soil, what water, what light, is it easy

Zantedeschia is a semi-aquatic plant and requires high levels of humidity to flourish.  For early flowering blooms that grow at the start of spring, plant in December but for all others, plant in February and March, as they are easily blighted by frost.


Once planted, the rhizomes should be kept cool, light place.  Calla Lilies thrive in the shade or partial shade and away from direct sunlight or extremes in temperature.  Ideally, they should be fed regularly with fertiliser and soil should be kept moist but ensure that it doesn’t become water logged.


The soil should be a well-draining soil that is rich in humus; peat moss can also be added before planting.  The rhizomes should be placed deep into the soil and watered regularly until flowering begins.  Once fed and watered correctly, both arum and calla lilies are relatively easy to grow.


Propagation of Zantedeschia

Propagation of Zantedeschia takes place by division in the springtime.  Ideally, before much growth has taken place.  Remove the rhizome and divide it, ensuring that there is a viable bud on the divided section.  The rhizomes are then replanted and flowering will take place two years later.