Aeromatic Calla Lily, Aethiopica – 1 bulb

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Quick Overview

Zantedeschia aethiopica

FULL SUN Native to South Africa, Calla Lilies are a relatively recent introduction to American and European gardens having reached the two continents in the late 1800s. Aethiopica has a pure white flower (spathe) rarely seen in the home garden. The plant is stunning. The plants reach a height of 18-24 in.

In Hardiness Zones 4-8, start roots indoors in March-April and transplant outside when the nighttime temperatures reach 55 degrees. In Hardiness Zones 9 and higher, roots can be started outside when the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. Plant the roots in organically rich soil amended with bone meal. Keep the soil moist, but do not allow the roots to stand in water. Callas thrive in containers – 1 root per 8 in. diameter pot.

In Zones 4-7, the roots need to be lifted when the nighttime temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Roots should be stored in a cool, dry, dark area. In Zones 8 and higher, roots can be left in the ground after the plant dies back, if heavily mulched.

Type Spacing Planting Depth Days to Germination Maturity
Calla 8-10 in. 2 in. 14-21 60

Aeromatic Calla Lily, Aethiopica

Since before the Romans conquered the known world, Calla Lilies have been a revered flower, a flower of celebration and a universal symbol of purity. In Roman times, the Calla marked the passage of the Winter Solstice (December 21st) because it often bloomed around that time. In the doorways of their homes, the Romans planted Callas. The larger the Calla display – the wealthier you were. A blooming Calla symbolized “bringing the light indoors” on the darkest day of the year. Callas, in Roman times, were much larger and could reach a height of 7 feet. The wealthy would decorate the edge of the Calla bloom with gold leaf to enhance the beauty and create more brilliance.

Callas are not members of the Lily Family. They are Arums and as such are closely related to philodendrons, caladiums and, believe it or not, Skunk Cabbage. Thankfully they do not possess the stench that is associated with their cousins, the Skunk Cabbages. Callas were named after the Italian physician and botanist, Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773-1846). The aethiopia term means south of Egypt and Libya – a reference to the Calla’s native habitat in South Africa.

Callas were introduced into Europe by the Romans, but because of their fragile tropical nature were not widely known. An early reference to the Calla from a French discussion of gardens in Paris occurred in 1664. The Calla became popular in the late 1800s with the advent of greenhouses and conservatories. The plant was grown for its beauty and botanical interest in such facilities.
The Calla ‘flower’ is really an ornamental leaf, similar to a flower petal and known as a ‘spathe’. This spathe surrounds the nondescript spike which is the true Calla flower. Today Callas bloom in white, orange, red, pink, magenta, yellow and black. Some are hardy in the area of the Oregon coast, but most are true tropical and should be grown as annuals or houseplants.

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