How to Grow Calla Lily — Zantedeschia

Sharing is caring!

Zantedeschia–commonly called Calla Lily–is a tender perennial with large, arrow-shaped dark green leaves. In summer, it produces white petal-like spathes, each with a yellow spike or spadix in the center. The spathes of cultivars can be pink, yellow, and red-orange.

Zantedeschia are true lilies; true lilies belonging to the genus Lilium. There are six species in the genus Zantedeschia. They are sometimes called arum lilies; they are more closely related to Arisaema, Jack-in-the-pulpits, and caladiums. Calla lilies grow from rhizomes.

Zantedeschia prefers moist soil. They grow best on the margins of ponds and near bogs. They will give a tropical look to beds and borders and grow well in containers. In cold winter regions, they should be grown indoors in winter.

Zantedeschia is a genus of 6 species of perennials with tuberous rhizomes native to moist soils in southern and East Africa.

Zantedeschia hybrid
Zantedeschia hybrid

Get to know Zantedeschia

  • Plant type: Tender spring- or summer-blooming bulb
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 3 to 11; grow as an annual in Zones 2-7, as a perennial in Zones 8-11
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 18 inches to 4 feet (45cm-1.2m) tall, 10 to 24 inches (25-61cm) wide
  • Flowers: Commonly white, some are yellow
  • Bloom time: Spring and summer
  • Uses: Cut flower, damp and wet soil, the edge of ponds
  • Common name: Calla Lily
  • Botanical name: Zantedeschia aethiopica
  • Family name: Araceae
  • Origin: Southern and eastern Africa

Where to plant Zantedeschia

  • Plant Zantedeschia in full sun to light shade. Plant in light shade especially in hot-summer regions of Zones 8-11.
  • Grow Zantedeschia in average to humus-rich, moist soil.
  • Zantedeschia aethiopica will grow in boggy soil and standing water up to 12 inches (30cm) deep.
  • Where Zantedeschia are marginally hardy plant them in a protected location.
  • Zantedeschia prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0.
Calla lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica
Calla lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica

When to plant Zantedeschia

  • In Zones 2-7, plant Zantedeschia in containers in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plants can be started indoors in late winter or early spring and moved to the garden after all danger of frost is past.
  • In Zones 8-11, plant Zantedeschia outdoors in containers or the ground after all danger of frost has passed.

Planting and spacing Zantedeschia

  • Space Zantedeschia 10 to 24 inches (25-61cm) apart.
  • Plant cZantedeschia bulbs 4 inches (10cm) deep.

How to water and feed Zantedeschia

  • Zantedeschia want abundant water; keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Zantedeschia once or twice during the growing and bloom season.
  • Feed container-grown plants every 2 weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
Pink Calla lily flower, Zantedeschia rehmannii
Pink Calla lily flower, Zantedeschia rehmannii

Zantedeschia care

  • Mulch around Zantedeschia to conserve soil moisture.
  • Where Zantedeschia are marginally hardy, mulch they heavily in fall with evergreen boughs or coarse mulch such as salt hay or pine needles.
  • In autumn in Zones 2-7, store potted Zantedeschia in a garage or cool basement.
  • To overwinter rhizomes, dig them in early fall, dry them off and store then in dry peat in a cool (50°-55°F/10°-12.8°C), dry, airy place
  • Plants can be kept in containers year-round if brought indoors in cold-winter regions.

Growing Zantedeschia as a houseplant

  • Grow Zantedeschia where light is bright and humidity is average.
  • The medium should be soilless, rich, well-drained, and constantly moist.
  • Fertilize monthly aft the flowers appear.
  • After the plant has finished flowering, all the medium to dry out between waterings for several months to give the plant a rest.
  • Zantedeschia may be allowed to go completely dormant in summer; if you want the plant to continue to grow, place it in bright light.

Zantedeschia common problems

  • Zantedeschia are prone to leaf spot and attacks by slugs and snails.
  • Rhizome rot, bacterial soft rot, gray mold, and rust can strike calla lilies.

Zantedeschia propagation

  • Zantedeschia will often naturalize.
  • Divide rhizomes in spring.
  • Remove and replant offsets in fall or spring.
Pink calla lilies

Zantedeschia varieties to grow

  • Zantedeschia aethiopica, calla lily: grows 2 to 3 feet tall (.6-.9m); bears glossy 16-inch-long arrowhead-shaped leaves; produces white 4 to 10-inch (10-25cm) spathes surround a yellow spadix; grow outdoors in Zones 8 to 11.
  • Z. albomaculata, spotted calla: grows 12 to 16 inches (30-40cm) tall; arrow-shaped leaves to 18 inches (45cm); flowers with 5-inch (12cm) white spathes.
  • Z. elliottiana, golden calla, yellow calla: 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) tall with green leaves spotted white; bears 6-inch (15cm) long yellow spathes with yellow spadix; grow outdoors in Zones 9-11.
  • Z. hybrids: several hybrids: hybrids many with Z. elliottiana as parent; cultivars include ‘Cameo’ and ‘Pacific Pink’ with pink blooms, ‘Golden Affair’ with bright yellow spathes, and ‘Mango’ with red-orange spathes.
  • Z. pentlandii, formerly Z. angustiloba: grows 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) tall; bears bright gold to lemon yellow 5-inch long spathes with purple inside the base and yellow spadix.
  • Z. rehmannii, pink calla: grows 12 to 16 inches (30-40cm) tall; bears pink, white, or purple 5-inch (12cm) spathes and yellow spadix.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

How to Grow Society Garlic – Tuhlbaghia

How to Grow Campsis — Trumpet Vine