Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Calla Lily, Arum Lily
Zantedeschia aethiopica

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Zantedeschia (zan-te-DES-kee-uh) (Info)
Species: aethiopica (ee-thee-OH-pik-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Calla aethiopica
Synonym:Richardia africana
Synonym:Calla moschata

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

43 members have or want this plant for trade.

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36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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32 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive goldandsylvan On Feb 13, 2014, goldandsylvan from Ukiah, CA wrote:

I have callas in two places: one at the coast and the other in the warmer, drier, inland area of California, and it is clear they like the coastal weather and conditions better. At the coast they receive no watering, but the water table is high, so in the winter they grow to be quite tall, and in the early spring and summer bloom prolifically. They don't die back, but don't bloom in the dead of winter, either. They also multiply, by seed, but I don't consider them a problem. Inland they tend to bloom scantily and go dormant early. Given mostly shade and water they will survive and even thrive, but will never do nearly as well as at the coast. It''s weird that people mention problems with snails because I have never had that happen to mine.As far as I can tell, nothing eats them!

Positive realityfaery On Oct 22, 2013, realityfaery from Delano, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

By far my favorite flower! I have the original white Calla, as well as a few of the colored varities.

Each spring through the fall I get lovely bushes of the white Calla with large blooms in the summer. They are highly invasive and they love the Central Valley weather. Since getting them about 6 years ago, I have dug up the tubers to separate them and plant in different areas. Once transplanting, they easily take off in the new spot as well. They are no fuss as long as you keep them watered and in a sunny spot.

Positive Work1ders On Oct 6, 2012, Work1ders from Glassport, PA wrote:

Have the Zantadeschia (Hercules) variety. It has not gotten quite as big as it was ticketed (10 ft); but for it's first season in ground, has grown about 4 ft. Kinda cool here in Glassport, PA, yet, to my surprise, it has shot up a very thick cream colored spathe. Maybe next year it'll be as tall. We'll see.

Positive stephenp On Jul 12, 2012, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

A vigorous grower in the UK and largely dependably hardy. In some year it will be cut back from cold, then re-emerge from the ground the next year, or it will stay evergreen through the year. Flowers easily here in the UK, and also with many flowers.

They can grow quite large if they stay evergreen, and spread around a bit too.

Positive Sandwichkatexan On Dec 8, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

Does very well here . Multiplies very slowly here I think our freezes and extreme summer heat keep it from becoming the pest it is in California , Took a trip to Monterey California and this was everywhere in dry streambeds on riverbanks and unattended open fields , It was quite a sight to see it naturalized so profusely . I count my blessing it is not an invasive thug here . Here it is a great tame garden gem .

Positive pastapicker On Nov 8, 2010, pastapicker from Columbus, OH wrote:

I have a mixed color selection that I got from one of the large mail order nurseries--white, pale pink, pale lavender--I have very successfully planted them out in my garden every summer; they get no more or less water than every other perennial out there and do fine (I only water the in-ground plants during periods of drought). I do lift these in late fall ,pot them up, and keep unwatered in the cool basement over the winter.

Edited to add: since I posted this comment I have just kept some in pots and taken them in, but the others I just left in ground over the winter and they survived and bloomed! I even had one clump that survived this past winter when temps reached -20F, even though some other perennials rated for this zone did not.

Positive pgcarroll On Mar 21, 2010, pgcarroll from Belleair, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful foliage, wonderful growth in a sometimes very wet area, but no blooms since we planted these three years ago. We tried them in several areas before settling in a mostly shady area on the edge of a drainage area for our downspouts. They seem very happy with vigorous growth and a deep green color, but I'm going to try the coffee grounds trick that some mention here on the site. We have very rich, "humusy" soil even though we're in Florida. Our entire yard is nothing but mulch and plants and we make our own humus from veggie/fruit scraps. Every time I dig, I find worms. Any other thoughts?

Positive Mordragon On Jan 23, 2010, Mordragon from Yuma, AZ wrote:

I have always loved the Calla's and while living in an area that bears extreme temperatures of 120 degrees, growing Calla's is a bit of a challenge. I have had great success growing these in large containers, pulling them into afternoon shade around June and forcing them into dormancy by mid-July, otherwise they will simply fry with extreme soil temperatures. Barely keeping the soil damp inside the house and then pulling them back outside in November seems to be the trick for a greater looking plant ever year. Blooms by February through May in hotter than hell Yuma, AZ. Dormancy seems to give this plant more health though it is said dormancy is not needed with the original Calla's. Through the growing period, they love consistently wet but well drained soil.

Positive DracoVolans On Jan 11, 2010, DracoVolans from Crestline, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This one I found growing as a "sport under the ficus bushes in my apartment building's atrium. As there are no other species planted around any of the other hedges, I figure it's an "erratic" that cropped up as a weed. :) There were several, so I took a couple of the bulbs (leaving the rest to grow happily were they are) to see how they would do in my container garden. I didn't know what it was, at first, but after digging here in the plant files, I'm pretty sure it's an Arum or Calla Lily. The biggest plant in the pot is now about two and half feet high, and I hope it will be mature enough to flower soon. :) Seems to be doing great: nice, big, healthy leaves, no spotting or holes, and they have no browning or other signs of illness. Big white or yellow flowers will be an awesome addition to my collection! If I'm even luckier, these might show up as a pink or even red, but I doubt it, as most of the large varieties of this species I've seen have had just white or yellow blooms. :)

Neutral Nana25 On Aug 23, 2009, Nana25 from Mason, OH wrote:

I love callas but I'm new to growing them. I bought 2 large callas in a pot from Lowes, repotted one and left the other in its original container. Neither bloomed after the original flowering, but the foliage has been beautiful for most of the summer, until they were infested by spider mites even though I kept them well watered. Any advice is appreciated.

Positive gsteinbe On Sep 25, 2008, gsteinbe from Trenton, NJ wrote:

POSTED IN SEPTEMBER 2008: I love Calla Lilies. I got a bunch of bulbs cheaply from Buggy Crazy. They were small to start, and I had initially intended to grow them permanently indoors, but the leaves kept falling over because the petioles would get so long -- 3-4 feet long from not getting enough sun through my house's scanty windows. So, I moved them this summer out into a kiddie wading pool on the mostly sunny deck of my backyard swimming pool, and they did great. Their leaves and stems got much more compact over time; they put up many more leaves (rather than one new leaf at a time as they did in the house); and they bloomed two or three blooms each (a good showing for bulbs that are still probably pretty young and small). We've had such a mild fall so far that I haven't started getting them ready to go dormant, and I can't decide what to do. According to what I've read, they can be kept going continuously without a period of dormancy because they're the actual species, not hybrids that are much touchier and need a dry dormancy period. And in fact, I've had them for at least two years and they didn't go dormant indoors at all in that time. But I don't want to bring them indoors this winter and have their stems get long and weak again. I'm also not sure I want to water them all winter (since I have 8 or 10 pots of them altogether, and they really do need pretty boggy conditions). I may leave half of them on my sun porch and see if they go dormant or stay green and growing all winter. The other half I'll dry out and let go dormant until spring.

UPDATE: IN SEPTEMBER 2009 My Calla Lilies stayed green on my sun porch all winter and bloomed beautifully in the spring. In the heat of summer, they died back a bit, but now that it's beginning to cool for fall, they're putting out lots of new growth again. The pots that I tried to dry out also stayed green all winter (and didn't go dormant), but they also bloomed in the spring and seem no different from the ones I kept watered. So, my experience is that the species does not need the same kind of dry rest period as hybrid Callas, and they don't even seem to go into dormancy when dry.

UPDATE IN APRIL 2012: For the past couple years, I've been letting the Calla Lilies dry out during the heat of summer. After blooming, they start looking ragged on their own from the high temps. If left unwatered, they go partially or, often, completely dormant. I keep them on a cool sun porch over fall and winter, and I water them and they come out of dormancy and eventually bloom (about now). Once their blooms fade and the summer begins heating up, I let them dry out and go dormant again. The cycle seems to work perfectly for them, and I like it too (not having to water them all summer). I think it reflects their natural cycle in their native habitat.

Positive girlndocs On May 23, 2008, girlndocs from Tacoma, WA wrote:

Was here when we moved in, still here, receives absolutely zero care from me. Once in a while frost nips the emerging tips, but it soon grows out of those scars.

It's nestled up against an east wall and enjoys part sun and plenty of moisture from an often-drippy hose spigot.

Contributes wonderful, lush bold tropicalesque foliage that's almost even better than the blooms.

Positive herbalmama On Apr 22, 2008, herbalmama from Poulsbo, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have had this plant a number of times in my small yard, here in Western Washington with varying degrees of success. My daughter planted one in a very shady area of the yard and it was doing fairly well, but I decided to move it in to my white garden where it received nearly full sun. It really took off. For about three years, I had this huge beautiful plant constantly putting out flowers. Then suddenly, after one winter it did not come back strongly. I probed the ground where the clump of culms were and found many of them mushy. I don't know if it was cold enough to freeze them that winter (I suspect this is the most logical reason) or if a disease got in to it.

I just left it alone and even though I've had a few leaves, it hasn't ever returned to its former glory. I am going to dig it up this year to see how the rhizomes look and clean out any mushy ones, to see what that does.

It does like to be moist and in my sandy soil, that has been challenging in the middle of summer. But, I also suspect it doesn't want wet feet all the time, which could cause rot (which in our rainy climate could also be the culprit in the demise of my huge planting).

Positive CoreHHI On Apr 12, 2008, CoreHHI from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

I don't know why plant files says full sun because my only flower in almost complete shade. Full sun will fry these guys in climate.

They do spread fast but not in the sun. I don't think they are problem to keep up with. Late fall just dig up the ones you don't want and give them away or throw them out. Simple as that.

Positive stumpenursery On Dec 31, 2007, stumpenursery from Florence, AL wrote:

I have this plant in white and pink, my white are blooming right now in my greenhousee. I only water once a week, no problems with bugs yet.

Positive Kenotia On May 2, 2007, Kenotia from Bedford, TX wrote:

I bought a small 1 gallon plant from Lowes late last winter and this beauty has already given me two blooms in 5 months, one right after the other. This plant survivs hail damage fairly well and enjoys the drenching it receives from the hefty Texas spring storms. Currently it's in a large container on a balcony with lots of indirect sunlight and a watering every other day.

The white variety is hardier, and will survive better than the colored types. They also seem to bounce back better from cold and damage.

The blooms can be cut in their prime and will generally survive in a vase for an extended period of time if you cut the stem a little more each day to prevent it from callousing over.

Positive Pashta On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant took me a long time to flower. I finally got the amount of moisture down right and it gave me 2 blooms. It is still shooting out leaves, so I keep watering it, hoping maybe it will pop out one more flower. I love these. I keep mine moist almost all the time, and water it from below out of a dish, instead of pouring water onto it. It seems to like that. It is in full sun.

Positive Suze_ On Apr 7, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

Even those these are listed as a full sun plant, they seem to do a bit better in part or dappled sun in my garden. They've been dependably hardy for me for several years, and have continued to multiply at a fairly good rate.

Positive pecandeb On Mar 27, 2006, pecandeb from Leesville, SC wrote:

I do not know if the variety I have is this one but I purchased the bulb about 5 years ago and it bloomed every other year in partial sun/shade, then I moved it 2 years ago and it now gets late hot afternoon sun, is planted under an older cedar tree with dry, sandy soil and it has performed beautifully for 2 seasons, about 2/1/2 to 3" tall and will take what I ever I give it.

Positive orchidfancy On Feb 20, 2006, orchidfancy from College Park, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

The calla lillies corm that I have came from France and were field grown . I grow them inside of the house at this point but this year I am going to do an experiment due of the fact that they are constantly producing new corms. I will plant 2 inside of a raised bed that has a south west exposure and that is relatively well protected from the elements in the winter. Also I will plant one close to my carolina jasmine and wait and see what happens. I have been able to grow crinum lillies for several years outside in a raised bed at my house in Cambridge on the Maryland eastern shore. Keeping in mind the the region that I got them from in France I dont see any reasons why they should not be able to grow in the Washington D.C. area with some protection . This again will be an experiment on my part. They will be planted outside as soon as the last frost date is passed. I will keep people informed with the progress .

Neutral FLtropics On Jun 18, 2005, FLtropics from Pompano Beach, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

My Calla Lilies has gotten a fungus that has been troublesome to get rid of. I dug them up and moved them to a pot for treatment. They were doing well until the rainy season began. I only water them once a week.

Positive ladyannne On May 3, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

We had to find an emergency location for the callas, so I popped it into one of our wine tub fountains. A year later, it is doing extremely well and has tripled in size!

Positive JaxFlaGardener On May 3, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

My Callas have taken a year or so to get established, during which time they did not bloom. I am now getting blooms on a regular basis. The plants are on the north side of my house where they receive about an hour of direct sun. I usually hose them down about once a day. In our sandy soil of NE Florida, they have the opportunity to drain quickly, even with a good covering of mulch around the roots.

The tip I found here on adding coffee grounds is greatly appreciated! I just picked up two large bags of used coffee grounds from a local Starbuck's Coffee last night and will use some of the coffee grounds around the Callas.

I bought a lot of the smaller Callas on sale last season. They bloomed more easily than this larger Calla, but few have returned after the winter temps of 28 F on a few nights. From the notes here, it could also be that these smaller callas get too much water and may rot easily in our humid climate with frequent rains.

Positive hwebber On Apr 30, 2005, hwebber from Santa Clarita, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

My callas are planted on the east side of my house and have thrived in dry to moderately moist soil. They get direct sun about 1/2 day. I pay very little attention to them except for pulling off the dead and dying leaves and flowers. They are thick and luxurious.

Positive busybee On Apr 17, 2005, busybee from Kentwood, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have had this plant for fifteen years in the same place. It has not spread for reproduce from seed. It gets morning/noon sun and partial shade and is a welcome addition to my flower bed.Creamy white flowers are lightly fragrant and make great cut flowers.

Positive htop On Mar 30, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I had read that these were cold hardy to Zone 8. I bought 2 and planted one in a flowerbed under oak and crepe myrtle trees on the east side of my yard where it receives some morning sun and afternoon shade. I mulched it heavily in late fall. The other one I kept in my greenhouse. We had several freezes and the one in the ground suffered some leaf burn on only a few leaves. I posted a photo of it to show the winter damage. It is doing great now. The one in the greenhouse grew tall and not as full because it was not receiving enough light. I am thrilled that it survives our winters here.

Update: 2/23/09 The plants continue to do have done very well. I had to dig one clump up because the city electrical company butchered the oaks under which the clump was growing so most of the shade was gone. The one clump that is still in a container has been left out of my greenhouse for the past 2 winters and is situated under a tree and next to my house. It has no freeze damage at all.

Positive AntChewy On Nov 4, 2004, AntChewy from Bakersfield, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

was northside of house under japanese maple, has hardly spread in 6yrs, flowers dramatically and last nearly a month. Entire plant dies back most of Jul and Aug. Moved to new home and their now on east facing fence and doing great.

Negative angelam On May 27, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

This is a very invasive weed of wetlands in Australia. It is hard to get rid of so better not to grow it even in cities as its seeds can get into storm drains etc. and be spread from there. (It reminds me too much of funerals too)

Positive ladyrowan On Mar 14, 2004, ladyrowan from Garberville, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I enjoy Callas, which grow prolifically in Northern CA. An interesting thing to try with your cut flowers, is to put some food coloring in the water, and watch the edges of the flower turn colors. Very interesting effect.

Positive Flit On Jan 30, 2004, Flit from Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Mine get regular water but are not kept moist all the time. They grow in nearly full shade. I have a thriving patch that grows at the base of a black walnut tree... many plants will not grow in the dripline of this tree but they don't seem to mind. These plants are quite luxurious and bloom profusely every year. They spread freely but in my yard that is not an issue as the beds are confined.

Positive miltboyd On Oct 27, 2003, miltboyd from Haverhill, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

North of Boston, I dig the "bulbs" up after the first frost, wash them clean, place them in paper bags with excelsior or sawdust, and hang them from the pipes in a cool basement until two or three weeks after the last frost in the spring.

They grow well on the north side of the house, in heavy clayey dirt, with regular (but not excessive) watering. They multiply each year, but are not invasive.

Only problem is that Japanese beetles like to hide in the flower - not nice to see, but they don't eat much.

Positive MusaRojo On Oct 3, 2003, MusaRojo wrote:

This plant blooms all year for me in Orange County California. The area where they are planted is kept moist by using a drip hose, otherwise they would probably go dormant during the dry season. Other than keeping it moist and throwing fertilizer at it once in a while, this plant doesnt require much attention.

Positive stellapathic On Nov 23, 2002, stellapathic from Cambria, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have these bulbs in a tall (3') urn against a wall facing south/southeast. Originally the bulbs were dug from my garden in No Cal and I had noticed that the best specimens grew under a trio of redwood trees that held a water tank which frequently overflowed. Using that observation, I have fed my potted bulbs with coffee grounds, nearly every morning for many years (at this point I don't think there's any actual soil left). Including the 3' container, the top of the plant is nearly 8' tall. It hasn't had one illness (while all plants surrounding it have all had various ailments at one point or another). Summary: Morning sun, acidic soil, boggy conditions = happy healthy plant.

Positive jkom51 On Sep 30, 2002, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Love callas but the note about constant watering does not apply when plant is dormant. The bulbs, particularly the smaller colored dwarf callas, will rot quickly. The big common white callas are tougher and more vigorous. Here in coastal Nor.Calif. I've had to move the dwarves to a drier, quick-draining bed, although the big white callas will grow even in clay. They flower well in lt. shade/early morning sun works best.

Positive lupinelover On May 6, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant can be grown in pots sunk in a pond, or can be grown in ordinary gardens. Bulbs quickly multiply.

Can be successfully overwintered outdoors in colder regions (zones 6-8) if properly mulched.

Ripe seeds on some hybrids turn red, giving a second season of interest. They stay in the pod until separated or harvested. Seeds can be started indoors or outdoors, in a suitable climate. Flowering occurs second year after germination.

This is a very invasive plant in warm climates.

If saving seed, protect your hands from fruit which can cause numbness.

Neutral killerdaisy On Aug 8, 2001, killerdaisy from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Leafspot may be troublesome, along with snails, slugs, and viruses spread by sucking insects


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Florence, Alabama
Irvington, Alabama
New Market, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Booneville, Arkansas
Alameda, California
Amesti, California
Canoga Park, California
Carlotta, California
Chino, California
Chowchilla, California
Cool, California
Cotati, California
Dana Point, California
Delano, California
El Macero, California
Encinitas, California
Escondido, California
Eureka, California
Fallbrook, California
Foothill Farms, California
Garberville, California
Hemet, California
Knights Landing, California
Long Beach, California (2 reports)
Merced, California
Northridge, California
Oakland, California
Oildale, California
Pacifica, California
Palo Alto, California
Pasadena, California
Perris, California
Poway, California
Riverside, California
Roseland, California
San Anselmo, California
San Clemente, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
San Juan Capistrano, California
San Pedro, California
Santa Cruz, California
Seaside, California
Valley Village, California
Van Nuys, California
Denver, Colorado
Lewes, Delaware
Apopka, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
North Port, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Alto, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia
Clarkston, Georgia
Lula, Georgia
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Franklin, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Slidell, Louisiana
Batesville, Mississippi
Petal, Mississippi
Roswell, New Mexico
Brevard, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Eden, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
Kinston, North Carolina
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Albany, Oregon
Dallas, Oregon
Grand Ronde, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Springfield, Oregon
Glassport, Pennsylvania
Aynor, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Fair Play, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Irmo, South Carolina
Leesville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Christiana, Tennessee
Kingsport, Tennessee
Rockwood, Tennessee
Bedford, Texas
Copperas Cove, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Houston, Texas
Leander, Texas
Murchison, Texas
Pipe Creek, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Tyler, Texas
Bellevue, Washington
Lakewood, Washington
Port Townsend, Washington
Poulsbo, Washington
Ridgefield, Washington
Tacoma, Washington (2 reports)

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