African roots, coloured calyxes, dark-green leaves: Calla is a surprising feature in your garden with a unique silhouette.
You’re probably familiar with Calla, also known as Zantedeschia, as a cut flower and houseplant, but a Calla in a pot is also a great asset in your garden during frost-free periods. It gives your garden an attractive, full bloom creating a cheerful ambience with its upward lines. Amidst the soft green leaves (which are sometimes spotted), stems rise up bearing beautifully stylised spathes. These can be white, pink or yellow, but also red, purple, orange and even near-black. The decorative value comes mainly from the coloured calyxes: the actual flowers are very small and located on the spadix in the spathe.
Elegant container plant
Calla is native to southern Africa where the plant often grows at the bottom of slopes between grass or wet swampy conditions. The plant stores rain water in its root tubers to be able to get through drier periods. The Calla came north in the 18th century with the Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi, who classified the plant in the arum family. It makes for a good outdoor plant and also does well in pots and planters. In the soil, Calla prefers to be near a pond where it’s a bit damp.
- Greek Gods are said to have used the calyxes as goblets.
- It’s one of the few flowering plants that goes well in a modern, stripped-down garden.
- The flower was painted regularly by artists Diego Riviera ('The Flower Vendor') and Georgia O'Keeffe.
- In the Victorian language of flowers the Calla symbolises eroticism.