Zantedeschia Aethiopica is a species in the Araceae family, which includes popular sub-families (genera) such as Aglaonema, Alocasia, Anthurium, Caladium, Dieffenbachia, Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos), Philodendron, Spathiphyllum, Syngonium, just to name a few. So this species, native to southern regions in Africa and naturalized in Australia, is obviously in very good company with its much beloved cousins. Although the plant is neither a true Arum nor a lily, it does go by the common names of Calla Lily and Arum Lily, Calla being the more popular of the two – at least where I’m from.
In much warmer regions, the Calla Lily can be grown outdoors year round, but in the cold north where I live, the only way you can enjoy this plant for months on end is indoors as a houseplant. Although it is not the easiest to get to bloom, it is not too difficult to maintain inside the house, therefore it is worth a try. Even without blooms, it makes a nice foliage plant. Perhaps that’s not your intention with Zantedeschia Aethiopica – after all, you have enough houseplants to fill your just-leaves-without-flowers needs – but for those of you that don’t mind either way, below is some basic care info.
The one thing to commit to memory after you finish reading this Hydro Log is that Zantedeschia needs perfect conditions indoors to keep it in tip top shape, which in turn will encourage it to bloom. And one of the most important requirements is adequate light. Choose a spot that provides plenty of light while the plant is actively growing. Bright, filtered sunshine is the preference; early morning eastern or late afternoon western sun is ideal. If you decide to grow your plant year round instead of forcing it to go dormant, you may want to place your Zantedeschia where it will receive a couple of hours of southern sun during the colder months. During the summer, particularly on those really hot days, curtain-filtered sunlight should be fine, although you might want to move your plant a little further back from a southern window to protect it against the heat and possible sunburns.
Speaking of dormancy, the best thing to do is to allow your plant to die back during the winter; this is a good way to coax it back into bloom. To do this, stop watering in November and let the foliage die. Trim away all dead leaves and stems, dig the tubers out of the soil and shake away as much of the medium as possible. Store the tubers in vermiculite or peat moss until midwinter in a cool area where the temperature is about 4ºC - 5ºC (about 40ºF). When February rolls around, repot the tubers, place them back into a warm room with good lighting and begin watering. Leaves will grow quickly and (hopefully) flowers will follow shortly.
Use a fast-draining, airy medium and keep it evenly moist during the period that the plant is actively growing. Good watering habits are extremely important to help prevent rot; if the tubers are grown in compacted, consistently waterlogged soil, they will literally turn to mush and you can kiss them goodbye. If you skip the dormancy phase and continue to grow your plant throughout the winter months, allow the medium to dry a little more but never completely. Grow this plant in hydroculture; it couldn’t get easier with a Zantedeschia Aethiopica because there’s no need to transplant. Simply pot up the tubers in clay pellets instead of soil when you bring them home. Make sure you always keep the water level below the plant or the tubers will rot!
The care requirements for this lovely plant are very few and quite simple; therefore, it’s always difficult for me to resist bringing home a few tubers whenever they arrive at the local greenhouses. Although I wouldn’t recommend this plant as the best choice for indoors, it certainly is a good choice. So, if you do happen upon one that is relatively inexpensive, give it a try; it’s certainly worth the effort.