We have experienced strange weather patterns this year. Some of my most reliable flowers just haven’t performed up to their usual standards. Others that were showing great promise became dinner for hungry deer and bunnies. The always elegant Calla Lilies, however, exceeded expectations.
One large pot of Calla Lilies reached a height of three feet this year and the leaves are huge and glossy-green with white freckles. Those in another pot are a bit shorter but they are from the smallest bulbs. The pots looked naked before the Calla Lilies emerged through the soil, so I planted Wax Begonia and Sweet Alyssum volunteers in the larger pot and excess Hot Pink Impatiens in the smaller pot. Those plants seem to be happy with their pot partners. Since Japanese Beetles arrived in the Midwest, I have found it best to grow Callas in a shadier spot as the beetles don’t bother them in the shade locations.
Our original Calla Lily bulbs were gifts from Dad when his bulbs greatly multiplied. Over the years we have shared our excess back and forth. Over-wintering Calla Lily bulbs met with mixed results until I began storing them in shredded paper inside a ventilated cardboard box. The box was kept in a cool basement garage. Before packing the bulbs in late October, I let the un-potted plants dry on newspaper and then removed the dry leaves. Some people wash and inoculate the bulbs but I just brush them fairly clean with an old soft toothbrush. In four years of using this procedure, no bulbs have dried out or rotted.
Botanically speaking, Calla Lilies are interestingly sexy. The white portion – spathe – of the ‘flower’ is actually a leaf. The flower portion is the yellow spadix column. Beyond that description, it becomes way too birds and the bees. The name of the plant comes from the Greek word meaning beauty. This beauty comes with a price for those who might eat, so use caution growing it if you have herbivore or adventurous pets.