Calla Lilies

calla lilies

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Exquisitely beautiful and delicate, the Calla lilies will find a home in any Florida garden. It is a native of South America and belongs to the Araceae family. The word Calla comes from Greek and it means 'beautiful'. Although Calla is known as the 'Calla Lily', this plant does not belong to the family of the lilies. The flower is cultivated at home and in greenhouses for its beautiful, colorful blossoms. Long-petioled, basal leaves arise from the rhizomes of this plant. The inflorescence appears on a leafless long stalk and consists of a spathe and a spadix. The flower is actually a solitary and showy funnel shaped spathe that looks as if it is in the process of unfurling. The Spathe is 6-9 inches and tapers down to a point. It is a large and flaring trumpet shaped bract. The Spadix rises out from the middle of the Spathe and is covered by tiny flowers

This plant was imported from South Africa to America in the middle of the nineteenth century. These first appealed to the artists in America. But by the mid-twentieth century, the waxy white blossoms and spear-headed leaves were very popular with photographers and artists who began to make this their subject of work. All this led to a sudden spurt in the popularity of this flower. The Calla lily is popularly known as the trumpet lily reminding one of the Archangel Gabriel and his trumpet. The Callas originally appeared in white color only, but due to their immense popularity, various hybrids have given rise to flowers in various hues and even multicolored blossoms are seen now. Callas are very popular in weddings in bouquets.

The Callas plant grows very fast, and is a very hardy plant. But it does not tolerate salt water at all. The plant requires to be in moist conditions and needs regular watering. The planting medium should be rich but well draining and porous. The plant grows well if it is exposed to lots of sunlight. A lightly shaded area is also suitable. Once the plants have outgrown the pot they are in, you will need to transplant them to a bigger pot. This can be done by simply removing it from the old pot, and putting it into the new pot and adding in sufficient soil. When kept in pots, Calla lilies should be given a weak solution of liquid plant food. Food should be given every 3 weeks as long as the plant is showing signs of growth. Indoors, they will need lots of sunshine and temperatures above 70 degrees. As the flowers begin to fade, they should be removed. Once the plant has finished blooming, the foliage should be allowed to mature. Reduce watering gradually, until the leaves have all become black. The tubers should then be allowed to rest for a 3-4 month period. After this ripening period, the tubers can be repotted in fresh soil again. Until the new growth reaches above the soil, the plant should be watered sparingly. Use a fertilizer only after the plant has become root bound.

While potting the plant, it is advisable to use good commercial potting soil rather than garden soil or field soil. The latter tends to pack heavy when water is poured over it. Calla lilies are usually very resistant and can tolerate most pests and diseases. They do not need frequent pesticides. The plants become dormant during the winter season, and at this time, the leaves may die and fall off. Otherwise the leaves a rich green and grow up to 1.5 inches long. The foliage of the plant is easily damaged by frost. But the plant recovers very quickly. Division is the recommended means of propagation.

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