zantedeschia 'aethiopica' (calla lily white giant)

greyandamyMarch 12, 2011

Okay, a clue when I got these tubers of the name "giant" should have told me something... but it didn't. (duh?)...I have 3 of this growing, I started earlier (mid Feb?)in hopes for Easter bloom. I was attracted to them b/c they are a perennial for a change in my zone (zones 6-10) and Fragrant. Though "fragrant" doesn't always mean a good fragrance... we'll see. Anyway, they are growing like they are on steroids. I just repotted 6 " pots with top growth of about 6" to see the roots were massive and getting bound. They were each repotted into hanging basket sized pots. (the tubers were an indication I guess, 3-4" diameter). I don't want these in huge huge containers, though it's been my experience that taller plants need bigger pots. Eventually, could I root prune them or would that hurt them? The roots were so thick, prettty healthy and white.I also have some wierd thing about hating severly potbound plants...

I've had them inside house, maybe if I put on sunporch where it can get cool at night they'll slow a bit. Even though they are "perennials", I doubt I can put them out if a frost comes without the frost kiling them, as they were started inside.

Anyone ever this grow(larger type I suppose)in pots?

At this rate, by the time the grounds workable and no frosts, the holes would need to be quite large.

Are these root prunable?

Should I just give in with time and keep upsizing their containers?

Any thoughts, please let me know! THANKS!!


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Generally it is the smaller, shorter forms (sometimes hybrids) that are use for container culture. And I'm not at all sure these have been started early enough under household growing conditions to force bloom by Easter - typically the early bloom you see on potted callas is done under highly controlled greenhouse conditions. Just keep potting up - root pruning is NOT appropriate for bulbs or tubers.

And you may need to do some further research - these are not going to be winter hardy for you in the ground. Most references list them at zone 8 and some dip to zone 7, but that's about as low as they go :-)

One other item - if you continue to grow these as houseplants (somewhat common in colder zones), keep them away from pets or small children as the foliage contains calcium oxalates that can cause severe oral irritation or burning and affect swallowing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Zantedeschia aethiopica

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 1:33PM
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Thanks Garden Gal! So the company LIED to us about the zones, saying 6-10.???? I even copied a small part of what the bulb place said. How can they Lie???

Common Name:
Calla lily, Giant White Calla

Botanical Name:
Zantedeschia 'Aethiopica'

Lush green leaves and large, pure white blooms, fragrant


Part shade

Zones 6-10

Bloom Time:
Spring through summer

Oh well, I'll pot up if needed... Or compost in time if they aren't what I thought...

THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE INFO ABOUT THE FOLIAGE!! I have 2 dogs that sometimes do like to nip/eat foliage, VERY GOOD TO KNOW!!! THANKS!! (Then I get paranoid, I had a swallowing issue for awhile, but ..I'm paranoid, I don't eat the foliage!)...

You're a great refernce, later I'll get back to this bulb company and see what the heck... I think it was easy to grow bulbs, not marked in Garden watchdog, but the bulbs I got from them with many things were huge and doing well..



    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 2:41PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Actually, Brent and Becky's Bulbs also lists Zantedeschia aethiopica as hardy to zone 6. I can leave my Zantedeschia albomaculata bulbs in the ground in my zone (7a) as long as they are below 6 inches. I think the main thing is that you don't want the bulb itself to freeze. I think in zone 6 you could get them to survive the winter if you plant them deeper yet (10-12 inches) and mulch heavily for the winter and then remove the mulch in spring. They will come up from quite deep.

Here is a link that might be useful: Zantedeschia aethiopica

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 10:28PM
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The way they keep OUTGROWING their pots! I'll never be able to big a hole big enough to get them in the ground, this year. LESSON LEARNED HARD WAY, PAY ATTENTION! A "giant plant" obviously gets GIANT roots and needs GIANT pots. Just repotted into 5 gallons and PRAY That will hold them over. Top growth is only a foot. I'm using all my soil! Venting, though photos of them are pretty...


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:16PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I would be curious to hear back from you when these bloom! I was considering these myself. I've grown smaller callas lilies (pink and purple) but was disappointed in them; too many leaves as opposed to flowers.

Someone on here told me the white varieties were better. I thought I'd try the ones that have speckled leaves; If the flowers were disappointing, at least I'd have nice leaves to look at.

I wonder what makes yours "giant"?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 1:44PM
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linnea56, I'll be sure to TRY to remember this and let you know..I have a rather good memory when it comes to plants. Like you, I've always grown smaller callas, this impressed me b/c "hardy" (QUESTIONABLE I SEE) and "Fragrant"... After being irritated they needed repotted up again, hopefully into their final size, I scanned online photos. They made me less irritated. They are "giant" I assume b/c they get, reportedly, to ht of 30-40", as per tags. And the bulbs were giant, 3.5" diameter plus... thus pots are giant. They are green leaves, no speckles. Flowers will be white. We'll see...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:04PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I remember reading recently that these callas were hardier than most people give them credit for. Maybe it was through Brent and Becky, but I'm not sure. In any case I can't find it again.

I do remember though that the grower said they took a while to establish... maybe three years... and then finally put on a great show of blooms, don't know what the zone was but I do know it was on the east coast and zone 7 or lower.

But don't get me wrong.... I wouldn't try overwintering outdoors unless you had too many, they were too big, or you were just feeling adventurous.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:45PM
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The species aethiopica (not a cultivar, so not shown in single quotes) is the giant white calla and is probably the hardiest of the callas. But since it is semi-tropical in origin, true hardiness is a bit of a guess. Personally, I wouldn't push the zone 6 -- I think 7 is more likely to be realistic unless heavy winter mulching was involved. The smaller colored ones are most often Elliottiana hybrids and are definitely NOT winter hardy, not even in my climate :-) These often have speckled foliage as does Zantedeschia albomaculata or spotted calla. Also not hardy :-) And this is likely one of the parent plants of some of the hybrids.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:18PM
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Gardengal, we have tons of Calla's that come back in IN Zone 5, it totally depends on how wet they get in the winter and if they rot. Zantedeschia aethipocia is the hardiest Calla being from very high elevations in parts of Africa. I've had no problems growing them in open garden with no protection, they come back just fine!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 7:12PM
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chocolatemoose(Z1, North Pole, Alaska)

Amy...Did you buy these bulbs this year? And was it from Easy To Grow?
I'd love to have the giant callas you're struggling with and may order some if you know where you got them. Different strokes for different folks. The bigger, the better for me!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:02PM
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Hi! Wow, the North pole! Anyway, I purchased these bulbs (with a few others) this past Autumn from Easy to Grow bulbs (as they were rated in top 10 of Daves Garden Watchdog).

I saved the info they sent, but when I was trying to go to their website this year to further confirm a few things, they weren't offered, meaning they are a fall-only offering, I assume???

It's not that I'm struggling, (complaining, yes), they are just big, and I have so many other indoor plants still.

I've learned more than I thought from the origin of this post. One thing for sure, under the "calla lily Aethiopica" there seems to be a number of varieties. That surprised me.

"difficult to establish?", these seem FAR FAR from that...
They were started earlish February, now they are close to 2 ft tall and 8" wide in approx equivilant to 8 gallon pots in which they must of the 3 is a bit smaller... leaves about 7" long...getting too heavy for my back, as they are still indoors or on cold covered sunporch.

Differnt strokes? Certainly! Oh, they can take some abuse, like some (unintended) root damage in repotting, etc...


    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 4:45PM
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chocolatemoose(Z1, North Pole, Alaska)

Amy...North Pole is a small town outside Fairbanks in AK. A fun place and a conversation starter for sure.

I completely understand "struggling, not complaining"
I have to start everything in a heated garage and have had things that grew way too fast...and you can't slow them down. I was laughing as I read your post since I was remembering the same situations...and will have them again this year, as always. The worst was the year I had 8 foot lilies in the middle of May and had to have help tilting them to take them in and out of the garage to harden them off. They had an stake in them and weighted a ton...Sure were pretty though!

After reading you post, I found "giant" callas on ebay. No idea if they are as large as yours from ETG. They arrived today. Based on your experience and the included literature saying fast growing, I may wait a week or so to plant them.

I've always been happy with ETG, but have to pay extra shipping to AK so didn't order from them this year.

Hope you'll post pics down the road of your monster. We'll have to compare notes!
P.S. Suggestion...Look for these things called plant rollers or plant caddy's. You can google them to see what I'm talking about. I got mine on sale at Joanne's Crafts Saved my back big time and I plan to get more for those big pots.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 12:24AM
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Great you found them!! Are the tubers quite large? You're determined! Good luck!!!


    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:43AM
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chocolatemoose(Z1, North Pole, Alaska)

They are both 9" in diameter. Can't touch my thumb and middle finger around them. They are like medium sized apples.
I ordered giant white calla lilies from the same guy two days later...Glutton for punishment!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:45PM
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Barb, you got the kind I have, the apples. Beware (SMILE!).. my "large apple" bulbs were cut neatly in half... we'll have an.. interesting time with them!!! Have fun!!!!!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 12:05PM
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It was all an experiment

I have 3, 1 I kept in unheated sunporch where it's been quite cold. It's still compatively small, it's had nights as low as 20 degrees out there (but obviously covered).. the 2nd was moved to sunporch about 3 weeks ago, once I rudely transplanted it (if that's what you call yanking it up by it's poor leaves) into a 12x17" pot... it's smaller than the one in house, maybe a bit more than 2 feet tall byt 1 foot wide, but not small, just not in bloom yet...One is in house. The one in house started blooming about 6 days ago (when tuber planted in Feb), it's GORGEOUS, all my complaining from before aside). LIGHTLY fragrant, meaning you have to put your nose right up to it. But it's not an unpleasant fragrance at all... very clean. The blooms are comparatively small (maybe2x2) compared to the huge leaves... It's..I'm sure, restrained in size by the pot, but it's currently 33" tall by 32" wide (almost symmetrical!)

The pots with the 2 largest are 17x17", that's as large as I had... They probably would've appreciated larger, but...So if started and kept warm, flowering time took 2 months, which is amazing, maybe 9 weeks...

I learned not to keep them TOO moist, or a black edge occurs on a leave or flower. Moisture, yes, boggy, no... the 2 pots don't have GREAT drainage...

I won't be able to lift the upstairs pot down and outside when it's time by myself. I don't know how long they bloom. Inside, the stretch to sun (south and west big windows)... but outside the tag says part shade. I won't know how to store them over winter, once done and died back... and am afraid at how much larger the tuber may be..

I can't imagine growing ouside, they again the tag says hardy to zone 6 (I'd mulch heavily) as they need warmth and by the time the ground would warm enough for growth, and the ROOM needed for growth.... well, I guess it would work... That's another year...

I'd recommend...for the leaves alone. 11" long, brillant green, prominent enough veining..

If in pots, not for those with bad backs..


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:44PM
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Maggie M.(z7 Sunset7 CA Sierra Foothills)

When I lived in zone 9 I had 2 types of large white calla - what I'll call the regular that gets to about 3 foot tall and one, a giant I received from a landscaper that did get to 6 foot tall (it looked so gorgeous by her front door). I didn't get the varietal name. I wouldn't root prune the fleshy roots. I've been growing a few in pots and they seem constrained by pot size - similar to elephant ear or brugmansia, if you don't fertilize often they'll constrict their growth a bit. If you are lucky enough to have a true giant (some market the 3 foot as giant) I'd get it a bigger pot - it is truly a stunning plant and worth a place if you can make one for it.

Here is a link that might be useful: mists and enchantments my blog

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 3:10PM
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