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Callas in fresh new colors.

Elegant as they are, the white flowers of the common calla pale in comparison with the new breeds making their way into Western nurseries. Now callas come in a range of soft pastel hues as well as hotter shades that glow like candle flames. Resembling fluted cups, the colored flowers are 3 to 5 inches long - about half to two-thirds the size of the common calla (Zantedeschia aethiopica). These beauties grow from rhizomes you plant now for bloom in spring and lush, lance-shaped leaves that last into fall. They thrive in well-drained garden soil and containers.


The plants described here range in height from 1 to 2 feet.

Giant yellow calla (Zantedeschia pentlandii) has golden yellow flowers and unspotted leaves.

Golden calla (Z. elliottiana) has golden yellow flowers and white-spotted leaves.

Pink callas with unspotted leaves are mostly descended from Z. rebmannii. Z.r. 'Superba' has deep pink blooms; Z.r. violaceae has deep rose flowers.

Spotted calla (Z. albomaculata) has creamy yellow or white flowers with crimson to purple throats and white-spotted leaves.

The most heavily flowering colored varieties are sold as Callafornia Callas but are often renamed by retailers. They include 'Crystal Blush' (white with rose blush), 'Lavender Gem', 'Rose Gem', 'Rubylite Pink Ice', and 'Rubylite Rose'. In Sunset's test garden, the favorite was 'Flame', whose flowers resemble yellow-orange candle flames, then darken to red as they age.

Look for calla rhizomes or potted plants in well-stocked nurseries and garden centers. Rhizomes are sold by species, named variety, or color alone. Mail-order sources for rhizomes are Dutch Gardens (800/818-3861) and Van Bourgondien Bros. (800/622-9997).


Plant rhizomes, rounded side down, 1 foot apart and 2 inches deep in rich, well-drained soft. Callas like full sun near the coast and partial shade in hotter inland climates. Or in wide, shallow containers (we used 16-inch.wide, 7-inch-deep pots), plant rhizomes 2 inches deep but space them more closely (1 to 6 inches apart) for a concentrated show. Plant the same colors together. Mixtures don't work as well because different-colored callas bloom at slightly different times.

Drench the rhizomes once at planting, then water sparingly until leaves emerge. After that, water regularly and feed occasionally until the leaves die down.

In mild-winter areas, calla rhizomes can overwinter in the ground if drainage is good. Mulch plants if hard frost is a possibility in your garden. In cold-winter areas where the ground freezes, dig up rhizomes in fall, dry them, place in flats covered with dry peat moss, and store in a frost-free place for the winter.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:flowers
Author:McCausland, Jim
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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