The hot and humid areas of central-southern Africa are the homeland of the plant generally called Calla, a word that means beautiful, from the Greek kalòs. It is also famous for a famous line by Katharine Hepburn.
Calla, otherwise called the Lily of the Nile, is a plant of African origins that is part of the Araceae family, order Alismatales, class Liliopsida, genus Zantedeschia and is also known by a third name, namely Richardia. It is a perennial evergreen plant that has an oblong rhizome, basal leaves with long petioles and monoecious flowers.
While Calla elliottiana generates yellow flowers, Cala rehmannii features white flowers with some pink undertones. Calla nelsonii, on the other hand, has sulfur yellow flowers.
The genus was classified by Kurt Sprengel, who died in 1833 and the name Zantedeschia was given in memory of the Italian scholar Giovanni Zantedeschi, but until 1900 it was mistakenly believed that Calla was part of the same genus as the aquatic aro.
According to the language of flowers, Calla means beauty, but also simplicity and therefore purity: it is in fact also connected to celestial bliss and for this reason it is represented in Christian iconography on the mantle of the Madonna, while in the cinematographic field this plant has become famous for a famous scene from the film "Palcoscenico", directed by Gregory La Cava, in which Katharine Hepburn says: The Calle are in bloom again. A strange flower, suitable for any occasion. I used them on my wedding day, and now I have placed them here, in memory of someone who died.
The flowers of the Calla. How reproduction occurs
These plants have a modified stem: in the part of the stem that comes out of the earth a squat rhizome develops, which can be cut into different parts, so as to obtain many different plants. This procedure, which ensures fast flowering, must be performed after the calla lilies have flowered and therefore while the rhizomes are still dormant.
The cut (can be carried out with a knife and the portions obtained from the rhizome can also be buried) will be done taking care to leave a small rounded formation (in jargon called eye) for each portion - or at most two - because it is precisely from such "eyes" that the leaves of the new plants will be born.
The Calla (or Zantedeschia) aethiopica generates inflorescences with staminate flowers at the apex and pistillate flowers at the base, but it must be observed that the flowers of this plant are really particular, because they are characterized by a funnel-shaped spathe up to 25 cm long, in the center of which stands an erect spadix, which the ancient Romans considered a phallic symbol.
Majestic and showy flower, the Calla can look good alone, in a vase, or even in a bouquet with other flowers, also because the shades of its famous flowers are really many: pink, orange, red, dark purple, burgundy. In particular, three white Calle are considered a symbol of the trinity.
The cultivation of Calla and its uses
The Calla can be grown very simply and within everyone's reach, in pots or in a greenhouse. To develop at its best, it likes very moist soil. This plant, which has been very successful for decorative purposes, is often used to embellish the spaces next to swimming pools or ponds. When grown indoors, the pots should be placed in bowls full of water to ensure a constant level of humidity.
The multiplication takes place by division of the tufts or with the traditional method of sowing. It gives green sagittate leaves with long petioles that arise from the same rhizome of the plant, while the fruits of the Calla are berries that can contain from 1 to 3 seeds.
Abundant watering is not necessary and you can proceed with measure every 15-20 days, bearing in mind that the more the area has a cold climate, the more the Calla needs to receive the fundamental nourishment of water and that the best time to repot is in the months of January-February. On this occasion the rhizomes must be buried at a depth of 5 cm in pots of about 25 cm in diameter and fertilized until flowering.
-">The fertilization of the Calle. The enemies
During the winter months it is advisable to significantly reduce the classic fertilization operations, because an excessive development of shoots exposes the plants to the danger represented by frosts.
Enemies of Calle's crops are the cottony cochineals, which come into action especially in case of hot-dry temperatures. Where the infestation is detected it is necessary to proceed with an anticoccidial treatment, suitable for eliminating these dangerous parasites, also increasing the humidity level of the area, with frequent washing of the foliage.
Another typical enemy of Calle is the mite known as the red spider, which usually weaves its webs in the lower part of the leaves and must be eradicated through the use of acaricides, which are readily available in specialized shops.
Calla flowers: Calla bulbs
Very often calla lilies and zantedeschia are bought in the nursery, buying plants that are already large and ready to be placed in the ground. However, they can obviously also be planted and cultivated starting directly from the seed ... or rather, from the bulb. In fact, these plants are bulbous plants that can be placed in the ground and grown both in flat ground and in pots, as long as cultural precautions are taken. First we need to know that the bulbs must be placed in the ground at a depth of 15-20 centimeters. The ideal period for planting bulbs is the end of winter and spring, until the month of May.
If we want to plant the bulbs in pots, we take a fairly large pot, at least 25-30 cm in diameter, and fill it with neutral soil, and then place the bulb at a depth of 7-10 cm. If, on the other hand, we want to put the calla bulb in the ground, in the garden, we must first of all work the soil with a spade and move it well, eliminating any stones and stones present in the area of interest of the plant. At this point we add manure or other organic fertilizer into the soil to make it richer and softer, after which we place the bulb in the ground and bury it.