Zantedeschia aethiopica–or calla or arum lily–always figures prominently in my fantasy gardens. For example, the garden below from House & Garden’s December issue:
The stone balustrade separating the garden from the mountain lake, the cupid sitting on a dolphin, and callas dominating the pool, well thanks, I wouldn’t mind at all. Particularly right now.
Even more to my taste are those balmy gardens in foreign climes where the calla lilies are naturalized on some beautiful hillside leading down to the sea. A native of South Africa, zantedeschia aethiopica is apparently such a robust grower, it’s considered a weed in some parts of the world. (It’s really time for a stricter definition of the word "weed," one that excludes callas and embraces Black-Eyed Susans.)
Last winter, Lowe’s offered zantedeschia aethiopica tubers, variety unnamed, for $4 each. I thought what the hey, bought three and stuck them in a pot. They produced giant, gorgeous arrow-shaped leaves and promptly bloomed in the house, large, pristine, pitcher-shaped white blooms. Not just a success. For someone with my narrow horizons, an absolute dream.
Then I took a clue from the Brent and Becky’s Bulbs catalog and, in the spring, sunk the pot into my little backyard fish pond–where the callas promptly took over the joint, growing too large for their container, producing an amazing mat of roots that attempted to crawl over the top, and keeling over irritatingly. I repotted them in a bigger container in aquatic soil–where they did the same thing again. Fortunately, I guess, winter threatened before they got the full Fish Out Of Water treatment, with me scrambling for bigger container after bigger container until finally I have to dump my charge into Peerless Pool in the state park.
Then I brought the pot of callas into the house and gave it my patented houseplant treatment: actionable neglect with an occasional muttering of imprecations. Did I gently remove that amazing mass of roots from the sprinkling of rocky aquatic soil that was barely covering them into the nice, rich potting soil they deserved? Reader, I did not. I stuck the pot in a North-facing window and forgot about it.
What did zantedeschia aethiopica do? Started blooming again. I love this plant madly. Despite its tropical look, the books all say that aethiopica, unlike other callas, can survive in rich, moist soil even in Zone 6. I’ve got dry soil in Zone 5. Time to try this baby in the ground.