Zantedeschia aethiopica

Zantedeschia aethiopica, also known as the Arum lily or Calla lily

Zantedeschia aethiopica

Plant profile

Zantedeschia aethiopica, growing in Aberdeen. Most people liked it a few thought it was kind of funereal.


Well, I wouldn’t pay much attention to that, because, it’s a great looking plant.
Described as being borderline hardy, protection from frost required in Aberdeen.
The tiny yellow flowers cover the central spadix. A finger-like stem surrounded by the white floral bract called a spathe.
Generally referred to as a Lily Zantedeschia aethiopica
unlike the true Lily is, in fact, an Aroid. Belonging to a large species of plants in the Araceae family. 

Zantedeschia aethiopica

Growing in a pot was the simplest solution to the borderline hardiness problem. In early Winter I would protect the container with bubble wrap.  Placing it in the unheated greenhouse gave enough protection.
In early April I would remove the plant from the greenhouse. Positioning it in a sunny sheltered position is essential. As a result, success was assured.


Zantedeschia aethiopica

 Showing pictures today of Zantedeschia aethiopica. Removed from our Aberdeen garden. and planted in a sunny position in our Cheshire front garden.


Zantedeschia aethiopica


 Zantedeschia aethiopica is a frost resistant perennial originating from South Africa.The plant can remain evergreen given mild Winter in the South of England.
The white blooms (spathes). Supported on sturdy stems above the large glossy arrow-shaped leaves.
Buy as pot grown plants or tubers in early Spring.
• Soil – prefers soil which is NOT free draining, in fact, it can be grown as a pond marginal plant. Growing in the border, water copiously. acidic/alkaline

• Position – full sun

• Height – will eventually reach 3ft/90cm – spread 2ft/60cm

• – Flowering – late Spring/early Summer



© 2017 – 2018, Alistair. All rights reserved.

20 thoughts on “Zantedeschia aethiopica

  1. These are one of my favourite plants. I have them in many colours and they are stunning! I’m glad you like them too, Alistair.

  2. Hello Alistair, I keep these in pots with no holes so it’s almost as though it’s in a marginal pond. They’re currently in the greenhouse, keeping green but I have left them outside some years and though they die back with the frost, they come back the next spring. I’m planning to have these in the wetter parts of the garden, given our heavy clay soil, I’m hoping they’ll do well.

  3. I have mixed feelings about Arum Lilies. They are magnificent and stately but remind me of death. Somewhat like swans – beautiful but cold.

  4. Yes. Re death / funereal. When I was a child, we called them Easter Lilies because at our church (and I imagine at others too) people could buy them in memory of people who had died. They would be put in large vases as part of decorating the church for Easter Day. I suppose the idea was to celebrate resurrection but as each one was named for someone who had died it was hard to see it that way – and the impression has stuck. I was cynical too. In the Church of England white is the festival colour (red is for martyrs which is a bit of a shame) and as arum lily flowers are expensive it seemed a means to buy white flowers to celebrate with. All this has made them exotic in my eyes and I remember being awed when first seeing them growing happily in outside a house in Dorset.

  5. Hello Alistair, I absolutely love Zantedeschias, and I don’t think of them as funeral plants at all, if anything they are more used for weddings I think. In my garden I have one in a huge barrel (60L) with lots of gravel in the bottom and I fill the barrel with water right to the top every time I water so they literately have a bath. There are drainage holes, but very small ones. Mine is mostly evergreen and only lose some leaves in January/February before starting growth again. It needs no protection and spends all time outdoors It even has one flower now!
    Wishing you and yours a lovely Christmas and all the best for 2018!

  6. Alistair, I love this plant Zantedeschia, I have grown it in a pot as you, in the greenhouse because all summer was cool and there Zantedeschia grew and flowered well.
    Happy New Year, wishing you good health and success in gardening.

  7. I’m fond of this lily but it’s a bit of a weed here, and it’s a power struggle to keep it in its place. Hope you had a lovely Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018 to you and Moira.

  8. Very pretty! I used to be able to grow orange calla lilies outside when I lived further down south. Those were so beautiful. Here where I live now it is not even borderline hardy.

  9. Happy New year, Alistair! I have never thought of this plant as funereal. It is beautiful, though it does not reliably bloom for me. Perhaps it needs more sun? Wishing you the best in 2018! Deb

  10. I am sorting out my garden in West Dunbartonshire in Scotland. One of our challenging areas is a badly draining area below a bank so I am intending to plant Arums there. I come from the Eastern Cape in South Africa where they proliferate in marshy areas. I never had much success growing them in the garden there as our side of the river was very exposed, but there were some growing wild across on the shady side along with strelitzia reginae, red hot pokers, cycads and other great plants considered so exotic here. But the most amazing thing about arums is that we used to find arum lily frogs (Horstock’s frogs) which like to live in the pools of water within the flowers themselves and wait for visiting insects.

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