Calla lily plants care

The calla lily was named after the Greek word for beautiful — calla. It is associated with the Greek goddess Hera. According to the legend Zeus brought Hercules, his son from another women, to Hera, his wife, while she was asleep to drink her milk. When she woke up she pushed him away and drops of milk flew across the sky to create the milky way. The ones that fell on the ground grew into beautiful lilies.

When Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and desire, saw the lilies she was jealous of their beauty. She cursed their beauty by placing a large yellow pistil in the middle of the flowers. Because of this story, some associate the calla lily with Venus and thus with lust and sexuality.

However, the most common meaning for calla lilies is purity, holiness, and faithfulness. It’s commonly depicted in images of the Virgin Mary. Calla lilies are also symbols for rebirth and resurrection, tied to the resurrection of Jesus in part because they bloom around Easter and in part because they are shaped like trumpets which symbolize triumph.

Though calla lilies are most commonly white, they actually grow in a variety of colors including pink, purple, yellow, and even black. Calla lily symbolism varies by flower color.

  • White calla lilies symbolize purity and innocence.
  • Pink calla lilies symbolize appreciation and admiration.
  • Purple calla lilies symbolize charm and passion.
  • Yellow calla lilies symbolize gratitude.

Because of their beauty, calla lilies are used for many occasions including weddings and funerals. Calla lilies’ versatility is perfectly expressed by Katharine Hepburn in the movie Stage Door.

“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower — suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in the memory of something that has died.”

The calla lily’s name is actually a misnomer as it is not a true calla or a true lily. The Swedish botanist Carolus Lunnaeus made an error naming the plant. The error was eventually corrected when German botanist Karl Koch created the genus Zantedeschia, but the common name for the flower has stuck.

The flower is native to Africa and consists of a spathe, the outer part of the flower, and the spadix, the yellow spike in the center. The spathe is actually a modified leaf rather than a petal. Calla lilies are known for their hardiness and can even grow in water and survive frost.

The calla lily is the 6th wedding anniversary flower, symbolizing the beauty of a couple’s love.

Resources

Image Sources

Middle image: top left CC Image courtesy of 黃 zero on Flickr, top right CC Image courtesy of John on Flickr

Bottom image: bottom left CC Image courtesy of Paige Filler on Flickr, bottom middle left CC Image courtesy of Elliot on Flickr, bottom middle right CC Image courtesy of Tony Hisgett on Flickr, bottom right CC Image courtesy of Jitze Couperus on Flickr

Alcatraz Island’s Hidden Gem – The Gardens of Alcatraz

3 Apr 2018Educational, Experience

As early as 1869, military inmates began tending the Gardens of Alcatraz. Many of these inmate gardeners had no horticulture experience, but with vocational training and donated plants, they were able to transform the barren rock into extensive planted terraces, including a rose garden and cutting gardens overflowing with brightly colored flowers.

When the military left the Island to the federal Bureau of Prisons in 1933, the tradition of inmate gardening continued. Mr. Freddie Reichel, the first secretary to Warden Johnston, wanted to maintain the beautiful gardens left by the military, but realized he could not do it alone. With permission from the warden, he recruited maximum-security inmates. The work was a privilege. Not only did it allow inmates to be out of their cells and away from the tension of the prison, but it also offered them a chance to create beauty in a forbidding environment.

Reichel recruited inmate gardeners who proved to be natural plantsmen. Under the watch of guard towers, the inmates carved the Island’s west side slopes into terraces and cultivated blooming gardens.

To learn about some of the inmate’s stories as Alcatraz gardeners, please click on the links below:
Elliott Michener – http://alcatrazgardens.org/elliott-michener.php
Richard Franseen – http://alcatrazgardens.org/richard-franseen.php
Albert Smith – http://alcatrazgardens.org/albert-smith.php

Visiting the Gardens at Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island is open to visitors every day year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Although there is not an entrance fee for the garden tour, there is a charge for the ferry service, supplied by Alcatraz Cruises.

The best time to visit the Gardens of Alcatraz is from January to September and especially in the spring. The gardens are open for viewing, however, all year round.

Docent-led tours of the Island gardens are available twice a week on Friday and Sunday mornings at 9:45AM, starting at the Alcatraz dock. Those interested should take the first or second ferry departure of the day from Pier 33. The tours lead guests through all the restored gardens, including those that are off limits to most visitors. Visitors also have access to Officers’ Row every Wednesday from 11:00AM to 2:00PM, when a docent is present to answer questions.

Calla Planting Guide

Outdoor Beds

  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3″ to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Callas will not thrive in water logged soil.
  2. Site your callas tubers where they will receive filtered light or moderate shade. Calla lilies will burn in full sun.
  3. Dig holes and plant the callas shallowly, so the tops of the tubers are exposed. The tubers tend to have a rounded side and one filled with growing points or “eyes”. Plant with the eyes facing upwards.
  4. After planting, water the callas well, gently soaking the soil and settling it around the bulbs. Roots and top sprouts will form in the autumn in warm regions. Flowers are produced in the spring and summer.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut calla flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt the plants and having graceful, long lasting blooms to bring indoors is one of the best reasons to grow callas.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the tubers for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. Your callas will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.

Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns

  1. Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; anemones bulbs must never sit in waterlogged soil or they will rot.
  2. Site your callas tubers where they will receive filtered light or moderate shade. Calla lilies will burn in full sun.
  3. Dig holes and plant the callas shallowly, so the tops of the tubers are exposed. The tubers tend to have a rounded side and one filled with growing points or “eyes”. Plant with the eyes facing upwards.
  4. After planting, water the callas well, gently soaking the soil and settling it around the bulbs. Roots and top sprouts will form in the autumn in warm regions. Flowers are produced in the spring and summer.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut calla flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt the plants and having graceful, long lasting blooms to bring indoors is one of the best reasons to add callas to gardens and containers.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the tubers for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. Your callas will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.

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