Calla Lily: Meaning, Symbolism, and Proper Occasions

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: August 23, 2023
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In the realm of flora, few blooms possess the captivating allure and enduring grace of the calla lily. With its elegantly curved petals and pristine hues, this flower has enraptured the hearts and imaginations of cultures spanning centuries. From ancient civilizations to modern times, the calla lily has emerged as a symbol of profound significance, transcending mere botanical beauty to embody a myriad of emotions and ideas.

With a rich history that dates back to ancient Greek mythology, the calla lily has woven its delicate tendrils through countless tales and legends. Often associated with the Greek goddess Hera, the flower is believed to represent purity, rebirth, and divine beauty. Its serene white petals, resembling angelic trumpets, have become synonymous with purity and innocence, making it a cherished symbol in weddings and other sacred ceremonies.

Beyond its purity, this beautiful and eye-catching lily carries with it an air of mystery and seduction. Its velvety, trumpet-like shape, delicately unfurling into a slender curve, evokes a sense of allure and temptation. From Victorian times, this mesmerizing flower has been associated with desire, passion, and sensuality, stirring the hearts of those who behold its enchanting presence.

With all of this in mind, let’s learn some more about what the calla lily is and its meaning and symbolism. We’ll also take a look at some occasions in which it would be appropriate to gift a calla lily.

What is a Calla Lily?

The perennial blooming plant known as the calla lily (a.k.a Zantedeschia aethiopica) is prized for its incredible beauty. It has gained popularity as an option for both indoor and outdoor gardening. This is thanks to its superb design and enticing hues.

Appearance

This species of lily stands out from other flowers thanks to its distinctive and identifiable look. Its funnel-shaped spathe, which surrounds a central spadix structure like a pair of fingers, is its most distinctive characteristic. The spathe can be any shade of color, including pure white, creamy yellow, pink, purple, and even black. On the other hand, the spadix often has a yellow or light green color.

The calla lily’s glossy, heart-shaped leaves are enormous and contribute to its attractiveness. They frequently protrude from the plant’s base on long, silky stalks. When in full bloom, the plant itself may grow to a height of two to three feet. The result produces a stunning show!

Native Habitat

Despite being a native of South Africa, this beautiful lily has achieved recognition on a global scale because of its beautiful appearance. It flourishes in marshy places, beside streams, and in damp soils in its native environment. Imitating these environments when growing calla lilies is essential for their health and successful blooming.

Growing Tips

Calla lilies like direct, strong light. Although they can withstand some darkness, it is advised to give them at least six hours of sunshine each day. This is for optimum development and flowering.

These lilies thrive well in rich, well-draining soil. Organic materials, like compost or peat moss, can be added to help the soil retain moisture and avoid flooding. Keeping the soil uniformly wet but not excessively saturated requires thorough irrigation. Watering should be done less frequently during the dormant season and more frequently during the growing season.

The ideal temperature range for this species of lily is between 60 and 75 degrees F. They are vulnerable to frost but can endure somewhat lower temperatures. They grow best in humid environments, thus humidifiers or spaces with increased relative humidity are perfect for growing them.

The appropriate fertilizer must be given to these plants for the calla lily to be healthy and capable of blooming. During the growing season, apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every three to four weeks. Doing so encourages robust growth and brilliant flowers. Avoid over-fertilizing since it might cause scorched or yellowed leaves.

Bury the tubers of your calla lilies two to four inches deep, eyes facing up. For adequate airflow, place them at least 12 to 18 inches apart. Every two to three years, repotting is advised to ensure the best possible growth and longevity of these flowers.

Can Calla Lilies Be Grown Outside?

Yes, calla lilies can be grown outdoors. While they are native to marshy areas and moist soils, they can adapt to a range of outdoor growing conditions. These stunning lilies are generally suited for USDA hardiness zones eight to 10, but some varieties can tolerate colder climates down to zone seven with proper protection. They prefer moderate temperatures and can withstand partial shade, but they thrive in areas with mild winters and warm summers.

Some varieties of calla lily (pictured) can come in orange or reddish hues instead of the typical white.

©Photo_Traveller/Shutterstock.com

Calla Lily Meaning and Symbolism

Calla lilies are not only admired for their beauty but also hold significant meaning and symbolism across various cultures and traditions. These graceful flowers have captured the imagination of many, representing different emotions and concepts. In this article, we will explore the rich symbolism associated with Calla Lilies, delving into their meanings and interpretations.

Elegance and Sophistication

Calla lilies are often regarded as a symbol of elegance and sophistication. Their sleek, elongated shape and pristine white color exude a sense of refinement and grace. These qualities have made them a popular choice for weddings, formal events, and elegant floral arrangements. This type of lily’s exquisite appearance adds an aura of beauty and class to any setting.

Purity and Innocence

One of the most prevalent symbolic meanings of calla lilies is purity and innocence. The pristine white variety, in particular, is often associated with purity of the soul, purity of intention, and a clean slate. It is no wonder that these flowers are frequently chosen for bridal bouquets and are commonly seen at weddings, signifying the purity and innocence of the couple embarking on their journey together.

Rebirth and Resurrection

Calla lilies also carry symbolism related to rebirth and resurrection. This symbolism stems from their life cycle, as they emerge from bulbs and go through periods of dormancy before blooming again. The process of renewal and revival is often associated with these flowers, making them appropriate for occasions of new beginnings or moments of transformation.

Majestic Beauty and Royalty

In some cultures, these unique and regal lilies are seen as a symbol of royalty and regal beauty. The tall, majestic stems and the elegant shape of the flower evoke a sense of grandeur and sophistication. In ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, calla lilies were associated with the goddess Hera, who was considered the queen of gods. Their royal symbolism makes them a fitting choice for special occasions and events that celebrate nobility and distinction.

Femininity and Sensuality

Calla lilies have a sensuous and feminine quality that has led to their association with femininity and beauty. The curvaceous form of the flower, resembling the shape of a woman’s body, has inspired artists and poets throughout history. These flowers have become a symbol of femininity, capturing the essence of elegance, grace, and allure.

Spiritual Significance

In certain spiritual practices and beliefs, calla lilies hold symbolic meanings beyond their aesthetic appeal. They are seen as a representation of the divine, purity of spirit, and the journey toward enlightenment. The calla lily’s upward-reaching shape and its association with purity and renewal align with the spiritual quest for transcendence and enlightenment.

Calla lilies embody a rich tapestry of meanings and symbolism, appealing to our aesthetic sensibilities and resonating with our deepest emotions. From elegance and purity to rebirth and femininity, these exquisite flowers hold different interpretations across cultures and contexts. Whether gifted as a token of love, displayed for special occasions, or used in artistic expressions, calla lilies continue to captivate hearts and minds with their symbolic significance, reminding us of the beauty and complexities of life.

Zantedeschia Aethiopica

Beautiful and vibrant calla lilies (pictured) symbolize elegance, purity, and rebirth, among other things.

©Fabrizio Guarisco/Shutterstock.com

Calla Lily Proper Occasions

Calla lilies are cherished for their exquisite beauty and symbolic meanings. These graceful flowers are versatile and suitable for various special occasions, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any event.

Weddings

Calla lilies are a popular choice for weddings, representing purity, innocence, and the start of a new chapter in life. The pristine white variety is often selected for bridal bouquets, bridesmaid arrangements, and centerpieces, symbolizing the purity and sacredness of love. These elegant flowers enhance the ambiance of wedding ceremonies, creating a romantic and sophisticated atmosphere.

Anniversaries

Whether it’s a milestone anniversary or a yearly celebration, calla lilies make a meaningful gift for couples who have journeyed through years of love and commitment. Their elegance and beauty reflect the lasting bond and grace that comes with time. Calla lilies can be arranged in bouquets or used as decorations to adorn anniversary celebrations, reminding the couple of their enduring love.

Birthdays

Calla lilies make a stunning birthday gift, conveying admiration and appreciation for the recipient. Their graceful form and vibrant colors bring joy and beauty to the occasion. Whether presented as a bouquet or as a single stem, calla lilies are a sophisticated and memorable gift that can brighten the birthday celebration.

Graduations

As students embark on a new chapter in their lives, calla lilies can serve as a symbolic gift to commemorate their accomplishments. The flowers’ association with purity, elegance, and new beginnings makes them a fitting choice for graduation ceremonies or as presents for graduates. Calla lilies can be incorporated into floral arrangements or used as boutonnieres, adding a touch of sophistication to graduation festivities.

Funerals and Memorials

In times of loss and grief, calla lilies offer solace and serve as a meaningful tribute to the departed. Their serene and delicate appearance conveys sympathy and remembrance, offering comfort to those who are mourning. Calla lilies can be included in funeral arrangements, wreaths, or placed near the memorial site as a graceful expression of love and respect.

Corporate Events

Calla lilies are often chosen for corporate events, conferences, or formal gatherings, as they exude an air of sophistication and professionalism. Their sleek and elegant form adds a touch of class to table centerpieces or event decorations, creating a refined and stylish atmosphere. calla lilies are also suitable for gifting to clients or business partners, symbolizing appreciation and respect.

Calla lilies are versatile flowers that can be incorporated into various special occasions. From weddings and anniversaries to birthdays and graduations, these elegant blooms bring timeless elegance to any event. Whether given as a gift or used as decorative elements, calla lilies convey messages of purity, love, achievement, and sympathy, making them a cherished choice for memorable moments in life.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fabrizio Guarisco/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

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