Calla lilies, a native flower to South America, have a distinctive flared shape consisting of what looks like one petal wrapped around a center spadex. The spadex is tube shaped, yellow and fuzzy. The flower is from 4 to 6 inches in length on a stem from 12 to 24 inches long. The leaves are somewhat curved. While white is the color people think of with calla lilies they also bloom in yellow, pink, purple and orange. If calla lilies are not available, several alternatives are available.
Calla lilies are large bold flowers. They hold their shape, have strong stems and remain open when out of direct sunlight. These qualities make them useful in bouquets and floral arrangements. Use an alternative flower that is also bold and does well as a cut flower, such as oriental lilies, Asiatic lilies or gerbera daisies. All bloom in white as well as pink, yellow and purple as calla lilies do. If white calla lilies need an alternative in a wedding bouquet, for example, use a flower that follows the trumpet shape of the calla lily and arches. White snapdragons or a spray of white orchids would be appropriate choices.
Calla lilies prefer partial shade with lots of moisture. Replace white calla lilies with gardenias which also have the velvety texture, thick petals and clear white color of white calla lilies. Other alternatives include caladiums which have white leaves outlined and or variegated with green. Both gardenias and caladiums prefer partial shade. Gardenias have the added bonus of a deep floral fragrance. Hostas are shade plants that have the rounded leaves similar to the leaves of calla lilies. Although hosta leaves are broader they curve inward like calla lily leaves. Several varieties of hostas bloom with bell shaped flowers in white, purple or pink.
If you’d like calla lilies but don’t have the very moist soil they prefer and partial shade, another flower that would work are angel trumpets. The flowers are trumpet shaped like calla lilies, but instead of facing upward angel trumpets hang downward from the branches. Easter lilies are trumpet shaped as well and bloom in late summer.
Calla lilies are grown as house plants. Their drawback is they wither and go dormant after blooming. If you’d prefer a plant that doesn’t go dormant and has long lasting flowers, sometimes for up to a month, an orchid is a good choice. The leaves of orchids look a bit like the leaves of calla lilies. Anthurium is a tropical plant used as a houseplant. The flower has a spadex that is similar to calla lilies and it’s about the same size.