Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Welcome back, fans of flowers, the alphabet or perhaps both! Did you guess that the letter “c” would be for calla?
The calla lily (or zantedeschia) is an elegant, noble flower from the family Araceae, which is native to southern Africa. Callas tend to flourish in warm climates and are primarily grown in California, Colombia, New Zealand and South Africa. However, the calla sprouts from a very strong and sturdy plant and is capable of growing in a variety of soils and habitats, even surviving frosts in some areas! Most people recognize the creamy, ivory-colored calla (made famous by many Latin American artists and ranging in size from enormous to mini) but they also come in wonderfully exotic colors — shades of orange, peach, yellow, magenta and “black.”

For today’s post, I’ve chosen a selection of the rare colors that felt appropriate for fall. I adore this flower’s simplicity and sophistication and the fact that you can do almost no work and arrive at a classic arrangement. Simply gather a mass of callas in a clear vase and enjoy their clean lines. Here, I will discuss some calla basics and show you fun techniques for creating modern, architectural designs.

We should note the stems of the calla — they are spongy and porous and drink a lot of water. As always, cut them at an angle with a sharp implement. Later, I will demonstrate the flexibility of the stem and how to use it in your design.Callas range in size and scale, as illustrated by the sampling of cut stems below. The smaller the width, the more flexible the stem.

Today’s colors are black, peach and maroon. I prefer not to mix colors when designing with callas, as I like each hue to shine on its own.

You have a wide range of options when using ribbon or other fabric to gather callas. Here, I have taken satin ribbon, wrapped it several times around the cluster and tied a knot. I like the way the tendrils look hanging to the table.

A chic way to display callas is to simply tie them with a ribbon, as I have done below, and lean them at an angle in a tall vase. Because callas have such straight lines, it is fabulously unexpected to create angles and curves in your design.

Tropical leaves are a great accent for a calla arrangement. Any kind of waxy leaf will do — ti leaves, philodendron or even lily grass. Most florists have a selection of similar greens from which to choose.

Because I have begun a theme of “restraint” here, I decided to also gather and wrap the leaves with floral tape before pairing them with the callas.

Simply place the gathering of leaves at an angle in the vase next to the callas. Cut the stems of the leaves short enough so that they can nest together with the callas. Place them so they peek out of the vase just below the calla blooms. You may also choose to fan them a bit more than I have here.

Another way to work with callas is to use the smaller, more flexible stems and curl them into interesting shapes. Pull a few stems from the vase and work them with your hands. Get a feel for how wiggling the end back and forth makes the stem more and more malleable.

I worked with these black callas for only a few moments, bending the stems back and forth to get them pliable. Then I placed them in a low, curved glass vase. I pressed them into place along the edge of the vase with my hands.

 It may take a few tries to get the callas to prop up in the vase, but the effect is really dramatic. Only the ends need to be submerged, so have fun with the design! Here, I have seated the blooms just above the edge of the vase.

 The maroon callas had slightly thinner stems, making them even easier to form.

Then I added this bound cluster at an opposing angle to the curved cluster already in the vase. I like the sculptural, yet understated look of this arrangement.

 Finally, I made a little mischief by adding a surprising third element to the vase :) I gathered some of the cut calla stems “from the garbage” and bound them with floral tape, as well. I placed this little bundle in the water with the callas.

You can start to see that designing with callas gives you a great deal of control — you can use them as they are found in nature, or manipulate them to suit your vision. They are great flowers for experimentation.

 How fantastic is this bundle of peach calla joy?

The most important thing to remember when working with flowers is that it should be enjoyable! Do not be afraid of making “mistakes.” The more you put your hands on the blooms, mess with them and maybe break a few rules here and there, the more your inspiration can blossom.
Join me again tomorrow when “d” will be for . . .


  1. Stopping by to say hi on the A-Z challenge. You put my brief posts to shame! Love the calla photos.

  2. You are a talented woman with a lot of knowledge! The callas are beautiful, I did not know they grew in other colors besides white.

  3. Thank you Bob and Diana... You coming back keeps me wanting to push things a tad bit more towards being awesome !!

  4. Hi everybody. Thank you so much for your support. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine this to be such an heart warming experience reading all your comments etc especially through the A to Z Challenge . Do feel free to enjoy reading and commenting on Wilderness on . Spread the word..and some love !



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