Marsh calla lily - Calla palustris


Rhizomatous aquatic perennial plant, native to North America, Europe, and northern Asia, with underground rhizomes at the bottom of tranquil or floating lakes; it has leaves with long petioles, fleshy and waxy, heart-shaped. In spring it produces long spadix inflorescences, with a long white spade that wraps them; in autumn the spadix is ​​covered with small red fruits, inside which only one seed is contained.
The marsh calla is an aquatic herbaceous plant native to the American continent and in particular to the swampy areas of Canada, Alaska and the northeastern states of the U.S.A. It prefers temperate climates and shallow waters.
It spread from the northern to the eastern and southern regions. It is a rather rare plant, but today it can also be found in France, in Scandinavia, in Siberia and in China, even to Japan, as long as there are suitable climatic and soil conditions.
However, due to the pollution and reclamation of many marshy areas, this essence has been and is currently still among the most endangered. It is therefore extremely important to preserve its habitat and avoid taking specimens in the wild. Let us supply only specialized dealers.

Calla palustris

There calla palustris It is an aquatic plant, relatively small in size: it can in fact go from 15 to 45 cm in height, although it is very rare that it exceeds thirty.
It is characterized by erect and slightly screwed leaves on themselves, round or heart-shaped and with a rather long petiole. The upper page is of a beautiful bright green, the lower one is lighter with a slight down.

Very rustic, but the rhizome must be protected from ice
Exposure Full sun, half shade in the South
Ground Moist, acid or sub-acid. Not brackish or calcareous
Composting In spring with aquatic products
colors White flowers and bright green leaves
Flowering Spring Summer
Propagation Division of the rhizome, seeding

Exposure Calla palustris

The marsh calla lilies love the sunny ponds, preferably with still and calm water, since running water can easily ruin the roots or otherwise compromise their growth. It is a rustic plant, so it does not fear the cold, although it is advisable to protect it if the water is too low and tends to freeze completely.
To have a quick expansion it is good to place the swamp calla lily in a very hot and sunny area. The ideal is that it receives sun for the whole day.
If it is not possible, however, it is able to settle even for only four or five hours of direct sunlight per day, clearly its expansion and flowering will be slower and less abundant.
We avoid positions that are too shaded. It is possible that the plant does not die but will hardly be able to produce spate and more often than not the leaves will be spun or of a green too light and in any case not very decorative.

Calla land

The streets do not need particular soil, although they usually prefer a slightly acid soil. They should be planted in large containers filled with universal soil mixed with sand, which should be sunk into a not too deep pond. Or you can plant them directly, even on the shores of a lake.
It prefers rich soils, possibly peaty and where calcium is reduced to a minimum. It is however very tolerant and generally adapts well to slimy or sandy areas.
In order to grow and expand at its best, it is necessary to prefer shallow and never brackish lakes. In fact, it is very sensitive to the presence of sodium, which quickly leads to deterioration or a sharp decrease in growth.
Substrates that are too dry should also be avoided.


it occurs by division of the rhizomes in autumn, leaving part of the roots on each portion practiced, the new rhizomes thus produced should be rooted in a container full of water and then planted the following spring. In autumn it can also be sown, using fresh seeds extracted from the pulp of small fruits, they are made to germinate in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts, always kept moist until the following spring; the new plants are buried at the bottom of a pond or on the edges, letting the leaves emerge from the surface of the water.

Pests and diseases

They do not fear particular diseases, but sometimes they are eaten by snails or by larvae that feed on rhizomes.
Like many sun-loving plants it can become prey to aphids. These, feeding on the sap, weaken it as well as transmitting diseases, such as viral diseases.
Unfortunately, fighting these insects is more difficult when we talk about aquatic flora. The risk of damaging the environment is in fact much higher.
The ideal is to try to create a healthy ecosystem with natural predators such as frogs, toads and fish.
If it were impossible or the situation proved to be difficult to control, we can distribute small amounts of insecticide based on natural pyrethrins.

Calla palustris flowers

The flowering is very prolonged and begins in mid-spring to run out at the end of the summer. The plants begin to produce spate when they reach maturity, then around the second or third year of planting.
The inflorescences are composed of a short spadix of pure white color with a yellow-greenish trumpet-shaped heart, very similar to that of the zantedeschia.

Fruits calla palustris

The plant is dioecious and there are therefore female flowers and male flowers. From the first, in autumn, the fruits develop: small red or orange berries, very lively and decorative. However, extreme care must be taken because they contain very toxic alkaloids and therefore could pose a danger to children and pets.

Roots and growth habit

The root is a rather resistant fleshy rhizome that allows the plant to expand quickly in all directions and occupy, if the conditions are ideal, all the available space.
It is in fact a very fast-growing plant, useful for covering large water surfaces. It is ideal to insert in small containers, in ponds and ponds, especially if the waters are slightly acidified. It does not tolerate the massive presence of limestone and strong currents: consequently it is not suitable for streams or lakes with too much movement.


Once the marsh calla was part of the same genus as the Zantedeschia. Following genetic studies, however, it was decided to create two separate and autonomous genera. He is currently part of the Araceae family, gen. calla sp. Palustris. The genus is currently monospecific.


The calla palustris wants rather shallow waters. The ideal depth ranges from 5 to 10 cm, however in a calm body of water, without currents.
To promote good growth we choose an area reached by the sun for at least five hours a day, possibly during the afternoon.
How and when to proceed?
The best time for this operation is undoubtedly the end of winter, but, if necessary, we can also proceed until mid-spring.
We choose an area where the soil is acidic, but rich in humus and possibly with a good amount of peat. We insert the seedling so that the collar remains completely covered by the substrate.
The ideal is to use the appropriate baskets for aquatic plants. They give us the opportunity to prepare the planting in the best possible way, and then proceed only with the positioning on site; furthermore they greatly facilitate the extraction of the seedlings if maintenance (division or cleaning of the roots) is necessary.
In order for the area to be immediately very dense the ideal is to insert 8 to 10 rhizomes per square meter.

Fertilizing calla

Fertilization can be very useful to stimulate the growth and flowering of these herbaceous plants.
The best time to administer these products is without a doubt spring.
On the market there are packages specifically designed to be inserted between the roots: in this way they will remain anchored to that area and will feed only the specimens we have chosen.
To work better the ideal is to extract the basket with all its contents, insert the fertilizer under the rhizome and cover it with gravel to keep it still.
If we want we can package an ad hoc product ourselves. We need to get some very clayey and moldable soil: we will mix it with our granular fertilizer. We compress well and leave some time to dry. We can then insert the ball into the baskets as described above ...


Calla palustris is native to the northern areas of the northern hemisphere. It is very common, for example, in Alaska, in the Scandinavian countries and in the north-east of China. We can therefore say that it is an absolutely rustic plant and suitable for cultivation throughout our country, including alpine areas (even above 1000 meters).
However, we would like to point out that the rhizome is quite sensitive to frost and should never come into direct contact with ice.
Then place the jars directly in water (at 10 cm depth) only if the pond is very deep and does not risk freezing completely. Otherwise it is advisable to insert the seedlings on the edge of the pond, where the substrate is well moist, but the water does not arrive directly.
On the contrary it could be sensitive to high temperatures ... If we live in the South or in coastal areas it may be a good idea to place them where they are slightly more sheltered from the sun's rays. In this way we will avoid leaf burns and the excessive spread of parasites such as aphids.

Maintenance and cultivation care

The maintenance is rather simple because, once the rooting has taken place, they prove to be extremely resistant and rather accommodating plants.
You will have to intervene only when the bush has become too thick. At that point it will be necessary to extract the plants and divide the rhizomes, then insert them again.
To prolong flowering, if we wish, we can work to remove exhausted flowers. In this way we will avoid seed production.


To get new seedlings you can follow two roads. The first is sowing, the second is the division of the rhizome.
The first actually requires a lot of experience and rarely gives satisfactory results. It is also necessary to wait at least four years to see the appearance of the first flowers.
The advice, therefore, is to dedicate oneself to the division, very simple and capable of giving good results within two years.
The rhizomes must be taken and the mother divided from the smaller ones that have formed outside. We always take care that each portion has at least one root and one eye.
We can then plant them in smaller baskets and provide them with a good dose of slow release granular fertilizer, so that growth is stimulated. We prefer products with a good amount of potassium.

Marsh calla lily - Calla palustris: Calla palustris Poisonous plant

Particular attention must be paid to this plant because it is extremely poisonous, in all its parts. In fact it contains strong doses of calcium oxalate.
We keep the pond always clean by removing the withered flowers. We will avoid them going to seed. Their red color often draws children and pets and could cause dangerous accidents. Watch the Video