One of the most eye-catching flower types that aren’t a true lily is the calla lily. These beautiful plants are a favorite of gardeners, florists, wedding designers, and houseplant lovers everywhere, and it’s not hard to see why.
But what does the calla lily mean?
The Calla Lily At A Glance
Calla lily flowers are associated with grace, peace, and harmony, but there are many more associations linked with these beautiful flowers that we’ll explore in more detail.
These plants, while they may look unusual enough to be lilies, are from a completely different plant family. The flowers that form are technically spathes and come in a huge range of colors.
Most of these beautiful plants are very susceptible to frost, so if you do live somewhere colder, you can either bring them indoors or in a frost-proof shed.
Where Does The Name Come From?
The calla lily may get its name from the Greek word kallos, which means beauty, but there is another potential origin.
Some people have theorized that the calla lily gets its name from Calliope, the Greek Muse who is concerned with poetry and eloquence. Others associate this plant with the Greek goddess Hera.
These flowers hail from South Africa, and form part of the Zantedeschia plant genus. They were originally classified as part of the lily family, hence the common name, but it was soon discovered that they aren’t related to the lily family at all.
The calla lily name is interchangeable for two species out of the eight in the genus, namely Zantedeschia elliottiana and Zantedeschia rehmannii.
Calla Lily Flower Meaning
Calla lilies are gorgeous plants that have been admired across the world for centuries (see also Growing Calla Lilies). You’ll find them the focus of different versions of Greek myths.
One particularly famous one is that Zeus brought the baby Hercules to his wife, Hera, to drink her milk and grow up strong.
He did this while Hera was sleeping because he knew that his wife wouldn’t exactly be pleased, as Hercules was not her child, and to make things worse, Hercules was the direct evidence of Zeus cheating on her.
Inevitably, Hera woke up, and furiously pushed him away. The drops of milk that were spilled formed both the Milky Way and the lilies on the ground, depending on where they landed.
In Roman mythology, it’s said that the goddess of love and desire Venus hated the lilies at first sight because she was envious of how beautiful they were.
She attempted to make them ugly by creating the yellow pistil that sits in the middle of each bloom, and it’s this very trait, along with the connection to Venus, that links these flowers with desire and sexuality.
In the Victorian language of flowers, the calla lilies were a message of sexual desire, sent by women to confess their deepest passion for someone.
They have also been the subject of many famous paintings, especially those of Diego Rivera and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Nowadays, calla lilies symbolize beauty, grace, devotion, charm, love, rebirth, and a noble character, but the meaning also depends on the color of the flower.
White Calla Lily Flower Meaning
One of the most popular colors for calla lilies is white, which forms the main part of many wedding decorations because of its association with spirituality, grace, and renewal.
It’s interesting to note that white calla lilies are used both for weddings and funerals, so they can symbolize both endings and new beginnings in life.
The Meaning Behind A Purple Calla Lily
Purple calla lilies, depending on the shade, may represent a noble character, desire, or charm, and the darkest shades are usually reserved for funerals.
Pink Calla Lily Flower Meaning
Pink calla lilies represent affection, admiration, beauty, and wanting to know someone on a deeper level.
Yellow Calla Lily Symbolism
Yellow calla lilies, like many flowers in this cheery color, represent joy, platonic affection, optimism, and gratitude.
Orange Calla Lily Symbolism
Orange calla lilies symbolize looking forward to the future, positive energy, creativity, and happiness.
Red Calla Lily Symbolism
As you might imagine, red calla lilies represent romance, the deepest desire for someone, and devotion.
Best avoid sending the red calla lilies to someone you’re not romantically interested in, otherwise, you may find yourself sending the wrong message!
Calla Lily Tattoo Symbolism
A calla lily is an excellent choice for a tattoo, especially if you’re not someone who likes roses, and you want something a little more unusual.
Calla lilies are a celebration of the unusual, love and romance, creativity, and a little magic, too. You might get a calla lily tattoo to honor your deepest feelings for someone, or to celebrate their or your unique qualities.
The color of the flowers is also important, so consider the associations above. Some people believe that a tattoo of a calla lily represents a closely guarded secret or an unknown that you like the mystery of.
When To Give Someone A Calla Lily
Calla lilies are beautiful flowers that can serve as nearly any kind of gift you can imagine. They are sold as both flower arrangements and plants, so there is a type for anything you can think of.
Largely, a plant bought as a gift will last much longer than bouquets, so keep this in mind.
Calla lilies are perfect when you want to make someone feel appreciated, loved, and celebrated.
You might give someone calla lilies when you want to be their biggest cheerleader, celebrate their wins, and send as a heartfelt thank you for when they’ve done something amazing for you.
You may even send calla lilies to someone you want to reconnect with, as their unusual appearance is a good conversation opener.
Some people use calla lilies to celebrate the sixth year of a wedding anniversary, to symbolize their desire, love, and affection.
Calla lilies are sold the most during the Mother’s Day season, but they are largely available all year round, depending on where you live.