An Anomaly

Infrequently, we find a freak in the garden.

The latest was found yesterday.

I mean an irregularly formed flower.

Sometimes calla blooms curl down as they get heavy with seed or full of water.


A normal bloom looks like this from the top.  A folded spathe around a spadix.

NORMAL Calla bloom

I went to stake a droopy Hot Chocolate bloom back up and found a surprise.

DOUBLE calla bloom/two spathes

The bloom included a double spathe.



FLOWER loves her freaks, too.

Hot Chocolate Calla

This is one of my very favorite plants in my garden.

Zantedeschia  ‘Hot Chocolate Calla’.


I have many clumps of them around my gardens. Most are located in partial sun with good drainage.  I leave them out over the winter here in Zone 7.

I did dig up dozens of round rhizomes last fall to share as gifts at a Christmas gathering.

The deep, dark burgundy blooms look almost black in low light.


The bright green leaves have clear streaks that appear silver.

Their 2′ to 3′ height means they fit in well as the second or third line back in a bed.


The spathe and spadix blooms have a lovely shape from any point of view.


The blooms rise above the leaves and stand out on their tall stems.


I have several other callas which will bloom later.

Hot Chocolate is by far my best bloomer.




Before or After?

Frost is a four letter word to a gardener.  (Ok.  Not really, but you know what I mean.)

There are many tender plants that need to be lifted BEFORE frost.

There are also plants that must be “bitten” by frost,

and then taken inside AFTER the first frost.

This count-down is not quite as dramatic as the “Countdown to 32″/freezing

that I blogged about last fall, but it is an important time for bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers.

I finally wrote a BEFORE and an AFTER list inside the cover of my gardening journal.

Here is my ‘rule of thumb”.  (Gold Nugget is what this was called when I taught biology.)


If mostly water (turgor) holds up the plant, it needs to be bitten and wilted down by Mr. Frost.

Also: Does the plant look “done” for the season? Did it bloom weeks ago and is the foliage wilting down? DONE.

I know this is too simplistic. What it means is,  if you cut down plants with juicy stems you will be hauling in a lot of water.  The plant needs to bring in nutrients and drain its own water out to start dormancy.

Also, frost seals the tissues to prevent rot.   Think of it as a “cold cauterizing.”

When the time is right .   Dig up the bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes.


Clean off the soil, wash, dry and store in labeled bags with dry peat moss.


Here are MY lists for ZONE 7.

BEFORE:  Callas/Zantedeschias (Hot Chocolate can stay out, but bring one in as your stock plant just in case),  Acidantheras,  Glodiolas ( babies and mamas)

AFTER: Elephant Ears/Calocasias,  Dahlias,  Tuberoses (babies only)

Your lists will be different based on your HARDINESS ZONE.

I always err on the side of caution and bring in some of each of my special plants to use as stock plants.

Wet winters can be as bad as cold ones because roots rot.



Thomas Edison Dahlia

1.  Before  or  After?

Hot Chocolate Calla

2. Before or After?

Priscilla Gladiola

3.  Before or After?

Featured Image -- 378
Mojito Elephant Ear

4. Before or After?


(Answers =1 dahlias/after , 2 callas/before, 3 glads/before, 4 elephant ears/after)






Crazy for Callas

These Zantedeschias are stealing the show away from the daylilies this week.


Calla is the Greek word for beautiful.  They are living up to their name.


The bloom is really a spathe(bract)


and spadix with tiny blooms.


The point on the spathe holds a drop of dew in the morning.


The variegation of the ‘Hot Chocolate’ leaves looks silver and is really clear spots in the leaves.


The colors of the spathe of ‘Captain Romance’ shift from green to pink.


These are not really lilies and they don’t come from bulbs.

Their round rhizomes are poisonous, so be careful where you store and plant them.

I always take a few in over the winter, but leave most of them out.  I am in zone 7.IMG_0335

Follow the FLOWER.