What Is an Arum Lily?

Arum lilies (also known as Zantedeschia aethiopica in the family Araceae) are beautiful, perennial (year-round) bulb plant with a brilliant white flower-like bulb. A common mistake is thinking the white ‘sheath’ is the lily’s flower – it’s not! The flower of the arum lily is a long, pointed spike or spadix which is made up of many smaller flowers. The spadix is then surrounded by a large, and beautiful sheathe which is the white ‘flower’ we see.

Just don’t try to taste them, as they’re poisonous!


How Do I Care for It?

General Care

  • Handle with care; lilies are delicate plants and bruise easily.
  • Arum lilies are love water, and are often found close to bodies of water.
  • They are best grown in partial to full sunlight.
  • They are sensitive to extreme temperatures (hot and cold).
  • To prune, wait until the plant has flowered, and the blooms have withered.
  • Once flowered, remove dead branches and reshape the lily so it is not excessively brushing against other plants.
  • Remove the head of the lilies after the flowers have withered, to allow energy to be directed to new growth.

Indoor Care

  • If the lily is in a vase, the bottom of the stem needs to be trimmed often as their stems are sappy, to ensure it is drawing water. A centimetre off every few days will suffice.
  • Change the water after you have trimmed the stems.
  • If the lily is in a pot, make sure to use loam-based potting mix.
  • A potted lily can be kept on a non-windy balcony, veranda or small garden.

Outdoor Care

  • Plant outside during the beginning of the spring season.
  • Plant 15cm deep and leave 30cm – 40cm between plants to give space for leaves.
  • Plant in a cool area in full to partial sunlight.
  • Avoid planting in dry soil. Instead use a moist, humus-rich soil.
  • Water sparingly in the beginning but change to water generously when the first flower appears.
  • Can be planted adjacent to a pond, stream or lake.

Are Arum Lilies Toxic?

A very important aspect of owning an arum lily is being aware of its toxicity. The Arum lily can make humans and animals extremely ill and can sometimes result in death. Exposure to the pollen can cause the skin to develop dermatitis and eczema while ingesting can cause irritation, burning and swelling of the mouth and throat, breathing difficulties, severe nausea, vomiting and stomach pain, diarrhoea, shock and exhaustion, and death. Keep these plants out of reach of small children, and monitor pets.


Want more flower tips? We have a post which tells you how to take care of your orchids. Visit our home page and explore the Rambling Rose for more gift ideas and tips!

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