What Is the Meaning Behind Calla Lily Flowers? (And 7 Occasions To Send Calla Lilies)

If you’re looking for a genuinely unique flower, the calla lily delivers. With a single petal that wraps to create a beautiful statement, these blooms are both recognizable and unparalleled. Giving—or receiving—a bouquet of calla lilies can be quite the surprise. It’s a refreshing alternative to more common flowers, and what they symbolize may astound you.

What other plants are similar to the calla lily flower?

Although the word is in the name, the calla is not a true lily. These blooms are more closely related to caladium and philodendron, which are more leaflike. However, the calla lily flower’s petal is similar to a large leaf, so the close relationship makes sense. We would consider the colorful petal a modified leaf, and the actual flower is the spike in the center. 

white calla lily flower meaning

What is the meaning of calla lilies? 

The Calla Lily Symbol in Religion

Calla lilies are, of course, gorgeous blooms, so it’s fitting that the word “calla” means beauty in Greek. Many may recognize the stately calla lily flower because it is prominent in religious images that depict Christ’s resurrection. This symbolism is why many identify Easter with the calla lily. The Virgin Mary is also often portrayed holding the bloom. 

Another symbolic calla lily meaning is that of rebirth and resurrection, which also gives nods to Christ. However, these blooms give hope to grieving families, and it is for this reason, many funeral arrangements include the calla lily flower.

white calla lily flower meaning

They are also often spotted in wedding bouquets as the bloom represents devotion and bliss. The calla lily flower is the official bloom to represent a sixth wedding anniversary. Because of the flower’s uniqueness, it is often used to mark life’s rites of passage.

More broadly, the calla lily meaning is purity, holiness, and faithfulness, which goes back to its religious significance. However, there is an opposing school of thought about what the calla lily meaning truly is, which goes back to its Greek roots.

The Calla Lily Meaning According to Mythology

In Greek mythology, Zeus was married to Hera, but he conceived his son, Hercules, with an earthly woman. Because Hercules was half-human, he lacked the divine powers of a true Greek god. While Hera was sleeping, Zeus—hoping that Hera’s milk would give his son power—brought Hercules to nurse from Hera.

calla lily flower bouquet

When she woke up, she flung the baby off her, which resulted in Hera’s milk spraying across the sky. Each droplet grew as a calla lily. The gorgeous blooms made Venus—the goddess of love and beauty—so envious that she cursed the flower with an unsightly spike in the middle.

Ancient cultures saw the spike’s phallic nature, so the Egyptians associated the calla lily symbol with fertility, and the Romans paired the flower with sexuality. You may never look at the calla lily flower in the same way again after that explanation! 

What colors are there for calla lilies? 

Although white is most common, there are several other calla lily colors, each with their symbolism. So, what’s the meaning of each color? Let’s find out.

  • White represents purity, faithfulness, innocence, and holiness. 
  • Purple depicts charm, royalty, and passion.
  • Yellow signifies thankfulness and gratitude. 
  • Red portrays courage and beauty.
  • Pink symbolizes admiration and appreciation. 
  • Black conveys elegance and mystery. 

purple calla lily flower meaning

What flowers pair well with calla lilies? 

Calla lilies pair well with roses for romantic and elegant bouquets. For an interesting combination, the Power Couple arrangement features white calla lilies and pink roses. When it comes to weddings, calla lily flowers reside alongside white roses and ranunculus. 

They also pair well with full blooms, such as peonies and hydrangea. However, it’s not only flowers that look great with calla lilies. Greenery, such as eucalyptus and ivy, can add a bit of wispiness to an arrangement that includes structured callas. 

calla lily and pink roses

On what occasions should I send calla lilies?

  • Funerals: Since the calla lily symbolizes rebirth, they give hope to grieving families. The religious associations also make the flower appropriate to give when someone passes. 
  • Weddings: Because the calla lily flower means purity and innocence, it often appears at weddings. However, it’s also a lovely bloom to send to congratulate the happy couple. 
  • Anniversaries: Of course, the calla lily is the sixth-anniversary flower, but it’s also an appropriate gift to honor a couple no matter how long they’ve been married.
  • Easter: Again, due to the symbolism and association with Christ and Mary, they are appropriate for any religious holiday, including Easter.
  • Valentine’s Day: Pink means admiration, which makes it a fabulous Valentine flower. You could also give red or purple to your love. If you want to send an arrangement as a secret admirer, black is the way to go. 
  • Retirements: Gratitude is commonly expressed after someone gives years of service. Therefore, yellow calla lilies are ideal to say how thankful you are. 
  • Birthdays: Depending on whose birthday it is, send an appropriate color to show love, gratefulness, or appreciation.

calla lily romantic bouquet

Our Calla Lily Flower Arrangements

We have several calla lily flower bouquets that are perfect for gifting. Surprise your loved one with a gorgeous arrangement of these unique stems. Our Calla-Fornia Love selection has a variety of colors, and the Making Magic features purple blooms. For an interesting combination, the Power Couple arrangement features white calla lilies alongside vibrant pink roses. No matter which you choose, the recipient will be delighted by such a historically symbolic bloom.