Calla lily (arum lily) are a flowering plant species native to South Africa with trumpet-shaped blooms that come in a variety of colors, including white, shades of pink, yellow, and even deep purples.
What sets Calla lilies apart are their unique, arrow-shaped leaves, which add an architectural element to gardens and floral arrangements. These lush, dark green leaves provide a beautiful backdrop to the splendid large flowers, creating an interesting contrast.
Photo by Zetong Li
So one notable attribute of Calla lilies, especially for gardeners dealing with deer infestations, is their deer resistance!
These plants are often classified as deer-proof due to their unappetizing taste and toxicity to animals. While no plant is completely impervious to deer, Calla lilies are generally not their first (or second, or third) choice, making them a valuable addition to gardens in deer-prone areas.
Photo by Ashley Levinson
On our farm, Calla lillies grow inside deer paddocks like weeds. The animals ignore them completely.
So no wonder that here in New Zealand and in western Australia, Calla lily is seen as an aggressive invader of riparian areas and pastureland.
"Long-lived and persists under regenerating canopy, forming dense patches excluding other vegetation. Tolerates wet, wind, salt, hot to cold, most soil types and moderate shade, and is drought-resistant once established. Stock avoid it as it is poisonous, allowing it to gradually dominate grazed sites." [ source ]
In US, while this plant is invasive in California, in cooler states it can actually "behave itself" and be grown as an annual [ source ]
We mention invasiveness feature as another testimony to the fact that these plants are deer resistant if not deer proof. It's easy to become invasive if nothing wants to eat you.
Here, found an accidental shot of more lillies in deer paddocks. They grow and grow, deer are not interested in them.
So if the look and feel of arum lillies appeal to you, go ahead and plant them for a deer resistant garden. These lillies are generally hardy in zones 8 to 10 according to Gardenia, and there you can read all about how to plant and care for them.
Published 16 September 2023