After more than 12 years of work, the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station (TSIP) said it has successfully developed two kinds of colored Zantedeschia aethiopica, commonly called the calla lily, that could be grown in Taiwan.
While the usual calla lily is white, one of the new varieties, called Taoji (桃姬), is a deep, vibrant red, and the other, called Xiangjishi (香吉士), is a yellowish-orange. The new lilies are hybrids grown from cross-pollinating Zantedeschia aethiopica from the Netherlands, the US and New Zealand.
The TSIP said it discovered there was a huge market for colored calla lilies when farmers imported the first of its kind into Taiwan in 1986, adding that cut flowers — flowers arranged in vases, bowls, baskets or bouquets — from the calla lily were imported by countries like Japan.
However, because the lilies were mostly imported, the overhead costs tended to be high, it said.
TSIP researcher Liu Ming-tsung (劉明宗) said that in 1999, the station started cross-pollination with calla lilies from three other countries to grow a vibrantly colored calla lily that suit Taiwan’s sub-tropical weather.
By 2007, it succeeded in growing the Taoji and Xiangjishi and cataloged the new varieties, Liu said, although during the initial period, there was no mass production of the two kinds of flowers and the station spent another four years growing a few pots that had already flowered, as well as between 2,000 and 3,000 seedlings.
“We only began authorizing farmers to start planting once we had enough stock to provide them,” Liu said.
Liu said it would take two or three years for the seedlings to bloom and that the best time for planting was in autumn and winter, adding that if the seedlings were planted in October, they would flower between December and February of the following year.
The flowers can be cut or kept as an indoor potted plant, he added.
Liu said he was excited that the nation’s plains could be covered with a sea of vibrantly colored calla lilies as seen on Yangmingshan’s Zhuzihu (竹子湖), which features an annual Calla Lily Festival at this time of the year.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer