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Zones 4-9, 12-24
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Moderate

Watsonia

Iridaceae
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials

Somewhat similar to gladiolus, but there are differences. Watsonia’s sword-shaped, 2 1/2 -ft.-long leaves are less rigid, and it has taller, slimmer flower spikes set with smaller, more trumpetlike, fragrant blossoms.

Watsonia pillansii, photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic
Watsonia pillansii, photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic

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Watsonia pillansii

Blooms in midsummer,with slightly branched, 3 1/2-ft. stems bearing 3-in., brightreddish apricot flowers. Hybridscome in colors ranging frompeach to nearly red. This speciescan take less moisture insummer after bloom is over.

Watsonia borbonica
Watsonia borbonica

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Watsonia pyramidata

Deciduous. Blooms in late spring, bearing 2 1/2 -in. flowers in pink, rosy red, or white on 4–6-ft. stems. Hybrid forms have pink, red, or lavender blooms. Foliage dies back after bloom, reappearing in fall. Does not need regular moisture during summer dormancy but accepts it if soil is well drained. In cold areas, treat like gladiolus: plant in spring for late spring and early summer bloom, then dig and store after the foliage dies down.

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