Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials
These natives of South Africa are 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.
Tolerates many soils but prefers good drainage. Plant in early autumn, setting corms 4 in. deep and 6 in. apart. Where hardy, corms can be left undisturbed for many years.
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 colder areas, treat like gladiolus: plant in spring for late spring and early summer bloom, then dig and store after the foliage dies down.
Evergreen. Blooms in midsummer, with slightly branched, 3 1/2-ft. stems bearing 3-in., bright reddish apricot flowers. Hybrids come in colors ranging from peach to nearly red. This species can take less moisture in summer after bloom is over. Because W. pillansii is evergreen, it cannot be dug and stored.
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