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Watsonia pillansii (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic)
Watsonia pillansii (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic)

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Zones 4-9, 12-24
Full Sun
Regular Water

Watsonia pillansii

Evergreen, Perennials, Flowers


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. 

Watsonia pillansii

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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