Flowering Watsonia Garden Plants
Watsonia is a member of the Iridaceae or Iris family of flowering garden plants. Its common name is the Bugle Lily. There are 52 species of Watsonia, which is native to South Africa. Watsonia has a corm root structure with erect stems that average 2-3 feet (about 0.6 to 0.9 m) tall. They produce bugle shaped flowers in a variety of colors. Watsonia was introduced to Australia as a decorative garden plant in the early 1900s and is now listed as an invasive species in that country. Growing Watsonia is easy enough. These garden plants will thrive in well-drained soil where there is full sun exposure. Prepare a bed in fall by adding a generous amount of compost and working it in to a depth of 6 inches. Bury corms 4 or 5 inches deep, spaced 12 inches apart. Cover them with the amended soil and tamp down lightly. In zones below USDA 8, start corms in a peat and potting soil mixture in a moderately lit room, where temperatures exceed 60 F. (16 C.). Watsonia bulbs, or corms, will rot in soils that don’t drain well. Ensure adequate drainage in any location where you want these spectacular blooms to grow.
The proper care of Watsonia garden plants will reward you season after season with a little effort. While corms can rot in sodden soils, they do require supplemental water during the growing season. Keep soil moderately moist. Cut the spent blooms off at the end of the season but leave the green leaves to continue to gather solar energy to fuel the next season’s flowers. Fertilize in very early spring with a good bulb fertilizer. Be cautious in warmer zones, as the plant can become invasive in much the same way Crocosmia can spread and invade other garden plants.