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Bulbil Bugle-lily Watsonia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
wat-SON-ee-uh
Description

Named after Sir William Watson, an 18th century British botanist, physician and naturalist the Watsonia is native to southern Africa.  This Iris related and gladiola-like, species is grown as a perennial in warmer climates.  Some varieties can also be grown as an annual in locations experiencing cold temperatures, where the corms can be dug up in the fall, placed in a cool and dry environment and replanted in the spring.  Placing them in a potting soil and peat mixture will help to absorb moisture during the storing period.  That will also allow you to divide the plant by removing the offsets from the corms that have formed.   

When growing as a perennial, corms should be planted in late summer into early winter.  The corms will sprout in the fall, flowers will bloom in the spring.  Remove the flower stalks after blooming has finished but leave the leaves to encourage strengthening the corm for the next growth cycle.

Mature clumps should be divided every few years.  When left to become overcrowded, flowering can be reduced.  

While a Watsonia's bloom can be in a variety of colors, the most common are coral, orange and light pink.  Its clumps grow best in full sun with well composted soil.  Consistent summer watering helps to increase the growth rate and cold hardiness.  Large clumps are more cold resistant.  Each clump can provide several dozen spikes of blooms, each spike with up to 25 flowers. 

This excellent cut flower prefers growing in well-drained soil.  Locations where the soil does not drain properly can lead to the corms rotting.  Bugle Lily has a diameter of 12 inches with a covered depth of 3 inches with a corm being able to be stored dry at 35-41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Its hardiness is found in Tender III - and is injured below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Although not causing damage to the plant, Aphids are known to inhabit this plant. 

Due to its height, it may need to be staked for support. 

It can spread to a point of being considered invasive. 

In some cases, handling the plant can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ablaze'
    Red to Apricot flowers.
  • 'Mount Congreve Coral'
    Coral flowers.
  • 'Raspberry Delight'
    Fuchsia pink flowers.
'Ablaze', 'Mount Congreve Coral', 'Raspberry Delight'
Tags:
#evergreen#bulb#showy flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#corms#cut flowers#wind tolerant#herbaceous#deer resistant#herbaceous perennial#cutting garden#broadleaf#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ablaze'
    Red to Apricot flowers.
  • 'Mount Congreve Coral'
    Coral flowers.
  • 'Raspberry Delight'
    Fuchsia pink flowers.
'Ablaze', 'Mount Congreve Coral', 'Raspberry Delight'
Tags:
#evergreen#bulb#showy flowers#drought tolerant#perennial#corms#cut flowers#wind tolerant#herbaceous#deer resistant#herbaceous perennial#cutting garden#broadleaf#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Watsonia
    Family:
    Iridaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland
    Wildlife Value:
    Attractive to hummingbirds and pollinating insects.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Bulb Storage:
    Bulbs can be dug up and stored in a cool, dry environment.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Bulb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Wood-textured oblong capsules containing several seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Showy spikes with up to 25 flowers come in white, orange, pink, purple, and yellow/red.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaf color may include green. They grow in a fan like arrangement below the blooms.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stem color may include green or yellow/green. The stiffly erect stems can be both simple or branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Meadow
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Vertical Spaces
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Cutting Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Wind