Watsonia, Plant of the Month January 2021

If you get depressed at how sluggish your garden looks in winter, then here’s a plant for you (and me):  Watsonia.  These beautiful, stately plants emerge from their bulbs (corms, technically) in late autumn and *really* grow throughout our mild winters.  Right now ours have produced many bright green, wide, sword-like leaves that are already three feet tall (think gladiolus foliage).  The beautiful flowers appear later, in late spring and summer, with many colorful, tubular flowers per flower stalk.  Colors can be red, pink, orange, apricot, white or in-between.  In Chico these plants are almost maintenance free—I’ve seen many neglected clumps in abandoned gardens, farms, and roadside  thriving with zero care from gardeners.  Of course they’ll look perform better if faded bloom stalks are trimmed off before setting seeds, and they’ll look better if dead foliage is trimmed off in late summer (don’t yank, it doesn’t come off easily!). The plants thrive in full sun, go dormant in the summer heat, and don’t need supplemental water then. We slop water on them once a week when they have leaves or flowers, and don’t water them at all when they’re dormant.   What could be easier?  If you want some plants that will delight you in winter, and the hummingbirds in spring/summer, I hope you’ll give watsonias a try.  

Happy gardening!
Grant (gem6363@icloud.com)