Watsonia, was Watsonia in Oregon.

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sun, 21 Aug 2005 22:02:56 PDT
Dear All,

Don Mahoney talked about Watsonias in his Cal Hort talk and about how many 
of them they had planted in Strybing (San Francisco Botanical Garden) in 
San Francisco made new corms rapidly and not flowers. He thought the habit 
of making corms, not flowers, made them easy to propagate and those were 
the ones offered for sale. Eventually they removed the multipliers in the 
garden and now only grow the ones that flower reliably. I was reminded that 
Watsonia like Cyrtanthus has a reputation in South Africa for being a fire 
lily. We were told that many years some species rarely bloomed and then 
when a fire came along the whole hillside would be covered in bloom. I 
don't think most of us want to burn our gardens to get them to bloom.

In my Northern California garden, Watsonia aletroides, W. humilis,  and W. 
marginata generally bloom every year. They are all planted in the ground 
although I have grown W. humilis successfully in pots. W. coccinea and W. 
laccata usually bloom. The former doesn't offset much at all. For years I 
grew W. pillansii (W. beatricis.) It expanded greatly in my garden, but 
only bloomed 2 times in about ten years so eventually I dug it out. It is a 
summer rainfall species, evergreen in most gardens and it could have been 
it didn't get enough water in summer.

Before this thread I just added some pictures of the Watsonias I grow and 
ones from the Eastern Cape from Cameron McMaster to the wiki having noticed 
that we didn't have many pictured there. I also added a picture of the 
flower of that horrible Watsonia meriana that is taking over huge stretches 
of areas of Northern California and replacing the native plants. It is the 
one that produces bulbils in the flowering stalk. I found one in my garden 
this spring in a spot I was sure I had cleaned out years ago. So before it 
went to bulb heaven I photographed it. Bob suggested I not add it to the 
wiki because it might encourage people to grow it.

Speaking of weedy bulbs, this has been an exceptionally good year for 
Crocosmia in the wild. The last few years when the rains stopped early you 
didn't see so many, but having rains late into June was just enough to 
stimulate the ones that were waiting for the right year to bloom so you see 
them in drainage ditches all over the place.

Mary Sue

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