Watsonia angusta

I’ve had this watsonia for years, it’s old garden stock from Victoria and looked like just a nondescript seedling from open pollination. But it turns out to be a true species, Watsonia angusta Ker.

Like other watsonias from the winter rainfall zone of South Africa, W. angusta has annual stems and leaves that die after flowering and are replaced by shoots from the newly-formed basal corms. But as it grows in more-or-less permanently wet sites (Goldblatt, 1989) the time interval between shoot generations is shortened. The corms have no obligate dormant period and start producing adventitious roots whenever water is available. Flowering is later than W. meriana, in late spring to summer.

Watsonia angusta

Watsonia angusta

W. angusta has orange to red flowers. I’d describe this specimen as “tomato-red”, a hue hard to capture exactly even after tweaking the colour balance in a digital pic. Per the Royal Horticultural Society colour charts, the flower is RHS 40B overall, with the lower tube RHS 40A and the perianth lobes shading to RHS 32B. As the name suggests, a lot of things about it are narrow: the perianth tube, the thin pointed seed capsules, and the perianth lobes – although at 8-9 mm these are broader than in some wild populations.

Under garden conditions in southern Australia it could be kept green all year, but would look untidy with new shoots appearing between the previous year’s spent growth. I manage it by giving it a short dry rest in January, when it can be cut to ground level or dug up and divided before resuming watering just about now.

Reference

Goldblatt, P. (1989) The genus Watsonia. (National Botanic Gardens: Kirstenbosch) ISBN 062012517