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If gladiolus could loosen up, they'd be watsonias.

If gladiolus could loosen up, they'd be watsonias If you like gladiolus but wish they didn't look so stiff, you might try growing watsonias. These South African natives produce upright spikes of blooms that are looser and more open than those on glads. Flowers are somewhat smaller and appear on strong stalks that can reach 6 feet. They come in a wide range of colors--including pink, white, lavender, red, and salmon--and are tops as cut flowers.

In mild-winter areas, you should be able to find watsonia corms at your nursery now. Where winters are cold, look for them in spring. Some popular varieties are orchid pink 'Malvern', 'Mrs. Bullard's White', and pinkish red 'Rubra'.

In all but the coldest-winter areas, plant now for spring and summer bloom. Where winters are snowy, plant in spring for summer bloom.

Plant watsonias about 4 inches deep, 4 to 6 inches apart in full sun. Once they are growing well, water only moderately; too much moisture can cause corms to rot. If plants are in pots, you may have to stake flowers; otherwise, you can usually leave them unsupported.

After bloom fades, foliage starts to decline. When leaves are brown and dry, cut them back. In mild-winter areas, corms can stay in the ground; they multiply, producing a bigger clump each year. Or, divide crowded clumps now, as shown in the photographs above, and replant corms immediately.

In cold-winter areas, lift and divide corms now. Store them in dry vermiculite in a cool, dry spot.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1986
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