This magnificent bulbous plant with tall spikes of rose-pink, trumpet-shaped flowers makes a picturesque display, flowering for up to 4 or 5 weeks - a beautiful garden subject that needs little maintenance.
Watsonia borbonica is a tender to half-hardy herbaceous perennial that grows up to 2 m high. It is deciduous, growing during autumn-winter-spring and dying back after flowering in spring to early summer and remaining dormant during summer. The rootstock is a corm, 30-40 mm in diameter with grey-brown tunics. It bears upright fans of 5-6, up to 8 glossy, broad, sword-shaped leaves, 20-40 mm wide, that are one to two thirds as long as the flower spike. The margins of the leaves are without colour (hyaline) and moderately thickened.
The flowering stem usually bears two or more small bracts in the upper part, is usually branched and reaches up to 2 m in height. The flower is a spike, the main axis bearing up to 20 flowers and the branching (lateral) spikes up to 10 flowers. The flowers are large and showy, pale to deep pink to light purple, and faintly fragrant. The tepals have a darker midline, and a white streak at the base and very occasionally a plant is found where the whole tepal is white.
The flowers are zygomorphic, i.e. they can be divided into equal halves in one plane only. Flowering time is during late spring to early summer-from October to early December and sometimes into January. The fruit is an oblong capsule, more or less woody, sometimes widening at the apex, splitting to release winged seeds, 8-12 x 2.5 mm.