Kniphofia, Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia, commonly known as Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily, is a striking perennial plant that forms a textural, large clump of grass-like leaves and is cherished for its vibrant, torch-like flowers that add a burst of color to summer gardens. Native to Africa, Kniphofia has gained popularity worldwide for its bold foliage and stunning flower spikes, making it a favorite among gardeners seeking to add drama and flair to their landscapes. Red Hot Pokes also possesses some other fantastic qualities:

  • Hardy in Zones 5 through 9
  • Drought tolerant
  • Rabbit resistant
  • Deer resistant
  • Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees
  • Grows well in containers
  • Evergreen
  • Excellent cut flower

Planting and Growing

Kniphofia thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, making it an excellent choice for sunny borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, cutting gardens, and naturalistic plantings. It also works well as a stand-alone accent plant. Heat and drought-tolerant, Red Hot Poker is perfectly suited for xeriscaping.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to planting and growing Kniphofia:

  • Location
    Choose a spot in your garden that receives full sunlight for at least six hours daily. Kniphofia prefers well-drained soil, so avoid planting in areas prone to waterlogging.
  • Soil
    Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve drainage and fertility.
  • Plant
    Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of your Kniphofia plant. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the crown is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole and gently firm the soil around the plant.
  • Water
    Water newly planted Kniphofia thoroughly to help establish roots. Once established, water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Mulch
    Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. In colder climates, provide winter protection by mulching around the base of the plant to insulate the roots from freezing temperatures.
  • Fertilize
    Apply a balanced fertilizer in spring to promote healthy growth and flowering.
  • Maintain
    Remove spent flower spikes to encourage new blooms and keep the plant tidy. Divide overcrowded clumps in the spring every few years to rejuvenate the plant.

Kniphofia Varieties

Kniphofia uvaria is the straight species and the classic Red Hot Poker. It features tall spikes of tubular flowers in shades of red, orange, and yellow. The flower spikes of the species and its cultivars are often multi or bi-colored, with the hot-hued florets blooming in layers along the spike, creating an ombre effect as the flowers mature. Red Hot Poker blooms from late spring to late summer. It grows up to 4 feet tall and attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Some of our favorite cultivars include:

Kniphofia ‘Nobilis’
Height: 4-5 feet
Flower Color: Bright red to orange-yellow
Rebloomer: No

Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’
Height: 3-4 feet
Flower Color: Pale yellow
Rebloomer: No

Kniphofia ‘Tawny King’
Height: 3-4 feet
Flower Color: Creamy white to pale orange
Rebloomer: Yes

Kniphofia ‘Papaya Popsicle’
Height: 1.5-2 feet
Flower Color: Bright orange-red
Rebloomer: Yes

Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’
Height: 1.5-2 feet
Flower Color: Mango orange
Rebloomer: Yes

Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’
Height: 2-3 feet
Flower Color: Scarlet red
Rebloomer: Yes

Kniphofia ‘Alcazar’
Height: 4-5 feet
Flower Color: Orange-red with yellow tips
Rebloomer: No

These varieties offer a range of heights and vibrant colors, with some providing the added benefit of reblooming, which can extend their flowering season!

Kniphofia, or Red Hot Poker, is a captivating addition to the perennial garden. These resilient plants offer striking blooms and architectural foliage throughout the summer months. Year after year, they reward gardeners with a spectacular display of color. Experiment with different varieties to create dynamic color schemes and enjoy the beauty and vibrancy that Kniphofia brings to your outdoor oasis.