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Kniphofia (nee-FOE-fee-uh)

Common Name:  Red hot poker, torch lily

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to loamy, well-drained

Moisture:  Average to dry, especially dry in winter

Blooms:  Late summer

Zones:  (5) 6 - 9 (10)


Kniphofia 'Alcazar'

Kniphofia 'Early Hybrids'

Kniphofia Description and Cultural Information

Kniphofia uvaria, red hot poker. 3 - 5'. Red hot pokers have basal tufts of stiff, narrow, gray-green, evergreen leaves from which the red and orange flower stalks arise in early, mid, or late summer. 'Early Hybrids' are red and orange early bloomers.

There are also many Kniphofia hybrids. 'Alcazar' (36 - 40"), 'Pfitzeri' (18 - 24"), 'Kingston Flame' (4'), and 'Catherine's Orange' (3') each have solid orange blooms. 'Primrose Beauty', 'Sunningdale Yellow', and 'Sally's Comet' are solid yellow. 'Springtime' (30") has red over white. 'Little Maid' is a dwarf with 18" yellow and white flowers in Autumn. 'Nancy's Red' (24") has coral red flowers in late summer. Many varieties bloom for only 2 or 3 weeks so combining different cultivars can extend the bloom season from summer to fall.

How to Grow:  Red hot pokers need to be grown in average to rich, very well-drained soil. They appreciate moisture during the growing season around bloom time but need perfect drainage and dry conditions in the winter. Cut down the spent flower stalks but don't cut back the evergreen foliage in the fall in order to protect them over the winter. Division is best done in spring, if needed . Plants often self-sow but are not generally invasive. Some of the best blooms will be achieved in temperate climates as clumps are often set back over very cold and wet winters in colder zones causing a reduction in bloom capacity.

Landscape uses:  Kniphofia adds a bold vertical accent to the summer garden and is a must for the hummingbird garden. Plant it in well-drained gardens with other drought tolerant perennials such as daylilies, Echinacea, and Achillea. It combines nicely with garden phlox, Gaillardia, Russian sage, and ornamental grasses.

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