Red hot poker varieties

Poker Plant Care: Growing And Caring For Red Hot Torch Lilies

If you’re looking for something grand in the garden or something to attract wildlife friends, then look no further than the red hot poker plant. Growing and caring for torch lilies is easy enough for newbie gardeners too. So what is a red hot poker torch lily and how do you grow red hot pokers? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Red Hot Poker Torch Lily?

The striking red hot poker plant (Kniphofia uvaria) is in the Liliaceae family and is also known as poker plant and torch lily. This plant thrives in USDA zones 5 through 9 and is an upright evergreen perennial with a clumping habit. Over 70 known species exist of this South African native plant.

Torch lilies grow to be up to 5 feet tall and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and birds to the garden with their bright flowers and sweet nectar. Attractive sword-shaped leaves surround the base of a tall stem upon which red, yellow or orange tubular flowers droop down like a torch.

How Do You Grow Red Hot Pokers?

Red hot poker plants prefer full sun and must be given adequate spacing to accommodate their mature size.

Although poker plants are not fussy about the type of soil in which they are planted, they do require adequate drainage and do not tolerate wet feet.

Plant torch lilies in the early spring or fall for best results.

Most of these plants are available as potted transplants or tuberous roots. They can also be seed grown. Start seeds indoors anytime. Seeds do best if they are chilled before planting.

How to Care for a Red Hot Poker Plant

Although this beautiful plant is hard and moderately drought resistant, regular water is required in order for the plant to reach its full potential. Gardeners should be diligent with watering during hot and dry spells.

Provide a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to help with water retention and for protection during cold winters.

Cut foliage off at the base of the plant in late fall and remove spent flower spike to encourage more blooms.

Poker plants can be divided in the fall for new plants. Do not bury the crown of the plant any deeper than 3 inches. Water new plants thoroughly and cover with a liberal amount of mulch.

Kniphofia species

Red-hot pokers make a brilliant display in a garden and the flowers last for a long time. The showy, bright-coloured flowers are ideal for adding a splash of colour to an area or making a bold statement. These plants can be used at the back of a mixed flower border, in groups in the front of a shrub border, or lining a long driveway. Kniphofia tolerate wind well and are often seen growing close to the coast. They also make excellent cut flowers. The winter-flowering varieties are particularly useful in providing displays of colour during the dry winter months in the summer rainfall regions.

Kniphofia grow well in rich soil located in an open sunny position or partial shade. Most species require plenty of water during the growing season if they are to thrive and flower well. They should also be fertilised monthly during their active growing period. Kniphofia species are generally hardy to semi-hardy. Most species tolerate frost but the winter-flowering species should be protected. Some summer-flowering species die down in winter and grow again in the early summer. In cultivation Kniphofia resent disturbance. They will take a year to settle down after being divided and will not flower well. They should therefore be left undisturbed for many years until their flowers show signs of deterioration through overcrowding. Some commonly cultivated Kniphofia species include K. praecox, K. linearifolia, K. uvaria, K. multiflora, K. caulescens and a variety of attractive cultivars.

These plants can be propagated by seed or by division. Division will produce the quickest results since seed takes a long time to produce flowering plants. Large clumps can be lifted and divided, using a spade and then replanted.

Acknowledgements: Mr Syd Ramdhani is thanked for providing information on the distribution of the genus.

Red Hot Poker

Red Hot Poker

Add this can’t-miss perennial to a cottage garden or mixed border for an eye-catching burst of color that is both whimsical and architectural. Red hot poker blooms intermittently from late spring until fall and adds bold texture and color to the scene. Exceptionally easy to grow with a wide hardiness range, red hot poker is a great addition to any full-sun planting spot.

genus name
  • Kniphofia
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Perennial
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 1 to 2 feet wide
flower color
  • Green,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Colorful Fall Foliage
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
  • Division,
  • Seed

Garden Plans For Red Hot Poker

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Poker Partners

Play with shape and texture when choosing planting companions for red hot poker. With red hot poker’s bold, upright spikes, a host of mounding plants and perennials with curved leaves and flowers make excellent planting companions. Consider these favorites: purple coneflower, all types of perennial salvia, agave, Russian sage, and sedum.

Red Hot Poker Care Must-Knows

Plant container-grown plants in early spring in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the plant’s root zone to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. Water newly planted red hot poker weekly for the first growing season in the garden. Clip spent flower blossoms to promote rebloom. Plants will send up a flush of flower spikes in late spring or early summer and continue blooming through the growing season if spent flowers are removed.

Red hot poker doesn’t tolerate division well, but you can divide the plant if you want to create more plants. Divide using a sharp spade to slice through the plant’s root system. Transplants should have a large mass of roots and many aboveground stems. Replant all divisions in the spring, and be prepared to wait 2 to 3 years before the transplants bloom.

Grow These New Varieties

‘Pineapple Popsicle’ dwarf poker, a hummingbird favorite, is a reblooming cultivar with yellow pineapple-colored spikes that bloom all season long. Its grassy foliage grows about 2 feet tall. ‘Flamenco’ red hot poker has 8-inch spikes of red, orange, and yellow florets on the same stalk and makes a dynamic cut flower. ‘Mango Popsicle’ dwarf poker has yellow-orange blooms and 12- to 18-inch-tall reed-like foliage. ‘Redhot Popsicle’ poker is a dwarf plant with foliage growing just 14–16 inches tall and flower spikes standing 20 inches tall.

More Varieties of Red Hot Poker

‘Shenandoah’ Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia ‘Shenandoah’ produces thick, leafless stems topped with robust pokers that are yellow below and red on top. These appear in early summer. The deciduous triangular leaves are strap-shaped. Zones 6–9

‘Shining Scepter’ Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’ blooms in midsummer with tangerine yellow pokers on 3- to 4-foot stems. Zones 6–9

Plant Red Hot Poker With:

Long-blooming helenium lights up the late-season garden with showy daisy flowers in brilliant yellows, browns, and mahogany, centered with prominent yellow or brown discs. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids. All are excellent for cutting. Deadhead to extend bloom time, and divide the clumps every couple of years to ensure vigor.

Grow artemisias for the magnificent silver foliage that complements nearly all other perennials and ties together diverse colors within the garden. They’re nothing short of stunning next to white or blue flowers. They thrive in hot, dry, sunny conditions such as a south-facing slope. A number spread rapidly to the point of being aggressive, so consider limiting yourself to varieties that are well-behaved.

There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade, in well-drained average soil.

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