Kniphofia are better known as red hot pokers.
They’re easily recognised from their distinctive vertical spikes topped with bottlebrush-like flowers in a range of fiery colours. From red and orange through to yellow and lime green, kniphofia flowers emerge from a clump of long, narrow foliage that’s attractive in its own right. They have a long flowering season and look great planted en masse in hot-coloured borders growing alongside plants that enjoy the same sunny growing conditions.
Get the know-how you need to grow red hot pokers, below.
Where to grow kniphofias
Grow kniphofia in moist but well-drained soil in full sun.
Dig a generous hole, adding a handful of grit for added drainage.
Video: Monty Don plants kniphofias
There are many different kniphofia cultivars, but these won’t come true from seed saved from the flowers and some are sterile. Division in spring is the best means of propagation.
Kniphofias: problem solving
Kniphofias are generally quite trouble-free. However slugs and snails might overwinter among the leaves and feast on new spring shoots, so check plants or put protection in place. If conditions are damp, plants can be affected by root rot and should be dug up and discarded.
Caring for kniphofias
Kniphofias don’t like winter wet, so plants may need some protection over winter for the first year or two established. In autumn remove the faded flower spikes and apply a deep, dry mulch around the crown or leave the foliage until spring to provide additional winter protection. Divide and replant congested clumps in spring.
Red hot pokers to grow
- ‘Percy’s Pride’ – with greenish yellow flower spikes, this looks good planted with Euphorbia mellifera that enjoys similar growing conditions
- ‘Nancy’s Red’ – produces bright red flower spikes between June and October. Team with other hot-coloured flowers, such as heleniums, rudbeckias and perennial grasses
- ‘Ice Queen’ – this is one of the palest red hot pokers available. It bears tall, green-tipped, white flower spikes between June and October
- ‘Sunningdale Yellow’ – an early-flowering red hot poker, bearing slender flowers in warm yellow, from June to October
- ‘Limelight’ – a compact red hot poker, producing short spikes of acid lime-green flowers. Its slightly curled leaves add an extra touch of drama