Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) in flower

How to grow red hot pokers

Find out all you need to know about growing kniphofias, or red hot pokers, in this detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Divide
Divide

Do not Divide in January

Do not Divide in February

Do not Divide in March

Do Divide in April

Do Divide in May

Do not Divide in June

Do not Divide in July

Do not Divide in August

Do not Divide in September

Do not Divide in October

Do not Divide in November

Do not Divide in December

Kniphofia are better known as red hot pokers.

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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.

They’re a popular choice for dry borders and coastal gardens. Combine them with other hot-coloured flowers such as rudbeckias and heleniums or shrubby Euphorbia mellifera.

Get the know-how you need to grow red hot pokers, below.


Where to grow kniphofias

Red-hot poker growing with achillea 'Walther Funcke', phlox and verbena 'Bampton'
Red-hot poker growing with achillea ‘Walther Funcke’, phlox and verbena ‘Bampton’

Grow kniphofia in moist but well-drained soil in full sun.


Planting kniphofias

Toby Buckland planting red-hot poker 'Nancy'
Toby Buckland planting red-hot poker ‘Nancy’

Dig a generous hole, adding a handful of grit for added drainage.

Video: Monty Don plants kniphofias


Propagating kniphofias

Dividing a clump of red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) in spring)
Dividing a clump of red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) in spring)

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

Faded red-hot poker (Kniphofia) flowering stems
Faded red-hot poker (Kniphofia) flowering stems

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

Kniphofia 'Sunningdale Yellow'
Kniphofia ‘Sunningdale Yellow’
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  • ‘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