Kniphofias, commonly known as Red Hot Pokers or Torch Lilies, certainly live up to their name as one hot flower - flying off shelves faster than slices of hot apple pie. It’s no wonder, though - with plumes of bright, fiery hues of red, orange, and yellow, they almost seem as though they’re really torches set aflame in the garden. Plus, it’s not just our eyes that love them, they’re also a big hit with the hummingbirds, which are always welcome in our gardens!
Planting Red Hot Poker Bulbs
These summer bloomers are best planted in spring, just after the ground thaws, straight into the garden where they’ll have plenty of space to spread and grow to their full 2-3 feet potential. If left in soggy soil, their bulbs - which are actually rhizomes - can fall victim to rot, so they’ll need to be planted where there’s plenty of sun and soil with ample drainage. If you’ve found the perfect spot, but the soil just isn’t cutting it, simply amending with some compost or peat moss should do the trick!
Once you’re ready to plant, you’ll want to dig your holes about 4 inches deep and a roomy 2 feet apart. Place your rhizome in the hole flat, with the root side down, then loosely cover with soil - don’t pat it down - then top with compost. To settle everything into place, give it a nice drink of water and your kniphofia will be all set to grow soon enough under the summer sun!
How to Care for Red Hot Poker Flowers
Your kniphofias will need to be watered about once a week, letting the soil dry out in between drinks. Hardy and durable, these flowers are both heat-tolerant and drought-resistant (which makes sense, given their red hot nature), so you won’t need worry about losing them to the intense heat waves. However, a ready supply of water during scorching temperatures will certainly be appreciated to keep these beauties looking their best.
As they burst into burning bloom in the late summer, you can expect flower stalk after flower stalk until the fall, but they will need a little deadheading to get them there. As the flaming spikes start to die down and fade, simply pinch them away at the base of the flower, so they can concentrate on lighting up new torches for you to enjoy. Or, of course, you can always cut them and bring them in to feature them in a tabletop arrangement to light up your home as much as they do your garden! Just remember to leave plenty of foliage behind to keep your plant photosynthesizing at full speed.
Caring for Red Hot Pokers After Flowering
When fall comes and the flowers finally fade, your red hot pokers will be ready to settle in for hibernation. To help them get there, trim off the leaves as they turn yellow and after the stalks have retreated into the soil, cover the ground with a few inches of compost and mulch to provide plenty of insulation and moisture retention to protect the rhizome. When the warm weather returns in spring, start the process all over again with a little water and enjoy the show again for another season.
With so many varieties available, there’s sure to be a red hot poker that will light your fire. Here are our current favorites:
Kniphofia Alcazar offers classic bright beauty in a gradient of orange and yellow flower spikes sitting atop orange stalks that will warm up any landscape.
Kniphofia Echo Mango does simply that - perfectly mimicking the green shell and vibrant golden flesh of the mango fruit for a note of freshness in the garden.
Kniphofia Echo Rojo gives you brilliant scarlet spikes that are sure to be the apple of every hummingbird’s eye as they dart straight into your garden to take a peek.
Easy to care for and completely captivating, Red Hot Pokers are the perfect plant for adding warmth and dimension to your summer garden and soon they’ll be ready to plant! Grab yours on our online store today and prepare for your most brilliant season yet.
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