Tall bright and imposing, Torch Lilies lend height, vibrancy and drama to any garden, the fiery, torch-like flowers make vertical accents in a sunny border and can look stunning in a well grown clump. The tall sturdy stems look wonderful against a background of ornamental grasses and the blooms last well when cut.
The Kniphofia hybrids have extended both the flower colour and height range. The usual fiery reds and oranges work particularly well in a planting scheme based on 'hot' colours - use them to light up sultry August borders. The cooler yellow, cream, ivory and sometimes green flowers is more restful. Flowering usually occurs from autumn to spring, depending on the species and the grassy to sword-shaped foliage is more often than not, evergreen.
The leaves are linear, v-shaped and are usually around 75cm (30in) long with a rough-textured margin. They arise from a crown of fleshy roots. Usually, the top of the inflorescence will be orange or red while the older flowers at the base will have faded to yellow or cream. Plants remain in bloom for about a month. The tall sturdy stems look wonderful against a background of ornamental grasses and the blooms last well when cut.
This is an easy and undemanding plant, originally from South Africa, brought to England in 1707, they were kept as greenhouse treasures until 1848, when someone had the bright idea of planting them outdoors, and their abiding hardiness was discovered. Hardy to minus 23°C (–10°F), in mild winters, the leaves may be semi-evergreen.
Sowing: Sow February to June or sow in September to October to flower the following season
Sow on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Cover seed with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite; do not cover it needs light to germinate. The compost should be kept moist, at all times. Keep at a temperature of between 15 to 20°C (59-68°F). Germination takes between 14 and 45 days.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Do not allow the plants to become dry either before or after planting.
Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out in the early summer. Space 30cm (12in) apart.
Kniphofia require a sunny position to flower well, it cannot grow in the shade. The soil should be not too dry in summer and as dry as you can arrange in winter - good drainage is critical. Kniphofia can cope with salt winds and will thrive near the coast.
Water well during the flowering season. In autumn remove and compost the faded flowers and apply deep dry mulch such as pine needles around the crown of the plant.
In spring cut back to the ground to keep the foliage fresh-looking and divide and re-plant overcrowded colonies as new growth commences. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well.
Kniphofia will last a week or two in water. The lower flowers can be snipped off as they die.
Interestingly - Red hot pokers do not like cigarette smoke.
City/Courtyard Gardens, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Borders and Beds, Containers, Patios, Tubs. Wildlife / Butterfly Garden, Maritime Garden.
About 70 species of Kniphofias are found in Africa with most of the cultivated selections coming from South Africa. Red hot pokers are closely related to aloes except Kniphofias don’t have very succulent leaves. They belong to Asphodelaceae family, a new family split from the overly large lily family.
Pronounced ni-FOH-feea, or k-nip-HOF-ia. The genus name honours German botanist Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-1763).
The species name uvaria derives from an old generic name for the plant, from the Latin uva meaning grape referring to the clustered fruits of some species.
The common names red hot poker or torch lily aptly describe the striking flower heads.
NCCPG National Collection of Kniphofia is at Barton Manor, Isle of Wight
For further information about pokers please consult: Mr. Lester Elliott (Head Gardener)
Barton Manor, Whippingham, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. PO32 6LB.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 35 Seeds Family Asphodelaceae Genus Kniphofia Species uvaria Cultivar New Hybrids Synonym Kniphofia aloides (Used to be called Tritoma) Common Name Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Red, Orange, Yellow, Cream. Ivory, Green. Natural Flower Time Late summer, to spring Foliage Usually evergreen, sword shaped leaves. Height 45 to 60cm (18-24in) Position Requires a sunny position to flower well, it cannot grow in the shade. Soil Good drainage is critical Time to Sow Sow Feb to June or in September to October to flower the following season Germination Between 14 and 45 days.