Kniphofia uravia is the scientific name for the red hot poker plant. The best soil to plant it is the sandy, loamy soil or raised bed with good drainage and added compost. Using this soil will bring back the same plant every spring.
Red hot poker plants are about 5 feet tall plants of attractive appearance. They are also called tritoma and torch lily. These evergreen perennial plants of the Liliaceous family are of South African origin. They attract various agents like birds, insects, butterflies and hummingbirds. These are inedible and have habits to damp slopes and marshy lands.
Red hot poker bulbs appear to be a plant of desert regions, but this is not so true! They require more amount of water than their appearance claims. The most important requirement to grow them is well drainage soil.
An introduction to the red hot poker plant
These kind of plant is very suitable for beginner gardeners. Their vibrant flowers attract many birds and butterflies. The nectar of these plants is very sweet. These plants are also called torch lilies because of their shape. Their flowers droop down upon tall stems, and the shape of these flowers is like a torch. These flowers appear in various colours and leaves are sword-shaped.
Favourable conditions for red hot poker plants
● These plants crave sunlight to a large extent. They must be kept in such a place where they get the full sun.
● These plants require a large amount of space to grow themselves. They must be placed with gaps to reach their mature size.
● They grow well in any kind of soil with proper drainage. These plants may rot if their bottom portion is kept wet.
●The best time for planting is the early spring.
●If you prepare the seedlings yourself, chill the seeds before using them.
●Red hot poker plant grow well in soils slightly acidic or are of neutral pH.
●Two consecutive red hot poker plants must be placed 18-24 inches apart. The larger the size of the variety, the more is the space they require.
●The seeds require about 70F temperature and a chilling period to germinate. The germination of seeds may take up to three months.
Red hot poker plant care
Dry conditions do not affect this plant. Still, watering them regularly is essential to keep them growing. About 5-7 cm of mulch layer must be applied to support retention of water.
Divide the plants during the fall. The crown must not be more than 7.6 cm buried inside the soil. You must remove the foliage when required.
The stalks of red hot poker plants are wind resistant. These are strong enough and can stay upright themselves. So, they do not require any extra support.
Composting regularly keeps the plant healthy. Add organic fertilizer up to about a 3-inch-thick layer. The organic fertilizer must be granular and balanced.
Applying organic mulch up to 2-3-inch-thick layer thick nourishes them and does not let weeds grow.
How to grow red hot poker plant from seeds
Sow the seeds in pots. Water them regularly and provide the required warmth. The pots will grow mini torch lilies. Since these plants have very long taproots, continuing to grow plant in pots is not ideal.
Transfer them to the garden. Plant them in such a place where they receive the maximum amount of sunlight. The soil in which they would be planted must be porous and watered regularly. Put the plants in the soil up to a depth equal to their depth in the container.
If you are doing indoor plantation, expose the containers to the external heat and light by keeping them in a place where it receives the maximum amount of sunlight. Then move them to the garden later on when once they are adopted to the external conditions. Then they mature into a grown-up plant.
End season care of red hot poker plant
Various offsets develop around these plants every spring. These tiny plants can be replaced in other locations to prevent the mother plant from spreading extremely wide. In this way, the new plant can be propagated from the mother plant.
To do so, cut the offsets using a spade. Dig the ground in a different location but with similar conditions. The digging must be done adequately to put the complete root system of the tiny plant inside the soil. The water the small plants regularly with proper care to let them grow mature.
No such pests or diseases affect the plant, but the crowns rot due to extreme cold and low drainage of the soil. These problems can be solved by raising the beds before planting.
red hot poker plant varieties
Kniphofia uravia ‘Echo Mango’. They grow 36 inches high and 24 inches wide on average. These are resistant to dry conditions. They have a long blooming season. This variety attracts hummingbirds.
Echo Rojo red hot poker plants. Their blooming period is between mid-summer and autumn. Their average height is 40 inches, and their average width is 24 inches.
Fire dance red hot poker plants. Their average height and width are about 20 inches. This variety is deer resistant. These red hot poker plants attract hummingbirds with their red and yellow flowers.
Papaya red hot poker plants. Kniphofia Papaya popsicle grows flower spikes during the summer. These flower spikes are of yellow and red colours. These plants require full sun. The average height and width are 18 inches and 20 inches, respectively.
Kniphofia ‘Ice queen’. Their colour varies between lime yellow and light yellow. The average height of this variety is 4 feet, and the average width is 2 feet.
Deadheading red hot poker plant
These can easily develop foliage around themselves. These get dry and yellowish during winters but should not be removed as the foliage would provide protection to the stem from excessive cold.
The foliage must be tied to the centre. During the spring season, cut the foliages with the help of a pruner or a garden scissor. The plant would then bloom newly.
Red hot poker plant- landscape uses
These plants are very suitably used as edging and specimen plants. They are striking enough and have long blossom time. They can also be used as rock gardening as they are resistant to dry conditions. These can grow aggressively in favourable environments as it is rhizomatous.
Companions for red hot poker plant
As these are perennials, the other perennials grow well in well drainage soil, can be used as companions for red hot poker plants. Salvia, Artemisia, Echinacea and rudbeckia can be planted with red hot poker plants in mid-summer.
Russian sage and Joe-Pye weed are perfect for the later parts of the summer season when flowers bloom in red hot poker plants. As red hot poker plants are yellow, orange, or red, the blue and purple flowers contrast nicely with them.
Serums, asters, dahlias and cannas are used as companions as they suit well for the colour of flowers complimenting Kniphofia uravia.
Growth patterns of red hot poker plants
The minimum height of plants is 1-2 foot, and the maximum height is 5 foot. An example of the 5-foot-tall plant is ‘Royal Standard’, and the example of the 1-foot-tall plant is ‘Little Maid’.
Commonly red hot poker plants have flowers that turn yellow from red or orange when they age. There are many other colours as well. The colour of ‘Springtime’ is coral and yellow, and that of ‘Goldmine’ is amber. The colour of ‘Tawny King’ is cream and apricot. Yellow and green flowers are found in green lemon.
Tube shaped small flowers of these plant attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Flowering in most of the varieties starts from mid-summer. If the climate is warm, the leaves are evergreen. The leaves, on the other hand, turn deciduous if the region is cold.
Red hot poker bloom time stays for 18 days. An evergreen tree is present before a red hot poker plant; the latter finds it easy to display their colour highlighted. Planting a clump of these plants give a splendid visual effect.
Frequently asked questions
Can red hot poker plants be grown in containers?
->Yes, you can grow them in containers. The dwarf varieties are best for container gardening. These varieties include ‘Little Maid’. Water the containers regularly, and fertilizing must be done every two weeks.
Are red hot poker plants invasive?
-> As these plants are rhizomatous, they grow aggressively in favourable environments and some places; they are invasive.
How to keep red hot poker plants blooming?
-> To do so,
i) Water the plants regularly during hot spells when the plant’s roots tend to dry up.
ii) For cold winter seasons, a 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch protects the plant by supporting water retention.
iii) Remove foliage at the time of late fall. Support in enhancing the bloom.
Should the plants be cut back?
-> If the question of cleanliness and order of the garden arises, then the red hot poker plants need to be cut back. In the case of certain evergreen Kniphofia, tie them during the spring or summer instead of cutting. Remember to separate the dead foliage. Mulching and fertilizing support the growth and flowering of the plants after they are cut back.
Are red hot poker plants toxic?
-> Lilies red hot poker plants are generally non-toxic. Cows, goats, cats and humans are not affected by any poisonous substances present in these plants. Various true lilies planted in companions with the torch lilies are likely to harm humans and animals, being toxic.
True lilies’ blooms must not be placed in common arrangement with the flowers of red-hot poker plants. Cows and cats find the daylilies highly toxic. The non-toxic companions of red hot poker plants are canna lilies and marigold blooms. Pets are safe with these lilies.
The toxic companion plants of red hot poker plants contain calcium oxalate, which is the root cause of kidney stone. The symptoms that can be observed due to toxins are-
While handling red hot poker plants, always try to use gloves and sterile tools.