Kniphofia/Red Hot Poker Lily Planting Guide
Looking for something with an exotic air? The name is a tongue twister (pronounced nee-FOF-ee-a) but these plants are easy to grow - many even say tough to kill - and deliver colorful, spiky, wand-like flowers that hummingbirds love. Once established, these Red Hot Poker plants can also manage drought, although they tend to bloom more profusely with supplemental water.
- Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2"-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Kniphofia will not survive in soils that are water logged.
- Site your kniphofia where they'll get full day sun.
- Plant the field grown rhizomes 3-4" deep and 18-24" apart. The rhizomes you receive will have roots attached so it will be easy to determine which end is "up". After planting, water well to settle the soil around the roots.
- Fresh roots will begin to grow and top growth will become evident within a few weeks. Provide supplemental water, as needed in the spring and summer; about 1" per week is a good, general estimate. The soil can be allowed to dry out in the fall and winter.
- Flowers develop during the summer and last for weeks. Feel free to cut blooms for arrangements as this will not hurt your plants. In fact, clipping off flower stalks often encourages the production of more blossoms.
- After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the plant for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate. No extra water is typically needed in the fall and winter.
- As cooler weather arrives in the fall, kniphofia leaves may yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage may be cut back at this point. Your kniphofia plant will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in spring. In warm regions, red hot poker lily foliage may stay green year round.
- Kniphofia are generally not recommended for containers because mature plants grow into large clumps that often measure 2-3 feet across.