Kniphofia Plants

Long-lasting displays of bold, eye-catching color

The genus Kniphofia contains perennial herbs, commonly called tritomas, torch lilies, red hot pokers, flame flowers, and poker plants, that bloom from late spring to early fall, depending on variety. Borne on tall, stout scapes, brilliant bottlebrush-like flower spikes are dense with drooping, tubular flowers in bold, vivid shades of yellow, apricot, orange, red, greenish-white, ivory, or creamy pastels. The flower spikes bloom from the bottom up and change color as they senesce, often giving them a bicolored to multicolored look. The flowers are long-lasting and attract butterflies, birds, and hummingbirds.

Kniphofia is a genus of about 70 species of evergreen to deciduous perennials closely related to aloe. Most garden plants are hybrids and range in size from dwarf, about 1 ½ feet tall, to very tall, up to 6 feet. Most have a clumping habit, forming a basal rosette of long, narrow, grassy leaves, and spread by rhizomes. An architectural plant, kniphofia makes an outstanding specimen or vertical accent. But it is shown to best effect massed or grouped in borders or naturalistic settings, such as along streams and around ponds. However, it should be located in an area protected from strong winds.

Tough and easy to grow, kniphofia prefers full sun and humusy, evenly moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates some light shade in hot summer climates and grows well in dry to medium moist sandy soils but is intolerant of heavy, wet soils. It has no serious disease or pest problems, and deer and rabbits tend to leave the plant alone.