June 21, 2018

Flower of the Week Boris’ “Red Hot Poker” Kniphofia


Gardening  Week  25th  June – 1st July

Some plants are classed as ‘cottage garden plants’, have you ever thought why? The reason probably is, because people that lived in cottages did not have the same pressure to keep up with the Jones’s as  those that lived in stately homes or town houses. They did not bother to impress their neighbours with regimented borders; instead they planted up their garden with any plant they could find, disregarding its final height shape or colour.  They were usually a happy bunch of souls, with a lot of time on their hands and ended up with an excellent display of vibrant colours, but very informal.  Hence, any plant which looks good in its own right but might not fit into a tight planting scheme became classed as a cottage plant. This week I choose as plant of the week the cottage garden plant known as the red hot poker.  

Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table 25th June – 1st July.

Botanical Name:  Kniphofia;    Common Name:   Red Hot Poker. (Torch Lily.)

Boris' Red Hot Poker kniphofia

The plant has a great deal of untidy sword shaped leaves arising approximately 40 cm from a central point which are not very attractive but they have the added interest of often keeping their place in the winter. From around the centre of the leaves, during early summer rises many strong stems each topped  with a rocket shaped floret of flowers at its tip. The name aptly describes the flowers. The florets begin as red and then they progressively change upwards, from red to yellow, leaving you with a flaming torch of red on the lower end and bright red on the top!  As the plant establishes it gets further rosettes of leaves with more flower stems annually.

The usual height of the flower is around 80 – 100cm Thompson & Morgan sell a variety called Kniphofia hirsuta which is a dwarf compared to the others and only grows to 40cm. If you have not got room for the real thing I would give it a try but it is not as hardy as the tall varieties.

Bumble bees find the flowers very attractive and as I was taking the picture posted here, I was surrounded by a hum of flying insects – with a keen eye one can see a few bees clinging to the florets in the picture

Buying and Growing guide:

How to Grow Red Hot Poker Plant or Torch Lily

Seeds are sold for many varieties of this plant but they are not the easiest plans to germinate, so if you want to make sure you have the plant you have to either buy a potted plant or take a clump from a friend. They are not so readily available but better nurseries will have a few varieties. There are many varieties that are only one colour, usually orange but also yellow and green, so if you want the real poker effect look carefully at the picture on the label. Bi coloured varieties include Atlanta, Royal standard.

To decorate your home cut a few flowers and place them in a tall vase, they look better on the coffee table rather than the dinner table as they have a tall and grand look about them. The best time to cut them is when the bottom flowers are open and the higher ones are still closed. Cutting off the flowers instead of letting them go to seed often induces another flush of flowers.   You will definitely enjoy this architectural flower in your home, and the red hot poker will definitely rouse a fiery conversation!


For Boris’ Money Saving Tip see Gardening Tip for the Week 25th June – 1st July

Enjoy your gardening week watch out for even more gardening tips next week!

Boris Legarni.

Next week :  Which seeds are still worth planting.

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

Related posts


Leave a Reply