Plant Focus: Red Hot Pokers

Helpful tips and ideas for new additions to your garden:

or Red Hot Pokers are a striking and unusual flower that you shouldn’t be put off from planting at this time of year. They are native to South Africa and range in colour from ivory and orange right through to bright coral red.

Kniphofias have a long and varied season of flowering from May to October, so you should have an attractive floral display for at least a couple of months. In our wet climate, it is important to plant in soil that is free draining because if the plants get too dry they can be reluctant to flower. They will also grow in poor or stony soil, but for this ground preparation is essential.

Effective use of Kniphofias

Kniphofias can lose their vibrant character if they are within over-planted borders therefore when we maintain our customers’ gardens we make sure their area is not too densely planted.

Although the Kniphofias’ foliage can appear untidy at times it can be easily disguised with careful placement in your garden. The most effective way to use Kniphofias is to combine them with ornamental grasses. Large drifts of grasses such as Stipa Tenuissima can help to merge planting and add a delicate quality. It would be a shame not to grow these radiant plants that appear like candles in the garden landscape, giving a dramatic effect with plumes of red and yellow towering up to 60cm tall.

Gravel gardens are also suitable for Kniphofias, especially in the winter months as the gravel helps preserve soil moisture and improve winter drainage. Dependent upon your preference of colour, K. ‘Sunningdale Yellow’ (1m/39in) is a pure yellow hybrid which looks fantastic with glaucous blue Melianthus, especially when in gravel. If you prefer the hotter shades of orange then K. ‘Fiery Fred’ (65cm/26in) is extremely striking.

Other Red Hot Pokers

In the late seasons when the skies are grey and a hint of frost fills the air, you can achieve an autumnal effect with the K. ‘Red Admiral’ or the K. ‘Bressingham Comet’.

If you prefer the effect of bright colours then the carmine pink Sedum spectabile is ideal. It looks really vibrant, with its horizontal flower-heads standing out against the vertical lines of an orange-yellow K. ‘Firefly’ or K. ‘Royal Standard’, both around 1.2m high.


Kniphofias suit all gardens as they blend seamlessly with adjacent perennials from May right through to October. Why not add this hint of South Africa into your garden?

Handy Hint: Scattering pelleted chicken manure around the bases of plants and adding a surface organic mulch is excellent practice to get the most out of your plants.

If you would like any more growing tips for Red Hot Pokers then please contact us.