Are you considering growing a red hot poker plant? It is essential to know that it requires specific growing conditions to thrive. Like any other plant, it also needs maintenance such as watering and pruning. Though it might not be as less maintenance as other plants, growing red hot poker plants is worth your landscape. In this article, learn what this plant is, what it needs to survive, and get some growing and care tips.

What is Red Hot Poker?

The red hot poker plant, Kniphofia uvaria, belongs to the Liliaceae family. It is usually known as a poker plant and torch lily. Red hot poker plant thrives in USDA zones 5 through 9, which is considered an upright evergreen perennial. This plant has more than 70 known species that can grow up to 5 feet. Gardeners like this plant because it attracts birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects to the garden.

Growing and Care tips for Red Hot Pokers

As mentioned, the red hot poker plants need the best conditions for them to survive. Not only that, but you also need to do the proper maintenance to keep it thriving. As a gardener, you need to know what it needs and prune it for its flowers to bloom beautifully. Take a look at the following growing and care tips:

Foliage

Make sure to cut the foliage off at the red hot poker plant’s base in late fall.  Then get rid of the spent flower spikes to encourage more plants divided in the fall for new plants. Never bury the crown of the plant any deeper than three inches. 

Soil

Red hot poker can tolerate many soil types. However, it still needs the best to thrive. Know that it doesn’t grow well in poorly-drained soil because it usually stays soggy after watering or when it rains. Red hot poker plants thrive well in moist, compost-amended soils, but they should have a neutral or slightly acidic pH.

The Red hot poker plants should be planted 18 to 24 inches apart. Other larger varieties, such as ‘Royal Standard,’ should be planted a little further apart. Meanwhile, dwarf varieties, like the ‘Little Maid,’ can be planted closer together. You can also consider growing the plant during spring or fall. The crown should be burried three inches or less deep. 

Sunlight

Though red hot poker plants bloom best in full sun, don’t forget to remove them from too much heat. They can also tolerate light afternoon shade in hot climates.

Temperature

You may start from seeds when growing red hot pokers, but they need a chilling period, consistent 70F temperatures, and still may take up to three months to germinate.

Water

Red hot pokers are hardy and moderately drought resistant. However, regular water is needed for them to survive and reach their full potential.

Red Hot Pokers Varieties

Red hot poker plants have different varieties and among them is the  Kniphofias, commonly known as Torch Lilies or Red Hot Pokers. They come in bright-colored, dense, erect spikes resembling glowing pokers or torches. They usually bloom from late spring to early fall, depending on the varieties. They can improve your garden’s aesthetics because of their long-lasting display of red, orange, yellow or cream flowers. 

Another variety is the ‘Popsicle’ series of cultivars from Terra Nova Nurseries. It is a dwarf variety that grows to two feet tall (with flower) and 18 inches wide. This plant has red flowers Kniphofia ‘Pineapple Popsicle’: Same as above variety, with yellow flowers including the Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’ and orange flowers Kniphofia ‘Ice Queen’: There is another variation of the red hot poker plant which has lime-yellow to light-yellow flowers. This grows four feet tall (with flowers) and two feet wide.

Red Hot Poker Plant Trimming

Trimming red hot pokers is essential to encourage blooming. You can use garden scissors or pruners to snip off the stem of the plant. When trimming the plant, you can cut at the stem’s base to promote continuous growth through the fall.  You may leave the old foliage on the plant during the cold season to protect the crown over winter. Once done, you can tidy the plants in spring by pulling away dead and damaged leaves at the base.

The red hot poker plant is one of a gardener’s favorites because of its beautiful flowers. When growing this plant, make sure to consider the best conditions so that it will thrive well. Don’t forget to trim the plants when needed so that they will bloom beautifully.