Common name: Torch lily or Red hot poker
Kniphofia are generally grown for their flowers that change colour as they open, for example from yellow to red!
They are quite easy to grow and can be propagated from seeds or by dividing established plants.
If purchasing them as container grown plants buy them when they are in flower to ensure you get the colours you want.
In colder areas it is advisable to either cover them with a thick layer of mulch or lift them and store them in a frost free area until spring.
It is a herbaceous perennial, which is commonly divided into three groups according to their flowering periods.
Flower in June/July, and are 800-1000mm high, planting distance 600mm.
They have narrow reed like leaves which dull as the season progresses.
Flower in July-September, and are 1500mm high, planting distance 600mm.
They have narrow grey/blue waxy leaves.
Flower in September/October, and are 600-700mm high, planting distance 600mm, and have grass like leaves.
Each group need, full sunlight, and will grow in almost any garden soil, provided it is always moist but not water-logged.
Normally plants do not require staking.
Remove faded flower spikes down to ground level to encourage further flowering.
They are generally pest and disease free, however slugs / snails can sometimes be a problem.
The most serious disease is violet root rot which has often thwarted growers and breeders.
A fungicide such as Dithane 945 will offer some control, but avoiding waterlogged soil and large expanses of one cultivar might be the better option as this may prevent the disease occurring in the first place.
Sow seed in a nursery bed outdoors in drills 12mm (1/2") deep if ground conditions allow.
The resulting plants will not be the same as the parent plant and may not flower until next summer.
Alternatively, sow into trays of seed compost and germinate at 18°C (64°F)
When seedlings are large enough to handle either transplant them into 75mm (3") pots or a nursery bed.
Grow potted seedlings on at a temperature of around 12°-14°C (54°-57°F) then transplant them to their flowering positions the following year.
Seedlings grown in a nursery bed will require winter protection.
Divide overcrowded plants and replant divisions immediately.
Mature plants that don’t require dividing can benefit from an annual haircut to tidy the plants and remove any hiding snails.
Apply a top dressing of bonemeal and a peat mulch to conserve moisture.
Transplant the seedlings into a nursery bed or into 100mm (4”) pots of potting compost and grow on in a coldframe until planting out time.
Plant out ensuring that the planting hole is large enough and deep enough to accommodate the root system.
Do not let the plant dry out whilst establishing itself.
Tie up leaves to form a cocoon and protect the crowns from the worst of the winter weather.