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Kniphofia caulescens (Red Hot Poker)

Caulescent Red Hot Poker, Caulescent Torch Lily, Tritoma caulescens

Kniphofia caulescens, Red Hot Poker, Tritoma caulescens

Kniphofia caulescens is a stunning perennial that adds a bold, architectural element to the garden. Its vibrant flowers and easy-care nature make it a favorite among gardeners seeking to add a touch of drama to their outdoor spaces.

Kniphofia caulescens: An In-depth Look

Kniphofia caulescens, also known as Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily, is an attractive perennial known for its striking flowers. It is distinguished by its tall, upright flower spikes and grass-like foliage. The flowers are tubular and arranged densely on the spikes, creating a vivid display.

Native: Native to South Africa, it is found in mountainous regions, adapting well to a variety of conditions.

Plant Type and Habit: This is an upright, clump-forming, rhizomatous, evergreen to semi-evergreen perennial. It forms clumps of slender, arching leaves with tall flower spikes rising above the foliage.

Size: Typically, it reaches about 2-4 feet in height (60-120 cm), with the flower spikes extending even higher. The spread can be around 1-2 feet (30-60 cm). Plants will self seed in the landscape to form colonies.

Flowers: The flowers are the main attraction, ranging from yellow to orange and red. They are densely packed on the spikes, blooming from the bottom upwards. Flowering occurs in mid to late summer, providing late-season color in the garden.

Foliage: The foliage consists of long, narrow, grass-like, bluish-green leaves. They create a lush base for the flower spikes. Foliage remains evergreen in frost-free climates.

Uses: Ideal for borders, cottage gardens, and as a focal point in landscaping. It is also used in cut flower arrangements due to its long-lasting blooms.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 6-9, tolerating a range of climates

Toxicity: There is no significant toxicity reported for humans or animals.

Wildlife: The flowers attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.

Deer and Rabbit: It’s relatively resistant to deer and rabbits.

Drought: Moderately drought-tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering during dry spells.

Invasiveness: Not considered invasive; it’s well-behaved in the garden setting.

Benefits: Provides vibrant color and vertical interest in the garden. It’s also low maintenance and attracts beneficial wildlife.

Red Hot Poker Growing Tips

Light: Thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. It can tolerate light shade but may produce fewer flowers. Needs protection from strong winds.

Soil: Prefers well-draining soil; tolerant of a range of soil types. Soil pH can be neutral to slightly acidic.

Water: Requires regular watering, especially during dry spells. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings to prevent root rot.

Fertilizer: Feed them with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to encourage strong growth and flowering.

Pruning: Deadhead spent flower spikes to encourage more blooms. Cut back foliage in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Propagation: Propagate by dividing clumps in spring or fall.

Mulching: Mulch around the plants to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. However, be careful not to mulch too heavily around the plant’s crown, as this can lead to rot.

Pests and Diseases: Generally resistant to pests and diseases. Watch for aphids, thrips, slugs, and snails. Root rot can be an issue in poorly drained soils.

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Heat Zones 4 - 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Asphodelaceae
Genus Kniphofia
Common names Torch Lily, Red Hot Poker
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Semi-Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden, Coastal Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Kniphofia ‘Lucky Lemons’ (Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia ‘Creamsicle’ (Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia ‘Fire Glow’ (Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia uvaria (Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia ‘Rocket’s Red Glare’ (Red Hot Poker)
Kniphofia ‘Solar Flare’ (Red Hot Poker)

Recommended Companion Plants

Achillea (Yarrow)
Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan)
Echinacea (Coneflower)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Hummingbird
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Best Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Heat Zones 4 - 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Asphodelaceae
Genus Kniphofia
Common names Torch Lily, Red Hot Poker
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Semi-Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden, Coastal Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Not sure which Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) to pick?
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