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Botanical name: Kniphofia spp.
Common names: Red-Hot Poker, Torch Lily, Poker Plant
USDA zones: 5 to 10, depending on species (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 1½ to 6 feet tall, clumping
Benefits and tolerances: Drought and heat tolerant; flowers attract hummingbirds; deer resistant
Seasonal interest: Summer flowering
When to plant: Spring or fall
Distinguishing traits. Grasslike clumps of long, narrow foliage produce stems topped with colorful clustered flowers in summer. The colors and density of the flowers give them an almost glowing appearance and very accurately portray the common names. With shades ranging from orange to yellow, coral to red, and even green to near white, color options are expansive. Heights range from 1½ to 6 feet tall, depending on variety. Most species of Kniphofia are evergreen, but some slightly deciduous varieties will resprout in early summer after laying dormant over winter.
Shown here: Kniphofia 'Ember Glow', zones 6 to 9
How to use it. While Kniphofia lends itself naturally to subtropical and Mediterranean gardens, it makes a great addition to any spot in need of color and clean texture. Lining an entry path in the garden shown here, a large clump of poker flowers projects up and creates a nice textural and colorful contrast to surrounding plants. Mixed in a planter with high-textured plants and grasses, Kniphofia picks up warm-hued accents and creates a dynamic planting profile.
Planting notes. For optimum growth, plant Kniphofia in an open, sunny spot in the garden in rich and well-drained soil. While the plant is drought tolerant for the most part, it prefers regular water and fertilizer during the growth and flowering months.
Some species will tolerate frost but may die to the ground in winter. Not to worry; the plant will resprout in early summer. After the plant has finished flowering, leave spent flowers and leaves on the plant until late winter or early spring. You can then deadhead to prepare for new growth. And while this plant can be propagated through division or seed, wait until it has matured for a few years before you disturb it.
See more great design flowers and plants, grasses and trees.