This spectacular garden plant blooms for months on end. The exotic yellow, orange and red flowers emerge from the grassy leaves like tiny rockets. Kniphofia is also known as Red Hot Poker and Torch Lily.


Johann H. Kniphof

The genus Kniphofia was named after Johann Kniphof in 1794. The gentleman himself never knew that the plant would bear his name, as he died 31 years before Conrad Moench, a German botanist, immortalised him in honour of Kniphof’s extensive herbarium by naming this striking plant after him.



There are around 70 species of Kniphofia, endemic to Africa, with most varieties found in South Africa. They often grow alongside rivers and waterfalls in mountainous areas at altitudes of up to 3,000 metres/10,000 feet.


Rich history

This spectacular plant has been popular in Europe for centuries. For example, at least three species of Kniphofia were grown at Lee’s Nursery in Hammersmith as early as 1789.

A century later, German grower Max Leichtlin also became infatuated with Kniphofia. He imported seeds and plants from South Africa, and started crossing different varieties. Some of his hybrids, such as the ‘Star of Baden Baden’, are still available to this day.


Kniphofia in the garden

Modern cultivars, such as Papaya Popsicle, remain much more compact than their natural ancestors. This exotic perennial can also be enjoyed in smaller gardens.

It’s best to plant Kniphofia in the spring in a sunny spot.


Contrasting colours

The exotic orange-red flowers of Kniphofia contrast strongly with blue and purple. You can create a breathtaking effect if you plant Kniphofia in a border with plants such as Eryngium (sea holly), Salvia Caradonna, Perovskia Blue Spire, and Veronica spicata.


Prairie-style border

Embrace the warm hues, and combine Kniphofia with plants that share the same colour palette, such as Echinacea, Gaillardia, Carex Prairie fire, Rudbeckia and Sedum Herbstfreude.
Place the plants in a criss-cross pattern to create a pretty prairie-style border.



Care tips

  • Plant out in the spring
  • Choose a sunny location
  • Make sure the soil is permeable
  • Water the first year to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out
  • From the second year onwards, only water during longer periods of drought
  • Cut back flowers past their best at the bottom of the stem

Published on: 1 Julho 2024