Better known as red hot pokers, kniphofias are familiar to all gardeners with their clumps of narrow leaves and tall spikes of tubular flowers in firey shades. All are native to Africa, but in the wild they grow in cool, moist areas so are well suited to our gardens. Kniphobias flower from late spring right through to autumn and these later kinds are invaluable at this time of year, contrasting in shape and from from the clouds of asters and daisy flowers of rudbeckias and perennial sunflowers. The late varieties include the common red and orange colours and also some subtle tones that are useful to add late season zing. Most kniphofias are tough and easy to grow but do best in soils that are moist and well drained so they may struggle in very dry soils or wet clay. A sunny spot will encourage the best flowers but most will also grow in a partly shade spot, but flowering may not be quite as profuse. Cut off dead flower stems once blooms have faded to keep the plants neat and prevent unwanted seed formation. Most red hot pokers are hardy but in cold winters the evergreen types may benefit from a covering with fleece.
FACT: There are 7 species of Kniphofias in the wild and most are evergreen and there have been hundred of hybrids that have been raised, mostly to create easy-to-grow, long flowering plants.