Colours now include pastel hues that will look elegant in any garden
Red hot pokers (kniphofias) have a reputation for being coarse plants with a short season of interest, but that’s just the old-fashioned varieties. Modern types have been bred to be slender, elegant and very long flowering into autumn. The range of colours has expanded from the common fiery orange-yellow and red to include pastel shades that look elegant in any garden. Most of the wild species come from South Africa and have tight, tubular flowers, dripping in nectar, which attract birds that drink from the blooms. In the garden here in the UK, they are popular with bees for the same reason. You can choose from varieties that are compact enough for patio pots at just 40cm (16in) to giants that tower above borders at 1.5m (5ft). Keep them happy Kniphofias are plants that grow best in full sun but, although they are tolerant of drought once established, they grow better in moist soils with regular care. They are happily free from most problems but snails can be a nuisance in spring and in wet weather. Tidy up plants by snipping off the faded flower stems and cut back the foliage in winter. They are especially good companions with grasses, echinaceas and other sun lovers.
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