Red Hot Pokers

This perennial's upright wands of blooms in warm colors attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Colorful Combinations

Despite its evocative common name, red hot poker can bloom in yellow, orange, white, and even bi-colors, in addition to scarlet. Play with shape and texture when choosing planting companions for red hot poker. In contrast with its bold, upright flower spikes, a host of mounding plants with curved leaves and flowers make excellent planting companions. Consider these favorites: purple coneflower, all types of perennial salvia, agave, and sedum.

Red Hot Poker Care Must-Knows

Though red hot poker looks tropical, the plant is quite hardy. Plant container-grown red hot poker in early spring in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the plant's root zone to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds. Water new plants weekly for the first growing season in the garden. Clip spent flower blossoms to promote rebloom. Plants will send up a flush of flower spikes in late spring or early summer and continue blooming through the growing season if spent flowers are deadheaded.

Red hot poker doesn't tolerate division well, but you can divide the plant if you want to create more plants. Divide using a sharp spade to slice through the plant's root system. Transplants should have a large mass of roots and many aboveground stems. Replant all divisions in the spring, and be prepared to wait 2 to 3 years before the transplants bloom.

Grow These New Varieties

'Pineapple Popsicle' dwarf poker, a hummingbird favorite, is a reblooming cultivar with yellow pineapple-colored spikes that bloom all season long. Its grassy foliage grows about 2 feet tall. 'Flamenco' red hot poker has 8-inch points of red, orange, and yellow florets on the same stalk and makes a dynamic cut flower. 'Mango Popsicle' dwarf poker has yellow-orange blooms and 12- to 18-inch-tall reed-like foliage. 'Redhot Popsicle' poker is a dwarf plant with greenery growing just 14–16 inches tall and flower spikes standing 20 inches tall.

More Varieties of Red Hot Poker

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Red Hot Poker Overview

Description This can’t-miss perennial produces striking flowers that are both whimsical and architectural. Also known as torch lily, red hot poker blooms intermittently from late spring until fall, adding bold texture and color to the garden. Exceptionally easy to grow with a wide hardiness range, red hot poker is perfect for just about any full-sun planting spot.
Genus Name Kniphofia
Common Name Red Hot Poker
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color Green, Orange, Red, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage, Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Cut Flowers, Good for Containers
Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant
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'Shenandoah' Red Hot Poker

Shenandoah Red Hot Poker
Peter Krumhardt

Kniphofia 'Shenandoah' produces thick, leafless stems topped with robust yellow pokers below and red on top. These appear in early summer. The deciduous triangular leaves are strap-shaped. Zones 6–9

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'Shining Scepter' Red Hot Poker

Shining Scepter Red Hot Poker
Peter Krumhardt

Kniphofia 'Shining Scepter' blooms in midsummer with tangerine yellow pokers on 3- to 4-foot stems. Zones 6–9

Red Hot Poker Companion Plants

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Helenium

Helenium Mardi Gras
Peter Krumhardt

Long-blooming helenium lights up the late-season garden with showy daisy flowers in brilliant yellows, browns, and mahogany, centered with prominent yellow or brown discs. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids. All are excellent for cutting. Deadhead to extend bloom time and divide the clumps every couple of years to ensure vigor.

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Artemisia

Artemisia silver foliage
Cynthia Haynes

Grow artemisias for the magnificent silver foliage that complements nearly all other perennials and ties together diverse colors within the garden. They're nothing short of stunning next to white or blue flowers. They thrive in hot, dry, sunny conditions like a south-facing slope. Unfortunately, many artemisias spread rapidly to the point of being aggressive, so consider limiting yourself to well-behaved varieties.

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Perennial Salvia

Blue Salvia
Stephen Cridland

There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage. They all tend to have beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long bloom season up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they're easy to grow as annuals. On square stems with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade in well-drained average soil.

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