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Kniphofia ‘Royal Strain’

Vuurpyl, Red Hot Poker


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Kniphofia ‘Royal Strain’ bears fiery orange-red flowers in winter.

The buds at the top of the flower stem are dark red and as they get bigger and begin to open they brighten to orange. The open blossoms at the base of the stem are the colour of old gold. Mature size about 1 m x 50 cm.

Nine times out of ten, the bright orange-red flashes that catch your eye as you walk past an otherwise bleak winter garden are those of Kniphofia. These red hot pokers were one of the first cuttings we begged from our grandmothers when we started our own gardens. South Africa has approximately 47 species of both summer- and winter-flowering kniphofias (but only a few are cultivated commercially), and an abundance of hybrids that can be found at specialist nurseries. Generally speaking, these perennials have swordshaped leaves that are either deciduous or evergreen (determined by the climate) and slender, yet sturdy, flowering stems that end in dense clusters of cylindrical flowers. Kniphofias are ideal for gardens aimed at attracting wildlife, such as a bird or nature garden, because the flowers are rich in nectar. The plants form dense clumps that make them suitable for mass plantings in a large garden. They are also exceptionally pretty between grasses and aloes, and lovely near a natural water feature.

When do they bloom?

Winter- and summer-flowering hybrids are available.

Most suitable climate

Kniphofias will grow anywhere.

What they need

Location: full sun or light shade.
Soil: any well-drained soil is suitable. Add lots of compost, plus some bone meal, to strengthen the root system and to encourage the dense clumps to form quickly.
Water: medium to low water consumption.
Fertilizing: feed with slow-release 3:1:5, or an organic equivalent, in late summer for winter bloomers and in spring for summer bloomers.

In a nutshell

* Timeless, enduring perennials.
* Clumps should be divided only when they are very dense.
* Lovely cut flowers.