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Garden Plants for Flower Arrangements: Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria)

kniphofia uvaria 2Also called torch lily, this herbaceous perennial is native to South Africa where it grows on damp slopes as marshy areas. Stiff, semi-evergreen, grey-green leaves up to 36” inches long are sword like and have sharp points. They form clumps that give rise to leafless stems carrying tubular flowers in densely packed terminal racemes six to ten inches long. The flowers face downward and are red when they first open, turning orange and then yellow as they mature. Red, orange, and yellow flowers are all present on the same stem at the same time giving the appearance of a torch or hot poker. Many good cultivars are available varying in color, height, and bloom time so you can have flowers in the garden and for the vase from early spring until fall. The flowers on their long stems are excellent for tall background material in arrangements. The red, orange, and yellow of the flowers goes very well in fall arrangements with flowers like orange dahlias, apricot roses, and autumn colored foliage.

Cutting: Cut on long stems or no shorter than six inches below the flower head.
Conditioning: Give stems a long drink in deep water.
Preserving: Not relevant
Size: 2-5’ H x 2-4’ W (depending on the culitvar)
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 5-9 ( 5 with crowns covered by leaves drawn up above the crown secured in a tepee.
Propagation: Seed, division in spring (but plants are best left undisturbed if possible)
Care: Remove foliage after flowering as it declines.

Recommended Reading:

Flowers: The Book of Floral Design
Tussie-Mussies: The Language of Flowers
The Complete Flower Arranging Book