This weeks plant of the week, is one of the last flowering red hot pokers and for me it is one of the best as well, I love the shape and the colour of this special red hot poker that really light up the border like a torch! The 3-4ft flower spikes are borne over the evergreen foliage from about now up until the first hard frosts hit, they just add a delightful torch of light into our borders, just in time to darken up our sometimes dull autumn days. Even when not in flower, the leaves, add a great architectural element into any garden.
It is a South African plant that loves to live in the damp valleys and that’s one thing to remember when looking after it. Kniphofia rooperi loves to grow into a dampish humus rich soil, in a sunny area but it will grow in drier soil as long as it is well mulched and looked after. It’s very easy to propagate as well, either from seed sown and left over winter in a cold frame, from dividing up the plant in the spring, using a carefully aimed spade to divide up the clump or indeed from cutting the new growth in the spring and potting on into compost. It was named after the great German botanist Johann Hieronymus Kniphof. He wrote one of the greatest books of the 1700, Botanica in originali.
This beautiful clump is at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens but is used in so many more beautiful gardens around the country. Again it’s pretty easy to buy from various nurseries like Hardys Cottage plants
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Such a unique flower!
So torch like isn’t 😀 never get bored seeing it growing
Interesting that you say it originate from damp valleys. I hadn’t realised that – i thought they hailed from dryer areas. I haven’t had much success keeping Kniphofia going here in Cardiff. I’ve lifted them, divided and potted them up now. I had put it down to the soil being wetter than they like. Presumably though they like it damp they do need good drainage? That is a challenge in my garden during wet winters but perhaps I can improve it and put them back in for another chance.
I think they range from many different areas in South Africa, so indeed come from drier areas while others nestle into dips and cracks in these dry spots where the water sits. Funny enough rooperi is sold as a water plant in South Africa so it is much better on a damp soil compared to other forms, so it might be worth giving this one a go 😀
Thanks, I will look out for rooperi, I’ve not noticed them anywhere before. Don’t suppose you know the subspecies that most garden varieties come from? I’m guessing they are hybrids but from which parents I don’t know. I have Pineapple popsicle, Flamenco and Nancy’s Red.
I must admit I don’t, there’s a wonderful newish book out now on kniphofia that is on my to buy next time at wisley list! Looks beautiful indeed. I love those forms as well, just wish I had 5 acres to play with and grow loads more
Thank you for this info, I too thought they needed dry soil. New to your blog and pleased I found you. At 69 years old I have upsized my garden from a small London garden to a third of an acre in Hampshire and have to completely rethink my approach to certain shrubs and plants. I will be learning so much I think.
Thank you Jackie 😀 I hope you will find my blog useful, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask away. A lot of forms do need pretty dry soil, some need it a little damper as they will only grow in the dips in the drier areas while rooperi can be found almost growing in water.
Like “GFB” down the road in Cardiff, I’ve not had much success with Kniphofia but this is a variety I haven’t come across before. My soil tends towards over-wet, perhaps because I never let it dry out – it would turn to concrete if it did! So maybe roperi will help me fill my September flowering gap. A quick search reveals I have a choice of Beth Chatto and Burncoose (among others), both of which also list other plants on my ever-growing want list so I can make up a decent order.
Sorry John I am back to adding plants to the list again aren’t I, but yes it handles the heavier damper soils a lot better than more of the other forms, shame you are not nearer, I have a list for burncose that I need to send off! That said off that way in December for a couple of talks so may pop in on the way though