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What is Kniphofia Uvaria?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Kniphofia uvaria is a species of flowering plant belonging to the Kniphofia genus under the Asphodelaceae family. This flowering plant also goes by the names torch lily, red hot poker, and tritoma due to the color of its flowers and its shape. It originated in South Africa and found its way around the world to North America, New Zealand, and Europe. This plant’s flowers can be colored coral red or orange and are tinged with ivory. The flower spikes of the Kniphofia uvaria can reach up to 2 to 5 feet (about 0.6 to 1.5 m) in height, depending on the variety.

Blooms of this perennial plant can be seen between May and October. The plant is normally not grown alone, as many gardeners prefer its appearance when it is grown in large clumps. Due to its exotic appearance, it is a regular in tropical-themed gardens. This Kniphofia species is among the hummingbirds’ favorite sources of food as well.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

This plant requires full sun and adequate space because some varieties are known to grow up to 3 feet (about 0.9 m) in width. Moist, well-drained soils are preferred by this plant to avoid the rotting of its crown, but it is tolerant of poor soil conditions once it has adjusted to its location. Kniphofia uvaria is capable of surviving short drought episodes; it grows best, however, when supplied with plenty of water during summer. It's normally best to plant it during the fall or spring with added peat moss and compost. When replanting, the plant’s crown should not go deeper than about 3 inches (8 cm).

The Kniphofia uvaria plant may be grown directly from seeds or propagated via root division. The seeds may be propagated inside a greenhouse or covered area at any time of the year. They normally are kept cold and moist for about six weeks before being planting, and even can be kept in a refrigerator. Once sown, the seeds can be covered with a thin layer of fine soil at a temperature of about 70°F (21°C) and can take up to three months to germinate.

Division should generally be performed during late fall or spring. These divisions can either be potted until fresh saplings have sprouted or directly replanted into the ground. Dividing the roots may hinder the plant's flowering ability for several years, however.

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