pokers or torch lilies for New Yearís Day look to be a
distinct possibility for us in Savannah, Ga. Because of
our coastal location I could never promise this for you,
unless you live in a mild climate. What I can suggest is
that if you love torch lilies in the late spring and
early summer you may want to give the fall blooming
species a try in your garden.
speaking I am referring to Kniphofia rooperi, which is a
cold hardy to zero and perennial from zones 7-10. The
common names range from Rooperís redhot poker to East
Cape poker and the fall blooming torch lily. No matter
what you call it, it is a great plant.
East Cape poker gives reference to its origination on
the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Sometimes taxonomy
strikes me as humorous as it does with this plant. Its
family name has been in flux over the last few years
such as Lilliaceae, Asphodelaceae, and now may it rest
in peace, it finds its position in the Xanthorrhoeaceae.
Good grief! Basically what this means to you is that itís
related to other plants you may know such as the aloe,
daylily and bulbine.
the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens ours has been
blooming for about 11 weeks and is just as riveting as
its cousin the Kniphofia uvaria that blooms in late
spring and summer. In a way the East Cape poker may even
be more beautiful as most gardeners are totally
surprised to see its flaming red-orange and yellow
blossoms in the fall.
ours started sending the glorious 3 to 4-foot tall
blossoms in October, some report much earlier blooms and
a few later. Though these still arenít the staples at
the local garden center like they will be you will have
no problem locating sources from specialty catalogues.
It has been given the Award of Garden Merit from the
Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom, which
speaks volumes and coincides with the talk going around
the U.S. garden industry.
a location with plenty of sun, the more the better.
Fortunately the East Cape poker is not finicky when it
comes to soil pH. The soil however should be
fertile, organic rich and very well-drained to ensure a
spring return. In the warmer zones the plants will be
evergreen with in the colder areas the foliage will
return with spring growth.
plant is so striking that as your clump grows you will
rejoice and want to divide in the spring by taking
offshoots or pups from the crown. There is otherwise
little maintenance other than to deadhead or remove the
old flower stalks and any damaged or frozen foliage as
needed in the spring.
are growing ourís close to sago palms, Cycas revoluta,
which looks really good but know they would excel in
conjunction with just about any cold hardy palm. You
could not beat having a few clumps as understory
companions to the windmill palm, Tracycarpus fortunei.
They also look magically at home in a partnership with
is closer than you think. If you live in zones 7 and
warmer then you should consider the fall blooming East
Cape poker or Torch Lily for your garden.