THREE STATELY RED-HOT POKERS (KNIPHOFIAS)

Cho­sen by plant hunter

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - GARDENING -

Red-hot pokers are a stately and ar­chi­tec­tural choice for the keen gar­dener. Their long-lived na­ture means they are re­ward­ing peren­ni­als that are well worth the space they re­quire to grow. Their un­mis­tak­able up­right stems hold ragged bi-coloured blooms above ever­green and de­cid­u­ous spiky grasslike fo­liage that splays out­wards to form clumped mounds. They make ex­cep­tional cut flow­ers, and are also loved by pol­li­nat­ing in­sects. Dead­head­ing should oc­cur after flow­er­ing to en­cour­age suc­ces­sional blooms, although the blooms hold well on the plants and cre­ate ex­cel­lent ver­ti­cal in­ter­est through­out win­ter. To en­sure op­ti­mum per­for­mance, select sites with full sun and fer­tile, welldrained soils.

This va­ri­ety forms com­pact clumps suited to smaller gar­dens. ‘Lit­tle Maid’ forms neat mounds of fo­liage that pro­vide a per­fect back­drop to the sub­tle flower coloura­tion. First emerg­ing in June, its lime-green hues slowly trans­form to ivory. It’s a great spec­i­men to plant among pur­ple peren­ni­als to add a con­trast­ing pop of colour. Its flower size mea­sures over half the length of each flower spike. Height 2ft 2in (65cm) and spread 1ft 4in (40cm).

De­scrip­tively re­ferred to as hav­ing rounded, fat, spher­i­cal flow­ers, this award-win­ning spec­i­men is ideal for plant­ing in larger, sun­nier borders. Its im­pres­sive wands of bril­liantor­ange and gold flow­ers rise from ro­bust arch­ing ever­green fo­liage from June to Septem­ber and, once es­tab­lished, it makes an eye-catch­ing spec­i­men. Very easy to grow, it mul­ti­plies through di­vi­sion. Height 5ft (1.5m) and spread 3ft 3in (1m). Hardy to -15C.

This rufa ‘Rasta’ is a very rare and funky spec­i­men. Its im­pres­sive stature is graced with un­usual pen­du­lous lime-green and co­ral-or­ange tubu­lar flow­ers from July to Oc­to­ber. Its com­po­si­tion is open and ex­otic, which ap­peals to the un­usual-plant hunter and as­so­ci­ates well with trop­i­cal plant­ing schemes. Height 3ft 3in (1m) and spread 1ft 6in (45cm).

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