Wednesday, June 06, 2007

One weird plant per year, Kniphofia Red-Hot Poker

We seem to buy one weird looking plant each year. Last year it was the Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos and this year we bought a Kniphofia or Red-Hot Poker. The Kangaroo paw was frost tender so the plant was a goner. Hopefully the Kniphofia will survive the winter as it is rated to -5F. A book mentions that you can lift the plant and store it in a cool place if the temps fall below -5 but I'll just pile on the mulch and hope for the best. The pot actually contained one flowering stalk but also many smaller plants that did not send up a flower. So next year I hope to post a photo with many of these torches in bloom.

As you can see the color becomes more vivid as the plant blooms. The first two photos show the plant as it first came from the nursery. The buds are sort of a dull light brown-orange-green turning to bright orange and yellow as the flowers open. There's a bug on the flower head in the first photo. Click on the photo to enlarge.


Blogger lisa said...

Wow that's nice! I bought some of these for the first time this year, too. My source, Michigan Bulb, lists these hardy to zone 5...sounds like they fibbed a bit (no real surprise). I had planned to give mine a "zone-boosting" spot anyway, but now I'm thinking I should leave a couple in pots and take them in at the end of the season. Good luck with yours!

6:34 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I've noticed those blooming in many, many yards in central Virginia. Not so many in northern Virginia, but I'm pretty sure they're hardy here. I never grew any, so never realized that the light colored flowers at the bottom are those that are open. Somehow I just assumed that those would be the faded ones.

I used to have the same solar lights as you do, by the way. I put them away in the garage to get them out of the way of the construction last summer and never put them back out. I need to find them again....

9:08 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

See! Lisa, what did I just say about great minds? I think Michigan Bulb fibbed a lot. Most of them are listed as zone 7-10 plants and only one K. uvaria var. maxima is listed at zone 5-10. It does look like the one I bought but with a much larger flower head and brighter colors. maybe I have the minima? ;) I hope yours blooms this year.

Hi entangled,
Gottagarden who lives in Virginia just posted pictures of her Kniphofia. So I'm sure they are hardy there. She can grow so many things I can't, like gardenias which makes me quite envious.

Yeah, it blooms from bottom to top. I've seen them before and I just assumed the whole thing was the flower and not each individual appendage a separate flower.

We've had the LED lights for about three years now. We thought it gave the garden a Japanese look. Most of them don't even light anymore but we've just left them up as decoration. The light was rather puny anyway. It didn't really illuminate anything but itself.

We bought some better but uglier ones made by Hampton Bay which are much brighter and lasts longer- for most of the night. But they still use NiCad batteries which are very hard to find nowadays and poisonous to the environment so I guess they'll end up as decoration too. I tried using a NiMH battery instead but it either didn't fit or didn't accept the charge, I can't remember which.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I have a hunch that your Pokers will survive - I grew them in Ottawa which is in a lower zone than yours. They are such cool plants. I was thinking they'd look great growing with Mina vines since the colours are almost identical. (Mina vine blooms open yellow and gradually redden as they mature.)

2:57 PM  
Blogger MrBrownThumb said...

I'm so jealous. I bought two of them last year for less than the cost of a fast food meal, but they didn't survive the winter. It didn't even dawn on me to mulch them after the ground had frozen but I think by then it was too late.

Hope you have better luck with yours.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate, that would be a wonderful combination! Each plant becoming the other plant's color. Opposites meeting in the middle.

Great to hear they survive Ottawa's winter. I may lift the plant when it's done flowering though. I planted it in a location where it seems to be totally out of place with the rest of the plants. It has such a unique look you can't simply put it anywhere as I did.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Sorry to hear yours didn't survive Mrbrownthumb. I wouldn't have known to mulch it either until I read some info on the plant. As you said, luckily it was a pretty cheap plant so I hope you are able to replace the ones you lost. I'll let you know next year if they survive the winter. Hopefully I got the right one.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Well, I didn't lose mine this winter and I didn't mulch... but they did spend the -7 degree days covered with a foot of snow. So maybe that is the key. (Thanks, Ma Nature, for mulching the garden for me--even though the shoveling was a bear!)

8:25 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim,
Great to hear they can survive -7F when mulched even with snow. You've a good mom to help you with your plants! I usually shovel the snow on the walks into the planting beds to help insulate the plants from the cold winds that usually follow the snowstorm. I figure if it's good enough for the Eskimos...

I either read of heard somewhere that the inside of an igloo is a balmy 35-40 degrees. Makes you want to take all your clothes off. ;)

4:13 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

35-40 degrees inside an igloo??! I would seriously wonder whether it was ever worthwhile to take a shower in those temperatures! (Dirt's insulating, right?!) lol.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Kim, I think the air temperature can actually be that warm in igloos without having water drip from the top or walls because the snow is so cold it forms a thin layer of ice that constantly refreezes. I always was curious how people kept clean in those frigid temperatures or in some places in Africa where water is a scarce commodity. Never mind trying to keep clean but just to have enough drinking water to survive!

Dirt also was thought to be protective during the Middle Ages and washing would bring on disease ? ;) The southwest is experiencing a prolonged drought thought to be caused by global warming. Maybe we'll be like people in the Middle Ages before long.

We Americans use 200 gallons of potable water per person per day! Truly excessive.

7:26 PM  

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