The Q&A Archives: Red Hot Poker Blooms

Question: I've got a number of Kniphofia in my yard and over the years I've never seen one turn red. They will get a light green with some yellow and then the small blooms will start to die (get eaten?) away starting from the bottom. In little time there is nothing but the stalk. I've tried Sevin in case there were some microscopic bugs eating these blooms but to no avail. Is this just the life course of these plants and I have a green variety that will never show red?

Answer: There are several named varieties of Kniphofia, with varying bloom colors. You may well have a soft yellow or creamy white variety. If your plants are in sunny spots and are given little to no water during the summer months, they should thrive. Hold back on water and fertilizer this summer and see if that doesn't stress your plants just enough to produce tall flower spikes that open completely before they die off. The blooms are attractive to insects and to hummingbirds - and Sevin is toxic to both, so hold off on chemical applications, too! Hope the above helps your Kniphofia give a great display this year.

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