The Q&A Archives: Deadheading Kniphofia

Question: Last year I planted two Red Hot Poker plants. After a alot of foliage production, only one of the two produced any blooms, and then they were only approximately l8" tall and yellow. I cut the foliage back severely in the fall and this year the foliage came back strong and the other plant produced a lot of red blooms on 3-4 foot stems. The plant which had produced last year did not bloom until approximately 3 weeks after the other plant had finished and again this plant produced yellow blooms on much shorter stems. Are there two different varieties of this plant? Am I to deadhead the long flower stalks after blooming? Do I cut them back in the fall severely to the ground?

Answer: Red Hot poker (Kniphofia) is available in a number of varieties, and many of them are sold as a "mix". This can be unsettling if you are expecting a matched pair, but as long as your plants are blooming and healthy....

In my experience, it is best to wait for the flower to fade and then trim off the flower stalk near the base. Then leave the foliage alone so it can continue growing and replenish the plant. In the fall when the foliage finally dies back after frost, trim it off. Some years the foliage looks good all through late fall, so I leave it until it looks ratty the following spring and then remove it. The main point of leaving the foliage throughout the growing season is to promote plant health and vigor and allow the plant to build strength to come back bigger and better the following year!


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