Grow Red Hot Poker for a Flock of Pollinators
You might know these plants as torch lilies, but birds and other pollinators in your yard know them as colorful, nectar-filled delights!
Red Hot Poker Care
- Common name: Red-hot poker, torch flower or torch lily
- Scientific name: Kniphofia hybrids
- Zones 5 to 9
- Soil: Well-draining soils
- Light needs: Full sun
- Attracts: Birds, bees and butterflies
It’s easy to see how this sun-loving stunner earned its name. Red hot poker is one of the most dramatic and visually appealing flowers in the garden. You only need a few plants to make an absolutely spectacular display.
The plants grow up to 4 feet high and are among the earlier summer bloomers. Red hot poker works well as a focal point in borders, or as a specimen plant in a small-space garden.
Keep these perennials happy with well-draining soil. They’re prone to rot in boggy or even moist soil. They make great cut flowers, but you’ll want to leave plenty for the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to enjoy.
Flashpoint has chartreuse yellow buds that mature to creamy white; try Orange Blaze for bright orange blooms. Poco Sunset offers dramatic, long-lasting bicolored blooms in a dwarf size.
See the top 10 beautiful lily flowers to love.
Torch Lilies Are Not True Lilies
Red hot poker plants are also commonly known as torch lilies. Even though they are in the lily family, they do not closely resemble true lilies like Asiatic lilies and Oriental lilies.
Learn the difference between a true lily vs a daylily.
Stop Deer From Eating Red Hot Poker Plants
“Something is eating the flowers off my red hot poker plant each year. What could it be and what should I do?” asks Brenda Cookus of Midlothian, Virginia.
Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “When larger parts of a plant are missing, animals like deer, rabbits, chipmunks or squirrels are usually the culprits. When just a few flowers disappear at a time, birds are often the ones dining on your plant. Try covering the plants with netting or row covers to see if this stops the damage. An organic, rain-resistant repellent such as Plantskydd will protect your plants from hungry critters but won’t dissuade the birds.”
Daylily care 101: expert growing tips for gardeners.
Birds That Love Red Hot Poker
Courtesy Marina Schultz
“I love orioles, and they love the red hot poker plants in my backyard. This male Bullock’s oriole was feeding on the blooms. The plants have sturdy stems that are strong enough to support a bird’s weight. As many as four orioles feed simultaneously on my poker patch. I hope more people will plant this spectacular flower for this beautiful bird!” says Marina Schultz of Fruita, Colorado.
Courtesy Amy Williams
“My neighbor’s side lot is completely filled with red hot poker plants. Every spring, I look forward to hearing the sweet buzzy tweets that signal the arrival of migrating cedar waxwings. This group was exceptionally busy—and hungry! The waxwings munch the flowers down until the stalks look like used corncobs,” says Amy Williams of Lincoln City, Oregon.
Courtesy Jim Nelson
“I was admiring and photographing these blooming red hot pokers on an early summer morning in Reno, Nevada, when the pictured lesser goldfinch flew in for a quick nectar shot. He stayed but 30 seconds, allowing me several shots with my Nikon Z7, and was then on his way. It was as if the scene was scripted, and laid out in a perfect photographic scenario—which most photographers will tell you rarely happens. For me, a perfect morning outing,” says Jim Nelson.
Courtesy Laurie Stuchlik
“I kept seeing a gorgeous male blue grosbeak visit the red hot pokers just outside my dining room window, but each time I attempted to go outside to catch a photo, he’d fly away. My wonderful husband, Tim, took out the window’s screen so I could sit indoors and snap pictures of the bird eating from the flowers only several feet away. This worked brilliantly, and I was able to capture many delightful photos. I love the contrast of his sapphire blue and rusty coloring against the bright flowers,” says Laurie Stuchlik of Milton, Delaware.
Courtesy Amy Phillips
“After a gloomy, rainy summer day, the sun peaked out during golden hour in my backyard. This ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed all around and decided to dine at the red hot poker plant right by me. The bird generously allowed me to stay close, which was a delight after spending many months patiently waiting to capture one eating from the flowers instead of a feeder,” says Amy Phillips.
Next, check out lovely pictures of lilies you need to see.