Winter Pokers

Grow Your Own: Winter Pokers

The perfect flower to remind us of summer when we’re in autumn, heading for the dark nights of winter, is the Kniphofia Rooperi. A winter poker that produces sunset orange flowers in October and November, growing from crispy triangular buds into a perfect rounded shape.

There are approximately 70 species of Kniphofias that come mainly from South Africa. They tend to be found in damp meadows and on mountain slopes. They were named after Johann Hieronymus Kniphor who produced a folio on them.

The specific species, the Rooperi, were named after Reverend Thomas Rooper of Wick Hill in Brighton who was the first to grow them after the original plant was sent to him by his son.

They tend to flower in October and November and produce sunset-orange flowers with a yellow skirt.

Where to plant your winter pokers

Choose deep fertile soil that is in an area that doesn’t become water logged in the winter and gets plenty of sunshine. Kniphofia Rooperi grows well next to dahlias, in particular dark-leaved apricot-orange David Howard Dahlias. Highly recommended for borders with its long flowering period.

Growing tips

  • Sow in pots or trays of good seed compost
  • Place in a propagator or warm place, ideally a temperature of 15 – 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Sow at a depth of 6mm from February to July, after sewing be sure to allow them plenty of light as this helps germination, which should take 7 to 14 days.
  • Keep the surface of the compost moist but not water logged.
  • When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5 cm pots or trays.
  • When all risk of frost is over they will be ready for planting out, in a moist well-drained soil in full sun, spacing plants by 45-60 cm.
  • Twice a year be sure to tidy the evergreen foliage of the pokers as this can become shabby. Remove the fading foliage in autumn and tidy thoroughly in late spring. Always check for snails during your tidy up as they can damage buds at a critical stage and result in malformed flowers.
  • During your late spring tidy up you should: Divide your pokers. You may need the aid of a knife to cut the root stock into sections on the larger specimens.
  • Replant in the garden or pot up
  • De-head which prevents them from setting seed and promotes more flowers.
  • Remember to keep your plants well watered as they will flower at their best after copious amounts of summer rain.

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