Kniphofia 'Elvira'

Common Name: red hot poker 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Orange
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil


Best grown in humus-rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Grows well in sandy soils. Intolerant of wet, heavy soils. Plants require sharp soil drainage, particularly in winter when root rot can be a severe problem. Best with a full sun exposure, but tolerates some light shade in hot summer climates. To the extent possible, locate in areas protected from wind. Promptly remove spent flower spikes. Crowns benefit from winter protection in USDA Zones 5 and 6. Tie leaves together in late fall to form a canopy over the crown in order to prevent water from settling in the crown and freezing. Root mulch in winter is also advisable. Cut back foliage to 3” above the ground in early spring in anticipation of the new growing season. Established clumps are best left undisturbed. If division becomes needed because of overcrowding, consider severing offsets from the edge of the plant to minimize the amount of disturbance to the rhizomes. Species plants may be grown from seed. Named cultivars usually must be divided, however, because the flower color typically will not come true from seed or viable seed will not be produced.

‘Elvira’ is a patented hybrid cultivar which will not produce viable seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Kniphofia is a genus of 60-70 species of evergreen to deciduous, mostly clump-forming, rhizomatous perennials featuring linear strap-shaped basal leaves and showy bottlebrush-like flower spikes. Common names such as red hot poker, rocket flower and torch lily describe the showy flower spikes (often broad at the top but tapered at the base) which are the signature feature of this ornamental perennial. Species plants are native to mountainous areas in southern to tropical Africa. From the center of a basal tuft (rosette) of coarse, strap-shaped, linear leaves rises a succession of thick, naked flower scapes featuring dense, terminal, spike-like racemes of drooping, short-stalked, tubular flowers. Flowers in each scape typically bloom, bottom to top, from late spring to mid-summer, often with some continued bloom to late summer or early fall. Numerous flower colors are available in commerce, including shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, white, greenish-white, creamy pastels and bicolor. Plant size ranges from dwarf (to 1 1/2’ tall) to very tall (to 6’ tall).

Hybrids are common and have considerably extended the available color options, plant sizes and bloom times. Hybrid development dates back to the mid-19th century when Kniphofia uvaria was crossed with several other species now currently known as K. bruceae, K. galpinii, K. pauciflora and K. triangularis. Most of the garden plants grown today are hybrids between 2 or more species.

Genus name honors Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-1763) German physician and botanist.

‘Elvira’ is a hybrid kniphofia that produces ornamentally impressive hot orange flowers in 8-10” long terminal racemes (to 70-100 densely packed flowers per raceme) atop 40” tall flower scapes rising well above a basal clump of medium green strap-shaped leaves typically rising to 28” tall. Bloom on each flower spike lasts about eighteen days. Flower spikes bloom, in succession, over a long, late spring to early fall bloom period. Each flowering spike is broad at the top but tapered at the base, thus resembling a torch or poker. This cultivar is the result of a cross between an unnamed female selection of K. uvaria and an unknown male selection of K. uvaria. Cultivar name honors Elvira Stringer, wife of the hybridizer Paul Stringer. U. S. Plant Patent PP22,134 was issued September 6, 2011.


No significant insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in wet, poorly-drained soils. Thrips may appear in some areas. Deer and rabbits tend to avoid this plant.


Outstanding vertical accent. Effective specimen. Small groups in a perennial border.