Kniphofia 'Lemon Popsicle'
Common Name: red-hot poker 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.25 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

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.

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.

'Lemon Popsicle' is a vigorous, dwarf, hybrid cultivar in the Popsicle™ Series developed by Terra Nova Nurseries in Canby, Oregon. This compact, clump-forming selection can reach up to 1.5' tall and 1.5' across. Starting in early summer and continuing into early fall, numerous upright, spike inflorescences of yellow, tubular flowers bloom on sturdy, 2' tall flowering stalks. Very attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. An excellent selection for cutting. This plant is protected by patent number PP24011.

Problems

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.

Uses

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