Kniphofia spec.

Origin and Distribution

There are approximately 70 different species of Kniphofia, all of which originate from the African continent. The vast majority stem from eastern and southern Africa, only a few species come from Madagascar and the southern Arabian Peninsula. Many do only grow in summer in mountainous and alpine zones. Kniphofia is mostly used in perennial flowerbeds with dry and stony character. Its botanical generic name honors a Professor in Botanics from Erfurt called Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-1765).

Description

Kniphofia are perennial, herbaceous plants that have rhizomes. Together with their flowering stem they can reach a height of 80 to 160 cm in total. Their leaves are reed like, mostly wintergreen and form a tufted leafy crown up to 60 cm high.

The cluster-like and slim inflorescences are mainly bicoloured and vary from golden-yellow to orange-yellow and even scarlet. Depending on the species the Kniphofias’ blooming period ranges from June until October. The propagation either happens through the division of the sturdy rootstock in spring-time or by sowing. Kniphofia prefer a sunny, rather dry and very nutrient-rich place to grow. Most species are sensitive to frost and moisture in winter times.

Interesting Facts

A protection against frost and rotting is the use of dry covering material in winter. The leaves shouldn’t be cut in autumn but bundled to build an additional shield against rain and moisture.

The following Kniphofia species are rather less sensible for frost. Therefore, they are considered as winter-hardy.

-       Kniphofia porphyrantha

-       Kniphofia baurii

-       Kniphofia hirsuta

-       Kniphofia ritualis

-       Kniphofia triangularis subsp. triangularis

-       Kniphofia hybrid ’Galpinii’

In floristry the Kniphofia are often used as cut flowers.

Garden Design

Kniphofia can be a special, decorative part of a rock garden or a colourful perennial flowerbed. In combination with other attractive partners such as lilies, Ceanothus, grasses, flowering sea kale, Euphorbia, Allium, catmint, Yucca and sage Kniphofia will enrich every garden.