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The Red-hot poker, or Torch lily, is easily recognized by its distinctive and dramatic flower spikes during its springtime flowering cycle. When not flowering, it is recognized as a clumping perennial with soft and flexible strap-like leaves often growing 2-3 ft. high and as wide.

The Red-hot poker is a popular seasonal flowering accent plant. Many cultivars are now available from nurseries and garden centers; some are large and robust, others are petite. The common flower color is orange and yellow. One cultivar, K. u.'Christmas Cheer' is a robust cultivar with 4-5 ft. long leaves. It flowers in late fall near the holidays, with stalks reaching 4-5 ft. tall. Emerging flowers are orange-red and open to a rich gold color.

Other cultivars include: K. u. 'Malibu Yellow' has clear lemon-yellow flowers; K. u.'Shining Sceptre' has pumpkin orange flowers, and K. u. 'Wilhelm's Lance' is a giant selection with intense red-orange and yellow flowers. All are fine additions to border and mixed perennial plantings, as well as for raised planters and banks. Sunny locations, loam soil and moderate water throughout the year achieve the best performance.

Water Needs

The Red-hot poker and its many cultivars grow well in partial shade to sunny locations on loamy soils and with regular summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates this plant can grow with varying amounts of water; summer water helps sustain its foliage character particularly when planted in sunny exposures.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Clumping
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 2 ft. - 5 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 6 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Moist soil, Loam
Exposure Adaptations: Frost, All day sun
Function: Rock gardens, Mass planting, Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, Borders, Banks


Remove dead flower stems as needed by cutting at the base (D). Remove tattered or poor looking leaves in the fall through early spring (5, 18).



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