The Torch Lily (Kniphofia), also sometimes called the Red Hot Poker plant, is an ornamental perennial native to Africa but now grown throughout the U.S. The plant is esteemed for its tall, brightly-colored flower stalks that can reach a height of up to 4 feet. The Torch Lily grows well in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8 and can make a colorful addition to your garden.
How to Plant a Torch Lily From Seeds
Layer the Torch Lily seeds between two damp paper towels on a plate. Place the plate in your refrigerator for 40 days. Keep the paper towels moist during this time. This mimics the natural cold of the winter and helps prepare the seeds for germination.
Prepare a garden pot or seedling tray. Fill with equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite and homemade or store-bought compost.
Sow the Torch Lily seeds when its 40 days of chilling is complete. Plant each seed 1/2 inch into the peat moss mixture and cover with loose mixture. Water daily to keep the soil moist. The seeds will sprout within 20 to 90 days, depending on the type of Torch Lily seeds you own. The nursery from which you obtained the seeds can inform you of the specific lily cultivar's germination timing.
Transplant the lily seedlings directly into an outdoor garden plot that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. For best growing results, the lily should be planted in loose, well-drained soil. If your soil is sandy or clayey, amend with compost or peat moss as needed.
How to Plant a Torch Lily From Rooted Cuttings
Prepare the garden plot. Select an area that receives six hours of sunlight or more. Breakup the ground with a spade. The Torch Lily requires well-drained, loose soil. If your soil health is not optimal, amend the area with compost or peat moss.
Obtain rooted cuttings. These may be cut off of an established Torch Lily plant, which produces rooted side shoots. Alternatively, obtain divided cuttings from another gardener or a plant nursery.
Plant the lily. Bury it to its original depth before the severed cutting was uprooted, typically at a point where the bottom of the cutting's plant crown is resting on the soil.
Water the Torch Lily daily until it exhibits new growth, a sign that the cutting has established itself in the area.
How to Care for a Torch Lily
Water the Torch Lily every two to three days when the soil around the lily has dried to a depth 1/2 inch below the surface. Adjust your watering intervals until you have established a natural watering rhythm, as your climate may be drier or wetter and need more frequent or less frequent watering.
Fertilize the Torch Lily with a standard flower fertilizer every spring. The fertilizer may be liquid or dry. Apply according to the fertilizer's guidelines, as product fertility and potency varies widely by manufacturer.
Prepare the Torch Lily for winter. Special winter care is required to prevent the flower plant from dying. Right before your region's first frost, tie together the plant's leaves into one large bunch using garden twine. This keeps water from entering the middle of the plant and freezing.
Cover the ground with an inch of mulch. Start two inches away from the base of the plant so that the mulch isn't touching the plant directly. Extend the mulch circle for one to two feet. This helps insulate the soil to keep it from freezing.
Prune back the Torch Lily in the spring after the weather has warmed up. Cut back the entire plant to its base, removing all of the dead foliage that died during the winter. The plant will grow back to its original lush form.
About this Author
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.