Common name/s ?

Red hot poker 'Sunningdale Yellow' and torch lily 'Sunningdale Yellow'

Skill rating



South Africa

Type of plant ?

Deciduous herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 90cm height by 45cm spread.

Growth rate ?

Moderate, will reach full size in 2 to 5 years.

Shape it grows into

Forms clumps of fountain-like foliage from which taller flower spikes grow.

Season/s of interest

Flowers summer to early autumn.

Where to grow it

Happiest in full sun.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Kniphofia plants like well drained, sandy or loam soil that remains moist thoughout the summer (they can survive drought but won’t flower well) and has a neutral or acidic pH. Prefers a south-facing spot and is happy with exposed areas, including coastal conditions.

Kniphofia 'Sunningdale Yellow'


Long leaves froth out from the central clump, while erect stems appear in summer tipped with dense spikes of  deep yellow, tubular flowers.

What to use it for

Great in the middle of borders, particularly those with a hot colour scheme, where they will shoot up like fireworks. Can be used in cottage-style gardens or more urban designs and makes good cut flowers. They will suit mediterranean, gravel or coastal gardens and are low maintenance plants. They can also benefit wildlife as bees enjoy their nectar and some birds feed on their pollen.

How to look after it

When planting, dig humus into the soil to enrich it. An organic mulch applied each autumn would benefit the plant.

Once planted, except for minimal pruning, these plants are relatively low maintenance. However, you should ensure that they are watered in dry spells as they prefer a moist (albeit well drained) soil.

How to prune it

Prune out any flowered stems from the base. You can also remove any tatty or dead leaves.

How to propagate it

Clumps can be divided in mid to late spring. Large sections can be immediately re-planted, but smaller sections should be potted up and grown on for a year before planting out.

Seeds can be collected in autumn (cultivars may not come true from seed) and sown in spring at 15°C.

Common problems

May be attacked by slugs, snails or thrips. Violet root rot also occasionally affects Kniphofia.

If the plant isn’t flowering well, it may be that it is not getting enough sun and/or that the soil around it has been allowed to dry out.

Other useful information

The genus Kniphofia is named after Johann H. Kniphof (1704–1763), a German botanist.

This plant was developed by Sunningdale Nurseries in 1968 and has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS.