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Products > Kniphofia northiae
Kniphofia northiae - Giant Poker
Image of Kniphofia northiae
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae (~Liliaceae)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red & Yellow
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Height: 2-4 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 F
Kniphofia northiae (Giant Poker) - This evergreen plant forms dense 6 foot wide clumps of pale gray-green arching leaves that are up to 6 inches wide at the base and 2 to 3 feet long at the tapering tip. This is one of the few Kniphofias known to form a trunk, with older plants developing one up to 1 foot tall. In spring appear the flower stalks which by summer have risen to 3 feet above the foliage with dense ovoid heads that are pinkish-red in bud and open to a pale yellow. Some rebloom has been reported in fall. Plant in full sun to part shade. Not particular about soil and even tolerates heavy wet soils. Tolerates drought conditions but performs best with regular summer irrigation or even wet soil. Hardy to USDA Zone 6 (0 to 10) where it is noted as being one of the few Aloe-like plants that can be grown in that climate zone. This plant comes from steam banks, along cliffs and in grasslands below 1,000 feet in the Eastern Cape to ZwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. The name Kniphofia honors Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704 -1763), a German physician and botanist. The pronunciation of this genus is often argued about and while most continue to use the easiest to pronounce versions such as ny-FOE-fee-ah or nee-FOF-ee-a, others argue correctly that the name should follow the pronunciation of the name it commemorates. But even for this there are differences of opinion owing to different German regional dialects - one such pronunciation often noted as correct is nip-HOFF-ee-uh while another that is particularly hard to pronounce is k-nip-HOF-ia. Keeping it simple we still use ny-FOE-fee-ah. The species was described by John Gilbert Baker in 1889 to honor biologist and botanical artist Marianne North (1830-1890), who painted a beautiful plein air portrait of this species and whose paintings are housed in the North Gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Another common name for this plant is Octopus Torch. This species was awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2006. Our thanks go out to Tony Avent of Plant Delights for this plant. Tony reported seeing huge colonies of these growing in soggy soil along the edge of a cold mountain stream in Tiffendell South Africa and also noted that it performed well in his North Carolina dry sandy soil, heat and humidity.  The information about Kniphofia northiae displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.