Every month here at Cape Contours we highlight a new plant (both exotics and indigenous species) and tell you about its qualities that we think make it a worthwhile addition to your gardens landscape.

For the Month of November we are adoring Kniphofias! The summer-flowering species and cultivars are all about to flower in shades of fiery red, orange and yellow and even lime green.

Known as ‘Red Hot Pokers’ due to their shape and colour, Kniphofias make a brilliant display in the summer garden either on their own, en masse, or as bright, fiery accents in a shrub border of other indigenous plants or ornamental grasses. They can fit into most styles of gardening, from cottage gardens to ultra-modern, but we especially love them planted with Agapanthus for the wonderful purple and orange contrast they make at this time of the year.

Kniphofias grow best in rich soil, well-draining soil in an open, sunny or partially shaded position. Most species require plenty of water during the Spring and Summer if they are to thrive and flower well. They should also be fertilised monthly during their active growing period. Although Kniphofia species are generally hardy plants, they shouldn’t be disturbed once planted and as a rule shouldn’t be divided as this causes the plant to weaken and not flower well. Better to wait until they become overcrowded and then separate the offsets so as to not lose a whole plant.

Most species of Kniphofia are evergreen while a few are deciduous (seasonal), dying down in winter but sprouting their basal sword-like, arching, dark green leaves again in the early summer. The large spikes of tubular flowers in bold shades of red, orange, yellow and cream are borne well above the foliage on tall, upright stems in late summer. The flowers are magnets for sugarbirds, white-eyes and sunbirds as well as other nectar-drinking birds and insects. They last ages and make excellent cut flowers for the vase too.

Some commonly cultivated Kniphofia species include K. praecox, K. linearifolia, K. uvaria, K. multiflora and K. caulescens.

Happy Gardening folks!