Kniphofia northii @ at SANBI

Started by Martin Bohnet, October 12, 2023, 11:31:07 PM

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Martin Bohnet

The South African National Biodiversity Institute has reached out to us to use a photo from our wiki in their "Plant of the Week" article series (thanks @Emil for coordination), and the final article is excellent, as always:

I'd like to add a bit to the horticultural side of things, growing it in southern Germany. Obviously, seasons are switched, here it flowers in mid to late May. For now it seems totally hardy, coldest winter temperatures it took without notable damage was a night of -12°C. I've grown mine from seed sown in 2017, had it overwintered frost free in that first year, and planted out ever since, as this monster will likely not take being pot-bound for long - pic 1 shows its first snow in December 2018. It started flowering in 2020, at a rather modest size, but now as of 2023 has become a huge, multi-headed clump, completely occupying an area of 1.20 meters diameter, but with leaves reaching another 50 cm in all directions - almost too much of a monster for my small garden. The flowers only last for about two weeks for me, but you'll have an impressive clump of wide leaves some people will mistake for an Agave for the rest of the year.

As mine is a single plant, it doesn't set seed - not even with the garden center "K. uvaria" (which most should be hybrids)  or Kniphofia pauciflora
Height: 45-60 cm (1.5-2 ft)
Flower Colors: yellow
Flower Season: mid spring to early summer
, which flowers around the same time (and is the other end, size-wise, of the Genus)

Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)


Kniphofia seem to be "odd" in terms of hardiness.

When I moved here to my current home, there was a very large clump (several stems, maybe 4 feet (1.2m) across) of what was probably a very ordinary cultivar, which was overgrown with grass and much besides. It was rescued and survived for several years until we had a string of days below freezing. That killed the entire plant.

Kniphofia ritualis seeds tooks 2? 3? seasons to show above ground here on an outdoor bench, but never really got going.

K. caulescens does not like my climate at all..........

I have often wondered what the plant was in the garden next to us as kids - the base looked like a small pampas grass - (Cortaderia selloana),  maybe 2 feet across, 18 unches tall, with arching leaves with no obvious structure beyond being a tuft of tough foliage. So far as I recall, it flowered every year with several flower stems.