Despite containing no toxic plant parts, Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia spp.) is not the meal of choice for deer, rabbits, and other backyard pests. While no plant is truly 100% deer proof, Red Hot Poker is generally left alone. In fact, the vibrant red-to-yellow blooms attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, as well as hummingbirds.
According to Rutgers University, this plant is rated as Seldom Severely Damaged on their rating scale from Rarely Damaged to Frequently Severely Damaged. The likelihood of deer munching on your Red Hot Poker will depend on the local deer population, availability of other sources of food, and the time of year.
Keeping Deer Away From Red Hot Poker
If you have found that deer tend to cause damage to the Kniphofia in your yard, we recommend using store-bought deer repellents, home remedies such as cayenne pepper and garlic powder, or using a physical barrier such as fencing. Generally, perennials that are planted closer to dwellings are less impacted than those farther away, depending on the boldness of your local deer population.
Will Red Hot Poker Come Back After Deer Eat Them?
Should your Kniphofia be unlucky enough to be decimated by deer, all hope is not lost. These are vigorously growing plants with rhizomes that store energy as the plant grows. Depending on the season, you may see new growth appear at the base of the plant. In the spring or summer, providing your Red Hot Poker with some fertilizer can give the plant the push it needs to regrow. While the plant may not bloom as usual after such an event, foliage growth will help the plant regain the energy needed to bloom the following year.
Sources: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ‘Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance’ 2018
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Author Lynn Gusman - Published 9-21-2022