Red Hot Poker Companion Plants

Red hot pokers are showy plants that thrive in water-wise designs and low-maintenance landscapes. These tough plants are drought tolerant once established and require little to no supplemental fertilizing to encourage tall flower spikes that seem to last forever even in intense heat. The vertical form of the flower stems make an interesting counterpoint to mounded and lower-growing plants. 

Mix and match red hot poker with other sun-loving plants that grow well on moderate to poorly fertile soil for an easy-care garden plan. Red hot poker grows well on hillsides, along driveways, sidewalks, and building foundations, as its fibrous root system holds soil in place and slowly expands in difficult-to-garden areas. 


Shrubs To Plant With Red Hot Poker

Red hot poker grows wonderfully in front of broadleaf and conifer evergreens. Barberry, pieris, sarcococca, and daphne finish blooming well in advance of red hot poker and provide a lovely solid green backdrop for the red-to-yellow flower spikes. Arborvitae and juniper in bright lime green or sulfur yellow can be used to accent the flower color of red hot poker. Planting red hot poker alongside native shrubs such as snowberry, dogwood, mock orange, and ninebark will help attract more beneficial pollinators to your garden while creating a low-maintenance landscape. 

Perennials To Plant With Red Hot Poker

Tall perennials like ornamental grasses, false indigo, coneflowers, and dahlia thrive in the same conditions as red hot poker and make a nice backdrop for smaller cultivars. Sedums, ice plant, and sempervivum can be grown as a ground cover to suppress weeds and cool the soil around red hot poker. Lightly mulching red hot poker with organic material will also help the soil retain moisture longer during the driest and hottest parts of summer. Perennials planted with red hot poker need to enjoy full sun and also appreciate moist soil.  

Annuals To Plant With Red Hot Poker

Annuals are best planted with the smaller varieties of red hot poker to avoid being overwhelmed by both the size and the root system of the larger types. Vigorous growers like sweet potato vines, nasturtiums, and snapdragons will fill in empty spots near red hot poker, resulting in a living mulch for the plants. The open shape and bright colors of cosmos and zinnia blend nicely with red hot pokers for a fantastic combination that stays in bloom through fall. These annuals work best when allowed to self-seed around the garden bed for a naturalistic look that also encourages many beneficial pollinators. 

Best Companion Plants For Red Hot Poker in Containers

Dwarf varieties of red hot poker are the best choice for growing in containers alongside other seasonal annuals or perennials. Varieties that top out at 18 inches to 3 feet tall are available in a wide range of hot sunset colors or soft pastels to suit any outdoor decor or design ideas. Plant the red hot poker in the middle of a large planter (at least 16 inches in diameter) as the thriller element. Add lantana in sunset shades and brilliantly colored sweet potato vine as fillers and spillers to provide color even after the red hot poker has finished blooming. 


Plants Not To Grow With Red Hot Poker

Plants that can tolerate seasonal flooding either in the winter or summer may not be suitable neighbors for red hot poker. The fibrous root system of red hot poker needs soil that retains moisture but drains freely. Growing red hot poker alongside Japanese iris, cattails, or calla lilies in standing water makes red hot poker more susceptible to crown rot and other growing problems. 

Best Plants To Grow With Red Hot Poker

Red hot pokers look best as a specimen plant in a garden border where its strongly architectural shape is a focal point. They also work well in a container alongside annuals or perennials that have equally strong forms such as sweet potato vines, lantana, salvia, and creeping Jenny. Ornamental grasses, native prairie flowers, and hardy succulent ground cover all thrive in well-draining, low-fertility soil, and in full sun locations. Try planting red hot poker along a driveway, a sidewalk, or another difficult-to-plant area and watch it flourish.

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Author Robbin Small - Published 10-05-2023