Watering Red Hot Poker

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia spp.) is a low-maintenance perennial that is somewhat drought tolerant when established. Red Hot Poker will need little more than the occasional watering and deadheading. One of the main things affecting Red Hot Poker blooms is a lack of water. While this plant can generally survive periods of drought, regular watering in the hottest months will help ensure continuous blooms. 


How To Tell If Red Hot Poker Needs Watered

When freshly planted, Red Hot Poker will need regular, deep waterings to help it establish healthy roots. Some indications that your Red Hot Poker is ready for water include wilting leaves that are fading and less vibrantly green, crispy leaf tips, and a lack of or slowed flower production. Red Hot Poker needs to be planted into well-draining soil, and failing to do so may lead to damaged roots and rot from overwatering. Soil that is dry and cracking is too dry, and your Red Hot Poker will appreciate a good soak. 


How Often To Water Red Hot Poker

How frequently you need to water Red Hot Poker will depend on how old the plant is, the soil quality of your garden, and other factors like the presence of moisture-retaining mulch. When recently planted, water Red Hot Poker a few times a week, providing enough water so that it sinks about 5-6 inches into the soil. Deep waterings like this will help the plant grow deeper roots, aiding in its drought tolerance in the future. 

After the first year in your garden, Red Hot Poker is likely to be considered established and therefore more drought tolerant. In milder climates, you may not have to provide water on top of rain. In the hottest part of the summer, however, giving Red Hot Poker a deep watering once a week is beneficial. Too much drought may lead to fewer, less vigorous blooms. 

Red Hot Poker needs to be planted in well-draining soil. If care is not taken to amend the soil, it is possible to overwater Red Hot Poker. 

When planted in pots or planters, Red Hot Poker will need water more frequently than it would in a garden bed. For this reason, it is important to regularly check the moisture level of your potting soil. Allowing pots and planters to dry out completely can lead to stunted flower growth and even plant death. In addition, because Red Hot Poker is a fast-growing perennial, its water needs in a pot may change as the year progresses.

Allow the top few inches to dry out before watering deeply, until water comes out the bottom of the pot. Always plant Red Hot Poker into well-draining, high quality potting soil and in pots with adequate drainage.  


Best Time To Water Red Hot Poker

The best time of day to water perennials is in the early morning when the sun is less intense. If plants are wilting by the end of the day, you may need to increase how much water you are giving them. With perennials, infrequent deep waterings will encourage strong, deep roots to grow, rather than spindly surface-level roots. In the heat of the summer, you may need to increase the frequency of your waterings.

As the weather cools and nighttime temperature drops, you may be able to forgo watering established perennials altogether. In colder climates, many perennials, including Red Hot Poker, go dormant in the winter and do not need to be watered. In warmer climates, occasional watering may help Red Hot Poker continue to grow through the winter. 

How to Water Red Hot Poker

Step 1 - Feel the moisture level of soil

Using your finger or soil probe, feel the soil around the base of Red Hot Poker. Because this plant can tolerate a period of drought, you will not need to water if the soil is cool and damp. If the soil is cracking and hard or dry at least 5 inches down, Red Hot Poker will benefit from water.

Step 2 - Water deeply

For Red Hot Poker to become more drought tolerant, allow the top few inches to dry out completely, then water deeply until water sinks 5-6 inches into the soil. This may take about 1 minute per plant. 

Step 3 - Allow soil to dry out slightly before watering again

For newly planted Red Hot Poker, you can still allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. In established, more drought-tolerant plants, they may be able to go a week without additional water. If you are located in a hot, dry climate, regular weekly watering will allow Red Hot Poker to continue to grow and bloom. Red Hot Poker in milder, rainier climates may not need much additional water, if any. 

Red Hot Poker Watering Tips

  • Plant in well-draining soil.
  • Allow soil to dry slightly before watering for new plants.
  • Water about weekly for established plants, depending on climate.
  • Water deeply and infrequently for deep root growth.

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 Author Lynn Gusman - Published 9-21-2023