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Christmas Cheer Red Hot Poker

Kniphofia 'Christmas Cheer'

Kniphofia ‘Christmas Cheer’ in December 2012. Photo: SK Reid.
Kniphofia ‘Christmas Cheer’ in December 2012. Photo: SK Reid.


Although this large poker plant’s average overall appearance ratings for the year are barely average, it was actually outstanding at the height of its bloom in December, making it true to its name. Irrigation levels seemed to have little effect on the quality ratings or the growth, except that the 20% ET0 treatment put on relatively less growth than the 40% treatment, though not significantly less than the two highest treatments.  Overall, only the three highest treatments put on size between October 2012 and October 2013.  For this reason, the lowest level of irrigation is not recommended, as plant decline may ensue in subsequent years in hot inland areas.  The 80% and 60% irrigation rates also had early fall flowering before the trials ended, while the two lower rates did not.

In the demonstration gardens where it was evaluated, the winter blooming was an asset for its striking color and form and its provision of off-season nectar for hummingbirds and insects.  This is also a plant that improves with age and hard pruning in early spring, and its ratings would likely have improved with an additional year of evaluations.  Drawbacks include the need to spend time cleaning up the dead leaves each year, and throughout the year, if a pristine appearance is desired.  All counties that grew it recommended it except inland San Diego where it had problems with mealy bug, and Shasta where it took a long time to recover from being cut back after blooming.

Basic Info

Submitted by: UC Davis Arboretum
Trial Exposure: Sun
Year evaluated: 2013
Height & Width
(after 2 years):
26" x 53" - UC Davis
Reported Height & Width
(at maturity):
3-4' x 1-2'
WUCOLS plant type: P A
Water Needs & WUCOLS Region:
Medium - Region 2 
Mean Overall 
Appearance rating:
(1-5 Scale, 5 is highest)
3.3 - UC Davis 
Flowering Months
October-January, March - UC Davis

Growth and Quality Data

Click Here for Complete Data Set