The yellow torch lily Minister Verschuur, Kniphofia uvaria, is a cultivar of red hot poker, beloved for the Dr. Seuss-like flowers that shoot up from an unruly mass of leaves each spring. Kniphofia Minister Verschuur is softer than the original red hot poker, and perhaps better for it. Some of the drama may be lost, but Kniphofia uvaria’s ‘look at me’ nature is scaled back.
Yellow torch lily Minister Verschuur: a softer version of red hot poker
Minister Verschuur is named after Timotheus Josephus Verschuur, a Dutch politician who died in 1945 in German captivity.
Frankly, you need a bit of a carefree nature to grow Kniphofia in your garden.
They are zany plants. I do not imagine many solemn gardeners grow Kniphofia. The new cultivars, including Minister Verschuur, rebloom if conscientiously deadheaded. In addition, be aware that Kniphofia may not reach its full potential for a season or two. I have seen young plants only reach 18″ or so the first or second season…give red hot poker time to reach its full height.
Leaves are a couple of feet long, but the flower stems rise above the plant to a total height of four feet or so. The flowers in the yellow cultivars of Kniphofia tend to have a lemon (cool yellow) tone when young but mature to warmer golden-yellow or apricot. This is definitely the case with Minister Verschuur. It is slightly unusual to have both cool and warm tones on the same plant, but the effect is not jarring.
Growing Yellow Torch Lily
It likes sun and lots of it. Originating in southern Africa, Kniphofia is a bulb. It is highly drought tolerant and a good choice for xeric gardens. Red hot poker is normally hardy zones 5-9, but indications are that some of the yellow cultivars are only hardy to zone 7. Protect the crowns of all Kniphofia cultivars in winter in zones 5 and 6.
As with most perennials, Kniphofia needs well-drained soil. Rich and well-composted is a definite plus.
The Kniphofia cultivar photographed for this post is Minister Verschuur, but there are a ton of new red hot poker cultivars available. Selected varieties include Sunningdale Yellow, Malibu Yellow, and the relatively new Lemon Popsicle.
Looking at plant patents is always illuminating. Here is the patent for Kniphofia Lemon Popsicle. As with most plant patents, the improvements include longer flower season, more compact growth, increased vigor. Thankfully, the breeder did not claim improved disease resistance, as Kniphofia owners can garden free of concern about insects and disease.