Monday, January 21, 2013


Kniphofias bring colour and drama to the garden and have a special style with their sensational flowers and foliage. Although not native themselves, native birds like honeyeaters love them.

The genus Kniphopia was named after Johannes Kniphof, the professor of medicine at Erfot University in Germany in the 18th century. Like many doctors of this time, he was also interested in botany and wrote a 10 volume book called Botanica in Originale containing plant illustrations created by inking plants. This was the first instance of nature printing to be used in nature publication.

There are about 70 species of kniphofia in the wild, most of which are native to southern and eastern Africa, but there is one species from Yemen and one from Madagascar. In their native environment they tend to grow in boggy, wet environments, some even growing in creek lines. However, in the garden they will tolerate a range of conditions and need little supplementary watering except in summer to promote increased flowering. In the wild, the different species are usually separated geographically, making hybrids rare. However, in the garden they hybridise readily and it is possible for people to collect the seed from their own gardens, grow it and look for new hybrids. After flowering, green seed capsules are produced and when they dry, the black seeds can be collected.

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