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Red Hot Poker Lily – Kniphofia with dying stems – What’s the Cause

Ask the Expert: Why is my Lily (red hot) dying on the stems only?

The leaves on this plant look just fine, but, the stems are turning brown then just dropping down and are dead in the stem only….. What am I doing wrong?



Your Kniphofia (Ret Hot Poker) probably has Rhizoctonia (a soil borne fungus) or another kind of fungus. The spread of Rhizoctonia and other fungus is caused by poor watering practices. Water your Kniphofia in the morning if possible and you may need to cut back the water. You want to keep your plants moist but not soggy.

Remove all parts of the plant that are infected. You can trim the stems completely down to the ground. Between each cut, dip your pruner in a solution of bleach water to prevent the spread of the disease. Solution should be 1part bleach to 3 parts water. If the plants are in a container remove all the soil and re-pot in new soil after you have clean the container with bleach water.

You will need to treat your Kniphofia with a fungicide. I recommend a systemic fungicide with the active ingredient propiconazole. Fertilome liquid systemic fungicide is one I often use, but there are other brands that contain the same chemical. Your local garden center should carry a fungicide that will work for you.



  1. Trying to save a Red Hot Poker:

    Hi, I just found sprouting from my yard debris pile a sad, dry looking Red Hot Poker. It is probably not the best time to transplant a flower, but it is not going to get any better in my pile of debris. I dug it up and found that it had three separate, healthy looking roots. The leaves are all green with a bit of brown in them, but healthy looking otherwise. The flower coming out of one of the roots is dead, but the lower part of the stalk is still green. My question is, where should I trim the stalk to promote some new growth? Should I trim just below the brown on the stalk or should I trim the stalk off close the the root or just above the ground? An additional question, is there a way to trim the two roots that aren’t flowering to promote flower growth or just leave it and hope for the best? I read one forum where someone said they just let the flowers die off as they’re standing. I’d rather not do that if it will cause a delay in new growth.

    Thank you for any information you can give me on this topic.

  2. Joy,

    Trim the flower off as close to the base of the plant as possible. Leave all your roots intact since this will give the plant a better support system for nutrients. When you plant it water it thoroughly and then water as you normally would a healthy red hot poker. Wait about two weeks and then fertilize it with a well balance fertilizer. Use a small amount of fertilizer and preferably a slow release type. I think you will have good luck with this plant since it seems to be a survivor.