Bastón del emperador, Boca de Dragón [Torch ginger, Ginger Flower, Red Ginger Lily, Torch Lily, Wild Ginger] (Etlingera elatior, Phaeomeria magnifica)

12 Interesting Facts About Torch Lily

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The torch lily, also known as Kniphofia, is an eye-catching perennial plant known for its vibrant, torch-like flower spikes. Native to Africa, these hardy plants thrive in gardens around the world.

With its fiery colors and unique shape, the torch lily provides year-round interest in gardens and landscapes. This tough plant is easy to grow, resistant to pests, and requires little upkeep once established. Its exotic blooms have made the torch lily popular across continents.

Discover more about this extraordinary perennial below.

Here are 12 fascinating facts about this unique plant:

Interesting Facts About Torch Lily

1. The torch lily’s flowers look like bursts of flame

The torch lily’s flowers are tubular and densely packed into a torch-like shape that resembles flames bursting out. The fiery flower spikes shoot up from long stems, captivating passersby with their intense oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks.

2. Its colors can be striking and vibrant

Torch lily blooms exhibit a wide range of dazzling hues, from fiery reds, oranges, and yellows to softer pinks and creams. New cultivars in shades of lime green and rich burgundy are also available.

This variety allows gardeners to create vibrant displays by combining torch lilies of different colors.

3. The flowers last a long time

Once they emerge in summer, torch lily’s flowers persist for weeks or months. As lower flowers fade, new buds continue opening at the top of the stalk in succession.

Their long-lasting nature makes these carefree plants excellent for cut flowers as well.

4. They thrive with minimal care

Torch lilies are low-maintenance perennials that don’t require much work once established. They tolerate poor soil, bounce back after droughts, and have few pest or disease issues.

  • Torch lilies only need occasional watering and fertilizing.
  • They handle a variety of soils, as long as the ground drains well.
  • These tough plants withstand heat and drought.

5. The plants spread slowly

Mature torch lily plants grow in compact, upright clumps that expand slowly. Their non-aggressive spread makes them great for filling empty spots in flower beds and mixed borders.

Torch lilies won’t overwhelm their neighbors but will persist reliably for years.

6. They have an exotic history

These eye-catching perennials originated from the grasslands of Africa. Records indicate torch lilies grew in Egyptian gardens as early as 1700 BC.

  • Victorian gardeners later introduced these exotic plants to European and American gardens.
  • Today, torch lilies enhance gardens across temperate climates.

7. The foliage remains attractive after blooms fade

Torch lily leaves emerge with a soft green color in spring. Even after the fiery blooms disappear, the neat foliage provides texture and structure year-round.

The strap-shaped leaves bend gracefully, sweeping the ground around the base of the plant.

8. Bees and butterflies love them

These flowering perennials attract pollinators by offering abundant nectar as a reward. Butterflies and bees flock to the torch-like blooms.

  • Plant torch lilies near vegetable gardens and fruit trees to increase pollination.
  • Their bold colors can also help guide pollinators to the area.

9. The plants multiply by division

Mature torch lily clumps can be divided every few years, creating new plants.

  • Use a shovel to split dense clumps into smaller sections in spring or fall.
  • Replant the divisions to propagate more torch lilies or share with gardening friends.

10. They work well as accent plants

Torch lilies make excellent accent plants for gardens and borders. Their distinctive shapes and fiery colors provide eye-catching focal points.

  • Use them to draw attention to entryways, corners, or pathways.
  • Contrast torch lilies with cool blues, silvers, and whites for maximum impact.

11. Many varieties are available

Dozens of torch lily cultivars exist, offering diversity in size, color, and bloom shape. Choices range from petite, yellow-flowered plants under 2 feet tall to towering 6-foot varieties with intense red blooms.

  • Flamenco‘ has ruffled orange flowers on 4-foot stems.
  • Ice Queen‘ bears creamy white blooms blushed with green.
  • Safari Sunset‘ has a bold mix of sunset-colored flowers.

12. They make great cut flowers

Torch lily’s long-lasting, vibrant blooms make excellent cut flowers. Their unique shape adds drama to floral arrangements.

  • Cut stems once at least half the flowers have opened.
  • Place in a vase immediately, and torch lily stems will last over a week indoors.


With its vibrant colors, fiery blooms, and exotic pedigree, the torch lily provides an extraordinary addition to gardens across many climate zones. This low-maintenance plant thrives with minimal care but makes a vivid statement in borders and beds. Showy torch lily flowers persist beautifully as cut arrangements as well.

The next time you visit your local nursery, consider bringing home these fascinating perennials to light up your landscape with their torch-like blooms.

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