That is the burning question posed by my annoyingly late-blooming kniphofia rooperi, commonly known as red hot poker or torch lily. This obnoxious tease of a plant sucked me in at a summer Plant Delights Open House about 5 years ago. It wasn't flowering, but I knew it had flamboyant orange and yellow blooms in early fall, and thought it would look fantastic with my swamp sunflowers. Into the garden it went.
That was July. September came, but no buds. October came. The swamp sunflowers were in their glory, but still no buds. Finally, at Thanksgiving, an army of buds appeared. They were a day late and a dollar short - the sunflowers were long gone and the garden was in winter mode - but I figured the plant was just settling in to its new home and would bloom at the proper time next year. Not surprisingly, a few days later the temperatures dropped and the buds bit the dust.
It's Thanksgiving time again, and my kniphofia rooperi is up to its usual tricks. It slept through the swamp sunflower-fest in October, but last Thursday, right on cue, it was loaded with buds. Also right on cue, night-time temperatures are now consistently below freezing. Yesterday, for the second time in a week, the low was in the 20s. Everything withered - except, miraculously, the kniphofia buds. Can they hang on long enough to bloom? Could they possibly have developed cold-hardiness? Is that scientifically possible? Time will tell.
If not, I suppose I can give it to someone in Florida.