How to grow protea?

For as long as humans have grown flowers for pleasure they have been drawn to the exotic and the unusual. As a gardener I support the indigenous gardening movement for environmental reasons, but I am not a fundamentalist (I would hate to lose my Asian lilies and roses). As long as exotic plants are not regionally invasive, they can be beautiful additions to our growing lives. South Africa has an intensely rich botanical heritage, and many of the ornamental plants that grace international gardens have South African roots. Here is a collection of stunners that can be grown as annuals or perennials (depending on your climate) in the US:

Photography by Marie Viljoen.

Protea

Above: For information on how to purchase proteas, see California Protea Society.

On a flower hike on Table Mountain, proteas proliferate, from the imposing king protea to species of Leucaspermum (pincushions) that look like intricate wirework. For foreign visitors who have only seen these prehistoric-looking blooms as cut flowers, walking here is a thrill. Protea plants are becoming available stateside and can be grown where winters are moist and summers dry (hello, California!). Sustained freezes will kill the plants. The woody shrubs prefer lean, slightly acidic soil. Do not fertilize them and do not grow them in bed with other plants that require feeding. Full sun and superb drainage are essential. The cut blooms will last for weeks in water.

Agapanthus

Above: For a variety of Agapanthus rhizomes ($18 apiece), see Plant Delights.

Another beauty from the mountains of the Western Cape is the gorgeous agapanthus (also called Nile lily). Cultivars come in the full range of blues, from baby to violet to near-black, as well as in blue-and-white combinations. Their tall stems look wonderful massed in a border or used as accent plants in small gardens. They work well in pots. Some sources cite USDA Zone 6 as the lower limit of their range but I am skeptical and suggest Zone 8 (with plenty of mulch to cover them in winter); their rhizomes do not appreciate real freezing. If in pots in colder areas move them into a cold cellar or garage in fall.

Clivia

Above: Grown in prolific sweeps in their South African homeland, clivias are better known as houseplants in many parts of the States. I know of two plants that are 16 years and older (mother and child) in a south-facing but shaded Brooklyn parlor window where they bloom up to three times a year. This is one plant that likes to be squeezed and rootbound, but it hates wet feet. Dry is better. Use a slow-release fertilizer when potting them, and keep the plants in indirect but bright light. Provoke a period of dormancy by moving the pots to a cool room for eight weeks in late fall; do not water then unless you notice the leaves wilting. Move them back after their rest and begin weekly watering, for spring flowering. In-ground, plant clivias in USDA Zones 9 and higher, in dappled shade.

Plectranthus

Above: Plectranthus are a spectacular alternative to the usual suspects (mums mums mums) when you want flowers in autumn. ‘Mona Lavender’ is the best known—bred at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden in Cape, and plants are now available as annuals to plant in summer and to mature around late September, blooming through October in chilly climates. The flower spikes are striking when massed and last well as cut flowers, too. In USDA Zones 10 and higher plectranthus can be grown as perennials with species ranging from ground covers to shrubs. Plectranthus root very easily from cuttings.

Growing Proteas in Europe and the Temperate North

The following account was written in 1809 when the growing of proteas in temperate Europe was the rage. Since the advent of steam heat, proteas have not seriously been grown as a hobby in northern temperate climes. However, Joseph Knight’s advice is still applicable today. So if you want to grow proteas, read on for the basics in keeping your plants healthy. J. Knight (1781-1855) was a British gardener and nurseryman who managed Hilbert’s magnificent gardens in Clapham.

From “ON THE CULTIVATION OF THE PLANTS BELONGING TO THE NATURAL ORDER OF PROTEEÆ” by Joseph Knight, 1809

Introduction

The genus of Protea, as it is left in the work of that indefatigable traveller, Professor Thunberg, contains 60 species, 25 of which he himself discovered, and all which he probably saw growing wild at the Cape of Good Hope : these he described after his return to Europe, from dried specimens, but it must be confessed very imperfectly ; nevertheless his specific differences have been copied, almost word for word, by Professor Willdenow. In the Chelsea garden, still containing many venerable relics of Philip Miller’s labours, only 3 species had been cultivated previous to the year 1770, about which time several were raised in his Majesty’s garden at Kew, from seeds collected by the late Francis Masson; and a still greater number both of known and unknown species, have since been collected by Mr. James Niven, many of which have at length flowered in this country, and no where more luxuriantly, than in the collection of my late master. George Hilbert, Esq. at Clapham, by whose liberality most of them are now in my possession.

Besides these treasures, our gardens have been enriched with various plants allied to them from New Holland, which being often singular in their foliage, are sought for with avidity· by most collectors ; and their fructifications being now better understood from an examination of living specimens, it appears that they constitute many genera, some of which, as Dr. Sims observes, are already accurately defined, by the author of the Paradisus Londinensis. His names, with those of other scientific botanists, will therefore be adopted, in the following detail of the method of cultivating this tribe of plants, which succeeded so well at Clapham ; and I shall feel very proud, if from the hints now given, they are preserved longer, or rendered more plentiful among us.

As in all cases, it is the business of an intelligent gardener, to imitate nature, as far as may be practicable, the soil and particular situation, in which each species grows wild, has never been omitted, when it could be ascertained; many delighting in dry rocky places, while others will not thrive without richer and more loamy earth; some again require schist, and several a great portion of sand.

To avoid repetitions, the general method of treating the whole Natural Order is first given, any exceptions to this, or other necessary remarks, being inserted under the respective species to which they apply. In enumerating them moreover, anxious to find out distinctions that might be useful to an unlearned gardener, rather than to the Scientific botanist, their generic and specific characters have in no instance been drawn up, on the mere authority of preceding writers, or without examining the plants themselves ; neither are they arranged systematically, but according to the natural affinity, which in my humble opinion, they have to each other.

Soil

The Soil in which I have found at least two thirds of these plants succeed, is a light soapy loam, mixed with a greater or less proportion of sand. Chuse a spot that has never been pared or burnt, especially on higher ground not inundated in wet seasons; and in digging the earth, only take from 5 to 6 inches of the top, including the turf. Let this earth be laid in heaps, in some dry airy part of the premises, placing the turf downwards : in 6 months, (or if longer the better,) it will be fit for use. To prepare it for sowing seeds, or potting, it is necessary to pass it through a sieve ; that for seeds, and small young plants, should have meshes, or openings, about ¼th of an inch diameter ; but that for larger plants, may have openings ½ an inch diameter.

Pots

The pots in which vegetables ought to be cultivated, not even excepting some aquatics, should neither be baked very soft, nor very hard ; the former are of short duration, unsafe to carry about, and preserve valuable plants in, being so liable to break; the latter being less porous, often retain moisture, and exclude the air so completely, as to render a plant unhealthy, if not actually kill it. The roots of many species in this Order, delight to enter the veins and cracks of rocks, in search of moisture ; which may with little trouble be imitated at the time of potting, by placing among the earth, large pieces of broken pots, or sand-stone, free from Lichens and Mosses. These large broken pieces, besides the usual drainage, will also prove beneficial, in carrying off any superabundant moisture, from injudicious watering, or heavy and continued rains : nor will they be found less useful in very dry summers ; for these hard yet porous substances, retain a kindly moisture when covered with earth, a much longer time than the earth alone would ; consequently the small fibres which cling to them, receive nourishment in much the same way, that nature affords her liberal assistance, where they grow wild.

Old pots should never on any account be used, unless previously well washed and scrubbed with a brush inside and outside, after which they must remain till thoroughly dry ; for by use, their pores become so obstructed with Confervæ, and other minute vegetables, as to be very injurious to plants growing in them. It is also a point worth attending to, especially in extensive collections, to keep all pots not in use under cover ; for by being exposed to the open air, they are soon covered with millions of flying seeds of cryptogamous plants, which vegetate the instant, that the pots are moistened.

In the neighbourhood of London, garden pots are made of two shapes, and denominations, viz. upright and flats : they are sold in casts of the following numbers, 60, 48, 32, 24, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2, besides extra sizes: each cast is the same price, and of the cast 60, three sorts are made ; thumb 60s, small 60s, large 60s.

When you prepare a pot for use, first place a piece of hollow broken garden pot, with its concave side downwards, over the hole in the bottom ; I object to an Oyster shell, though ever so hollow, it being hard, and less porous than unglazed earthern ware. Then proceed to drain it more effectually, by filling it about a third part with smaller pieces of broken tiles or pots. In making these drainings, they should be shaken in a sieve, to take out all the smaller pieces, as well as dust ; and by using sieves of different meshes, two or three sorts of drainings suitable to different sized pots, will be obtained with little trouble : for they require to be effectually drained, even when planted in the smallest 60s. The coarse riddlings of the earth in which they are potted, may be used as drainings for very large plants; such refuse is also particularly proper for those species, that require more moisture than others, which the flagging of their leaves in hot sunshine always indicates.

Germination of seeds

For sowing seeds, the pots called flats are most suitable, of the casts 48 or 32. After draining these, fill them up to about an inch and a half below the top, with moderately fine sifted soil, upon which add about an inch of still finer sifted mould. Then make the surface quite even, with a piece of lath bent, which should be used like a Plasterer’s trowel. Observe carefully however to leave the earth as light as possible.

The best season for sowing seeds is from December to March, as they will then produce strong plants before the following winter; but it is by no means intended to say, that they will not succeed at other periods, and it is a common practice with most gardeners on the receipt of fresh seeds, to make trial with a few, whenever they arrive. If sown in the latter end of summer, or in autumn, the young plants will require a particularly favourable exposure, and dry shelf that receives all the rays of the sun during winter, otherwise they will too frequently become sickly, and damp off.

In this Natural Order, we find fruits and seeds, of very different sizes as well as shapes, but fortunately they are so similar in species of the same genus, that a gardener who is not learned in botany, after having seen one of each, may have a tolerable guess, at the genus of any new ones, he receives from abroad. In sowing them, much must be left to the discretion of the gardener ; generally they ought not to be buried deeper than half an inch in the earth, nor closer to each other, than from a quarter of an inch to an inch, according to their size ; taking special care to place them regularly near the edge of the pot, where the circle is largest ; for there if any where they will certainly succeed, not only often vegetating sooner, but thriving better after they do vegetate than in the middle, probably in consequence of air and moisture there percolating more freely. After the seeds are sown, water the earth gently through an exceedingly fine rose, so as not to disturb its equality of surface, and let it be given very sparingly at first, as hasty watering upon fresh sifted mould generally occasions the surface to cake, then place the pots level upon the stage of a green-house exposed to the full sun. r1t night, and in wet weather, cover them with strong brown paper, to prevent drops of water from the root making holes in the mould, which however should at all times be kept moderately moist : also, let all those sown between May, and September, be so shaded as to be quite in darkness from about 6 o’clock p. m. to the same hour a. m., for in long days of summer, too much light and heat prevents many seeds from sprouting kindly.

Some of those seeds which are covered with hard shells, such as Leucadendron argenteum and others, do not always vegetate the first year after sowing; on the contrary, an instance has been known of a bag of seeds furnishing a succession of young plants for many years, and it is hoped that the particulars of this curious circumstance, may be in some degree amusing. Nearly twenty years ago a respectable friend of mine, had the good fortune to obtain about a quart of the seeds of Protea Argentea (Leucadendron argenteum), which had been procured at Cape Town, by a trading Captain, to feed the turkies, on board his ship ; part of these were sown in two pots, and in order to forward the growth of the seeds, one pot was placed in a hotbed, with cucumbers, where it remained during summer, without the least signs of growth in the seeds ; the other pot was placed in a cool situation, where several plants made their appearance, and became tolerably strong by the autumn, when in transplanting the plants, the remaining seeds appeared fresh as when first sown, and on examining those sown in the hotbed, they proved the same, which gave cause to the whole being washed and carefully preserved until the following spring, when they were again sown and placed in a cool situation : more plants made their appearance during summer, but as the seeds did not all vegetate, they were again examined, and being found fresh, they were washed, and preserved as before : thus with a few additional ones, an annual sowing was continued, and a regular supply of young plants obtained, for many succeeding years ; and the experiment shews, that those hard shelled seeds may be preserved for many years, and should never be thrown away, without previously examining them with care ; but I think the whole family have a great dislike to be sown in artificial heat.

These seedling pots must have air admitted freely, when it is not frosty, more or less according to the external temperature of the atmosphere. In May; June, and July, after the plants appear, it will he necessary to shade them from the hottest rays of the sun during the middle of the day ; in very brilliant days, from 10 o’clock a. m. to 4 o’clock, p. m. ; but as the sun declines in height, and the plants gain strength, expose them fully, both to air and sun, at all times.

Planting out seedlings

I believe the best time to transplant the seedlings, is as soon as their cotyledons are fully grown, and the future stem beginning to elongate ; for they have then few or no fibres attached to the tap-root, nor have I ever found them checked by this early removal: it should unquestionably never be delayed later, than when they are from an inch to two inches high, potting them singly into small 60s, and taking great care, not to break any lateral fibres they have then made : this operation should also be performed in a close shed where the wind does not blow, watering; small parcels together through a fine rose as you proceed, and when all are finished, place them in such a frame as is used for Cucumbers and Mellons. Keep them rather close, as well as shaded with a thin mat when the sun shines, for a week or ten days, until they have struck fresh root, after which they must be gradually exposed to the open air.

Winter care

About the end of September or beginning of October, according to the mildness of the autumn, the plants should be cleaned and moved into their winter quarters, which, both for those transplanted, or any sown later remaining in seed pots, should be the most light and airy part of the greenhouse. Look them over every morning between 9 and l0 o’clock, watering such as stand in need : at this season it should be done, by pouring the water gently upon the earth near the edge of the pot, so as not to wet their stems and leaves more than can be avoided. Whenever dead leaves or branches appear, let them be removed, keeping the surface of the earth at all times free from Mosses, which are the most pernicious of all weeds to many of these plants, especially when they attach to the base of their stems.

Ventilation

Air is indispensably necessary for them at all ages : after they are housed in autumn, if the weather continue temperate, admit it both day and night, by keeping off the glasses entirely, or in large houses all the windows and doors open. When there is any, appearance of frost however, shut up the frames and houses, early or late in the afternoon, according to the degree of cold, opening them the following morning, as soon as the temperature rises to 36 degrees of Fahrenheit’s thermometer. In the depth of winter, when the frost is intense, cover the frames with mat, as well as the houses where it can be done conveniently ; and by the help of fireheat, keep the temperature within, as near as may be to 34 degrees of Fahrenheit, during the night. It should never be higher than this in frosty weather during the night, for though it is not adviseable to let the temperature sink lower, very few of these plants will be injured, by occasionally experiencing 32 degrees of cold at that season: as these plants in general in their native state are subject to great violence of winds, particularly those that are inhabitants of mountains, which may in general be known by their robust and tree like habit, they should all be placed, so that the wind can circulate freely, not only amongst the branches, but also round the stems and pots, which in my opinion is of the utmost consequence to preserve health in the plants; and by close attention, I have often fancied an improved appearance between morning and evening, after a full exposure to a brisk wind during the daytime.

In one of the largest and most healthy collections of Cape and New Holland plants in this country, exposed on a bleak hill, the temperature of the principal house, during the months of December, January, and February, was always suffered to sink to 32 derees of Fahrenheit during the night, if the external air was so cold ; yet none of the plants usually kept in green houses suffered by it, and the plan there pursued, for sixteen winters, was never to permit a plant to grow at all during that season, if it could be prevented; bringing them out in spring, as nearly as possible with the same foliage, which they had when housed in autumn.

Pruning and training

In training and pruning these plants, the knife must be used with caution; as they advance in stature, such as are weak or straggling, ought to have the principal stem neatly tied up to a stick, and when they are from two to three feet high, by cutting off the tender branches, they may be formed into narrow or spreading heads, according to the taste or caprice of the owner. At Clapham, they were generally left to assume their natural direction and form; only removing any very luxuriant branches, when ill placed, before they became old and woody. Nothing injures these plants more than crowding them close together ; and I cannot avoid the hazard of giving offence to some of my best friends, by saying, that in many collections about London, both large and small, the wisest thing the owners could do, would be to order a third part of their plants, to be cut into faggots, for lighting the fire, of the greenhouse, in frosty weather.

Watering

A large portion of water is necessary for most of these plants in dry seasons; and it should if possible be such, as has been exposed to the sun and air, several days. In the excessively hot weeks of summer, give it them every evening about sunset, so as to soak the whole pot thoroughly, but in such weather, never apply it in the middle of the day, if it can be avoided ; for I have seen plants killed by watering them, when the earth and pot were in all probability, at that instant heated by the sun, to more than 100 degrees of Fahrenheit. If by accidental neglect of watering the preceding evening, any plant is discovered flagging so much in the middle of the day, as to risk the loss of its life, or foliage, the best method is to remove it into the shade for a few minutes, and then refresh it with water already warmed by the sun. In extremely hot and dry days, it conduces greatly to the health of most plants, after the general watering is finished, to sprinkle their whole foliage through a very fine rose, imitating the natural dew ; especially when the garden is situated in a very dry soil, or upon a hill ; for in such situations frequently no dew whatever falls, when there is a very heavy one near lakes, or in valleys : in the winter season, the sun having but little power, the plants will require a much less portion of water, but when necessary they should have sufficient to soak the earth thoroughly, which should be given to them in the early part of the day, and with great care not to wet the leaves and plants at that period of the year, more than can be avoided.

Repotting

The properest season for shifting these plants, into larger pots is from March to May. I prefer the end of the former month, as they will have begun to make fresh roots, by the time they are removed into the open air, suffering less from violent winds and heavy rains during summer. The precise time to be preferred indeed, is just when the buds begin to swell, which in nine tenths of the collection, will be, as above mentioned, from March to May : this operation ought to be performed annually, but not oftener, changing them into pots, only one size larger. Abstain generally from cutting or injuring the roots, only removing any dead parts or fibres ; and if a plant has not completely filled the pot with roots, replant it in a clean one of the same size, for nothing is more fatal to such as are not growing vigorously, than a very large pot.

Propagation by cuttings

Cuttings of most of these plants, push out roots easily, but some with more difficulty. To succeed with the latter, it is necessary to use pure sand, and to be provided with Bellglasses, which fit the pots intended to be used, exactly. It requires more skill to know, when and which part of a branch will soonest strike root, than almost any other part of their management, nor is it possible perhaps to lay down any other general rule, than that the branch should be well ripened: after that I believe, the sooner it is taken off the better. When the parent plant is dying at the root, or damping off near the bottom, which many of these plants are subject to, when least expected, the ends of its branches will frequently all succeed, as I have already experienced in Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendrum, and others. I can only account for this, from the state of rest and inactivity that the branches had been thrown into ; the descending sap imbibed by the leaves, being arrested, and overflowing in those parts of the stem yet living, so as to heal over the wound more rapidly, and form that callosity at the bottom of the cutting, from which the young fibres commonly first issue. The leaves of all cuttings should be taken off with a sharp knife as far as the cutting is meant to be planted in the sand, taking care not to bruise or tear the bark, and to cut the bottom perfectly even, just under the insertion of a lea£ Contrary to the practice in sowing seeds, I think it is of great importance to press the sand in the pot very firmly down upon the drainings. After marking the dimensions of the Bellglass upon the sand, then proceed to plant the cuttings with a small blunt dibble, just so deep, that its base may rest solid without the smallest hollow under it, finishing one at a time, by pressing the sand firmly round it. When all you intend to plant in one pot are finished, give a moderate watering, and as soon as the leaves of the cuttings are dry, place the Bellglass firmly over them.

In general, cuttings of Proteas have not succeeded; but, after repeated experiments, I am of opinion, that the failure has been occasioned by stripping off, or shortening, the leaves : and I have found, that, if the leaves are only taken off from the part which is inserted in the earth, and those left uninjured which are above the surface, the chances are in favour of their striking root; while the contrary is the case, where the whole of the leaves are taken away, or shortened.

If cuttings are judiciously chosen, they will succeed in various situations ; such as are taken off in spring, will do well, in general, either in a warm part of the greenhouse, or in cucumber heat ; those taken off in summer, may be placed in frames, either with or without artificial heat, especially in close warm aspects, shading them with a thin mat, when the sun is powerful ; those cuttings taken off in autumn, or winter, should be placed on elevated shelves, in the hothouse. From time to time, as the Bellglasses become foul, wipe them clean, taking the opportunity to do this always when they are moved for watering, so as not to disturb the cuttings unnecessarily. If any die, or become mouldy, remove them instantly, for their contagion would spread rapidly.

In the time required for sending out roots, different species vary exceedingly : some are furnished with fibres in two or three months, while others, especially the hard-wooded species, require six, nine, or twelve months, nay from this period, even to two years : but, whenever the fibres begin to issue, it will be visible in the cheerfulness, and deep verdure of the leaves, or by their buds swelling; and as soon as a fresh shoot pushes, the Bellglass must be raised by degrees, and at length entirely removed, hardening the cuttings to the full air ; after which they ought to be treated like seedlings.

Setting seed

Many species of this tribe of plants, ripened seeds at Clapham ; but I was careful to promote their impregnation, by repeatedly rubbing Pollen upon the Stigma, and exposing their flowers as much as possible to the sun, never suffering any wet to fall upon them at this period; nor have I any doubt that most of these plants, if not all, by attention on the gardener’s part at the critical time, when the stigma exudes its viscous liquid, may be made to ripen seeds with us. In the hermaphrodite genera of Paranomus, Protea, and Serruria, some species afford them annually without any care at all.

Diseases

With respect to their diseases, I have only observed one, but that is too often fatal. It commonly appears towards the end of summer; and in the autumn, mostly attacking the largest and healthiest plants. This gangrene, it I may use the term, always begins in that part of the stem near the root, and with close attention may be soon discovered, as the diseased part immediately changes colour. The only remedy I yet know, is to cut away all that is discoloured, not leaving the smallest unsound speck, and paring the wound quite smooth; then close it up with grafting clay, under which lay a sufficient quantity of dry wood or bone ashes to dry up the moisture of the wound, and then press the clay tight to prevent any water flowing towards the stem till a new bark is deposited over the wound. I am unable to assign any cause for this disorder, except it is the effect of hot sunshine immediately succeeding heavy thunder showers, at which time the bark may probably be scalded near the surface of the earth, which is the place the disorder generally first appears in, and which makes rapid progress.

Taxonomy

In dividing the Natural Order of Proteeæ, into genera, those who are more learned than myself, think that the Inflorescence is of primary consequence. Tournefort, Boerhaave, and most botanists who lived before Linne, had no scruples in employing it : but, though the last named immortal naturalist made a law, always to exclude inflorescence from generic characters, he was nevertheless often forced to admit it himself ; and this he managed with great cunning, by calling the Umbel, Catkin, Spathe, &c. of vegetables, which are only different sorts of Inflorescence, a Calyx. Among modern writers, I believe that Mr. R. A. Salisbury first dared publicly to dissent from the abovementioned canon of Linne, asserting not merely the utility but absolute necessity, of employing the Inflorescence in many Natural Orders; and it must be confessed that such generic distinctions are peculiarly useful to working gardeners, being always obvious if a plant flowers at all, as well as intelligible to the poorest capacity : in this point, accordingly, he has at length been followed by other eminent botanists. Next to the Inflorescence, the various modifications of the Fruit, and Seeds, as they are in many species unphilosophically denominated, seem to afford the best generic distinctions, in Proteeæ. As for their habit, no certain guess at the genus of an unknown species can be deduced from it; for this sometimes differs amazingly, not only in the same genus, but in individuals of the same species, and several are found with leaves of very different shapes, growing at the same time upon one branch.

Back Growing Proteas

What type of plants are you looking for?

Full Sun and Reasonable Drainage

To grow proteas you need full sun and reasonable drainage. If you have clay soil, plant on a slope or a raised bed and add gypsum.

Slightly Acidic Soils

Slightly acidic soils suit all the species but we have found many of our plants tolerate some alkalinity.

No Additives Needed

When planting, simply plant level with the surrounding ground. No additives are needed. Water well.

Good Drinks Once a Week

Proteas, just like most Australian natives, prefer a good drink once a week during dry periods and warmer months, rather than little and often.

Careful with Fertliser

Be careful with fertilisers, some can be quite harmful, however in Spring you can safely apply a slow-release, low-phosphorous fertiliser (suitable for native plants).

Pruning Flowers

Cutting flowers is pruning the bush. Leucadendrons can be cut throughout the year and in Spring prune the remaining stems to maintain a compact bush. (As a rough guide leave behind about a third of each stem).

Potting Mix and Fertiliser

Any of our plants can be grown in pots. Use potting mix for natives and slow-release fertiliser for natives in Spring. When potting up, go up to the next pot size.

A guide to growing proteas

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Last updated on 13 May 2019

Proteas have a reputation for being tricky to grow, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, they’ll thrive in your garden.

The secret to growing proteas in a garden is to mimic their natural growing conditions. Most species originate from the winter-rainfall areas of South Africa and grow in very well-drained, nutrient-poor, acidic soil.

As can be expected from their natural coastal and mountainous habitats, they are used to lots of air flowing around them and plenty of sun. They are ideally suited to low-maintenance and water-wise gardens, and are a magnet for nectar-loving birds.

READ MORE: How to attract garden birds

Their roots are very susceptible to fungal attack so it’s important not to disturb them. When planting, remove the shrub from its container, with as little interference as possible to its roots. Once they’re in the ground, place a thick layer of mulch over the soil’s surface. Not only will this help retain moisture and keep the soil cool, it’ll suppress and reduce the need for weeding, which agitates the ground.

Related to growing proteas: Winter gardening guide

The common sugar bush (Protea caffra) is the most widely distributed protea in South Africa. Until recently, all attempts at growing it commercially proved impossible, but fortunately they’re now available at select nurseries in Gauteng.

READ MORE: Succulents: Growing crassulas

Proteas don’t do well in clay soil. If your soil has a high clay content, try growing them in containers. Some varieties make excellent container plants. Choose large pots and use a good quality, bark-type potting soil and mix a teaspoon of Fyngrow in the soil in the bottom of the pot. Place it in a well-ventilated, sunny position and remember to water well until the shrub is established.

QUICK TIPS

POSITION: Full sun.

PLANT: Year round.

WATER: Moderate.

SIZE: 1–5m high.

FROST TOLERANCE: Most are hardy to -4°C, some varieties to -9°C.

CAUTION: Good drainage is essential.

GROWING PROTEAS

  • Plant in a sunny position where the air circulates freely around the plant – they love windy areas.
  • They thrive in sandy, acidic, well-drained and rocky soils.
  • Plant in a hole twice the size of the container the plant came in.
  • Water deeply once a week for the first two years after planting. Once established, they are drought tolerant.
  • Apply coarse mulch such as bark or wood chips over the roots. This prevents weed growth, keeps the soil cool and provides gradual fertilising. Pine bark and pine needles will also help to acidify the soil.
  • It’s generally not necessary to fertilise proteas as they grow naturally in very nutrient-poor soils. Organic fertilisers such as Seagro, Bio Ganic All Purpose and Bio Ocean can be used, if necessary.
  • Never disturb the soil around the roots.
  • If they show signs of yellowing, apply Wonder Ferrofood granules or any other iron chelate product once, using the lowest recommended dose.

PRUNING

Pruning proteas improves the quality and quantity of flowers, helps reduce disease, extends the life of the plant and creates bushier, more compact plants. Young plants should be tip pruned after the first six months to a year after planting, generally in spring to late summer. They can be pruned again after the first flowering by cutting the flower stem 10cm above where it branches out from the main stem.

RELATED TO PRUNING PROTEAS: Step-by-step rose pruning guide

Cut out any weak and damaged stems. This encourages the remaining stems to produce healthier, more vigorous growth. Never remove more than 50 percent of the plant’s leaves and leave about 15cm of healthy leafy stem on which new shoots can develop.

For more on growing and maintaining proteas, visit sanbi.org

Sources:

For more information and to buy proteas, try the following:
Arnelia arnelia.co.za Nico Thuynsma madibri.co.za and SANBI PlantZAfrica
pza.sanbi.org

For P. caffra: Random Harvest Nursery randomharvest.co.za and Kilnerpark Nursery kilnerparkkwekery.co.za

How to grow Protea Seeds

Choosing the right time to plant protea seeds

The best time to sow is in autumn or spring, when the difference between day and night temperatures is about 12oC (54oF). Choose the season that gives the protea seedlings the most time to grow under favourable conditions. For example, if your summer is very hot and dry, but your winter is moderate and wet – sowing in autumn will give the protea seedlings a whole winter and spring to become strong before the harsh summer. In colder climates, it is best to sow in spring so that protea plants can become hardy before the frosts of winter.

Preparing the Soil for protea seeds

Although you can sow protea seeds in seed trays or open ground, we have best results planting each protea seed in a 500 ml plastic seedling bag. Fill the bag with a well-drained acidic soil mixture with a pH of about 5.5. You can make the mixture out of :

  • 2 parts coarse river sand,
  • 2 parts peat or decomposed pine needles, and
  • 1 part vermiculite or perlite.

It is important that the soil mixture drains well. Water should run right through the filled tray, but the soil mixture should be such that it retains moisture and remains damp between waterings. The seeds and protea seedlings should never be allowed to dry out. The vermiculite helps retain moisture.

It helps if the soil mixture is sterilised, ridding the soil of fungus, eggs, larvae and pathogens that might harm the protea seeds or the seedlings. There are several ways to do this:

  • The simplest method is to drench your soil mixture with ”’boiling water”’ before planting the seeds. This is best done on a flat, hard surface and has the added benefit of leveling out the soil. The drainage of the seed tray should ensure that after about 15 minutes, the soil is evenly damp. If there are any soggy patches or water pooled on the top, then your drainage is not sufficient. The boiling water kills germinating weed seeds, insect larvae, snail and slug eggs and fungal spores.
  • Another ”’fungicidal solution”’ is Jeyes Fluid (which is saponified cresol containing a lot of phenol). You can use a dilution of 40ml to 10 liters of water to saturate your seed trays. You need to leave 2 weeks after this treatment, however, before planting your seeds, which is probably a delay you can do without. You can also use this solution on your open ground before transplanting you seedlings – but also leave 2 weeks between treatment and planting.
  • A more ”’organic method”’ to the above with similar results would be to use plants containing phenols together with blue soap (which supplies the saponin requirement). A solution of Thyme and Sage mixed with Blue soap in warm water gives you an excellent solution with which to sterilize your soil. Instead of the blue soap you could use the roots of Soapwort. You would chop the roots up, boil them in water and cover the solution for about an hour or more, then strain it and add it to the herbal mixture.

Preparing the Protea Seeds

Pre-sowing treatment of some Proteaceae’s seed increases their germination percentage considerably, and decreases the losses due to fungus infections.

Proteas, Restios and fynbos:

Dissolve one disk of Smoke Primer® in 50ml of water (at room temperature). Soak the seeds you want “smoke-primed” in the smoke-water solution for 24 hours. Then dip the seed into a solution of fungicide such as Thiram (use whatever your local nursery recommends for roses) before planting it. You can buy some Smoke Primer® from our online store.

Leucospermums, Paranomus and nut-seeded Leucadendrons:

Germination time can be decreased by soaking seeds in a 1:2 solution of hydrogen peroxide (available from pharmacies as ”Hydrogen peroxide 10 vols”) in water immediately before sowing.

Planting the Protea seeds

Plant the protea seed to a depth equal to its size and water well. Keep the seedling packets in semi-shade, and protect against mice, birds, squirrels and large insects (30% shade-cloth works well if you enclose the seedling packets completely in a frame covered in shadecloth so that creatures cannot reach the seed). Water with a fine rose spray and do not allow the seedling packets to dry out at any time.

Watering and Waiting

The quality of the water used for watering can have quite an influence on the success of your protea seed germination. Sometimes tap (”faucet”) or borehole water can be a problem and using rainwater can make a big difference to germination and later growth of your proteas. Having the pH of your water tested is a good idea. Also test for chlorine and other chemicals. Usually your local Department of Agriculture is a good place to go.

The Proteaceae are adversely affected by brackish or alkaline water and water with a high salt content. Some dam or lake water may also contain spores of the cinnamon fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi), which is deadly to proteas. This is usually the case if it drains from an area that naturally carries this soil-borne fungus.

Our home-made seed house

The protea seedlings are suspended off the ground on a wire mesh. They are protected from mice and insects by a 30% shade cloth on all sides (and underneath).

A micro-jet sprinkler system connected to a water-computer ensures that the protea seedlings get watered up to six times a day during germination. Once the protea plants are established, they get water less frequently.

Success – Protea seedlings sprouting

The germination period varies from 1 to 3 months, depending on the species.

The cotyledons appear first, then the true leaves. Once the true leaves appear, the seedlings can be exposed to full sunlight. We keep them in the seed house longer to protect them from insect pests, and expose them to full sun only when they get planted out during the next rainy season.

Planting Out

Take care to leave the protea roots undisturbed during planting out. If your garden soil is well-drained and acidic, and your climate frost-free, choose a sunny spot and plant the proteas out in square holes 500 mm deep. The young protea plants appreciate some well-matured compost mixed into the soil that you fill the hole with.

Proteaceae are well-adapted to windy conditions, and like to have free air circulation around them. Mulching with well-rotted compost or wood chips helps keep down the weeds, retain moisture, cool the pproteas’ roots and supply some nutrients.

If you need to keep the proteas in a pot, you must make up your own potting medium. This should be similar to the mixture you used for germinating the protea seeds, but needs more perlite or vermiculite to keep the soil well-drained and aerated and to stop it from getting compacted. Also, the protea plants will need more nutrients to survive in the pot, so increase the amount of peat or decomposed pine needles and add some well-matured compost. Ensure that the pot has enough drainage holes, and put a small layer of coarse material over them to keep them open and draining.

Feeding Proteaceae

Since the proteaceae are adapted to nutrient-poor conditions, chemical fertilizer or manure will burn their sensitive root system. Use an organic plant food such as a fish or seaweed emulsion. Occasionally, a small amount of Ammonium Sulphate sprinkled on the soil and well-watered helps keep the soil acidic and provides nitrogen to the plants. We have found a company that makes a protea fertilizer specially formulated for proteaceae. You can buy their fertilizer from our farm store now.

Fungus poses a serious threat to proteas, and causes sudden death in some species if it attacks the roots. To avoid exposing the plants to fungal infections, keep the plants dry when it is hot. This means water the plants only early in cool of the morning – never in the evening. Also, water the plants once (or twice when they are young) a week for an hour. Shorter, more frequent, watering encourages weak root systems and fungal infection.

Things To Avoid doing to your Protea seeds

DO NOT:

  • Allow the seedlings to dry out at any time during germination – during the initial growth of fine roots they are very vulnerable
  • Water germinating seedlings with a coarse spray – the droplets can disturb the soil around the seed and damage the fine roots
  • Germinate proteaceae in hot-houses, with bottom heat or under glass – the heat, moisture and still air encourages fungal infection and will kill the plants
  • Feed the plants with chemical fertilizer or manure – the plants have a very sensitive root system that evolved in the days when there were very few organic nutrients in the soil, and the roots are easily burned by phosphates
  • Dig or cultivate around the plants – proteas may die if their fine root system is disturbed

We provide this information in good faith and cannot be held liable for success or failure of your protea growing efforts. For more information and discussion with other protea growers, visit our fynbos discussion. For a photo-essay of growing protea seeds in an eggbox, have a look at our eggbox starter kit instructions.

Flower symbolism is interesting because it can give us an idea about the history of a certain flower. Flowers have been used as symbols for various things and their value is extraordinary for people.

They are not only beautiful decorative pieces for our gardens and back yards, they can also tell us so many interesting stories that we could never think of.

Flowers have been used as symbols for centuries. Ancient cultures used them to celebrate important events and ceremonies and their presence certainly added a lot to the importance of the ceremony. Flowers were there to help us express our deepest emotions for the ones who were dear to us and to symbolize sadness for the people we lost.

In today’s text we will look deeper into the symbolic meaning of the Protea flower and the meaning it hides. This unusual flower has definitely an interesting background, so if you are interested to find out more let’s go ahead and look deeper into it.

Meaning of the Protea Flower

Meaning of a flower is influenced largely by its historical background and the way people saw it in the past. Many stories and interesting symbolic meanings have been linked to meanings of flowers and they are something that has persevered until today.

Flower symbolism and meaning is interesting to us not only because of the historical value, but also because we should learn more about a flower if we want to gift it to someone important. You certainly don’t want to gift someone a flower which expresses something far away from the message you have been meaning to send.

  • Diversity
  • Courage
  • Daring
  • Transformation

Diversity – The Protea flower is certainly different and it stands out from the crowd. This unusual flower is attracting attention no matter how beautiful the other flowers next to it are. There is simply something beautiful and mysterious about its appearance and it is a perfect gift for someone equally unique.

Courage – Gifting someone the Protea flower is also a symbol of courage. This flower symbolizes overcoming obstacles and finding courage inside of you to make a difference in the world. This flower has a very strong message.

Daring – The appearance of the Protea flower is daring enough, so we don’t have to add anything else to this definition. Protea flowers are simply symbols of someone’s daring nature and boldness that simply shines through and can’t be denied by anyone.

Transformation – This meaning is linked to the blooming character of the Protea flower and it can be interpreted as a symbol of changing and becoming someone different and better.

Protea Flower – Etymological meaning

Protea flower belongs to the proteaceae family and this flower has a lot of different verities inside of its family. These varieties come in almost all shapes and sizes and colors. The name Protea comes from the Greek name Proteus. Proteus was Poseidon’s son who had the tendency to often change his shape and appearance in order to avoid detection.

The reason why this flower got such a name was exactly because it had a large number of different flowers inside of its family and the name seemed appropriate.

Protea Flower – Symbolism

The Proteus flower is mostly linked to two main legends or symbolical meanings. One of them comes from South Africa and the other one comes from Greece. In the first legend that comes from South Africa, the beautiful protea flower got its name because of its interesting peals. The flower petals reminded the South Africans of a crown, so decided to give this flower the name Protea.

This flower is also the national flower of South Africa. In ancient Greece, Poseidon’s (God of the Sea) son, Proteus, had the tendency to transform himself in order to avoid recognition. The Protea flower has many varieties of different flowers, which come in all shapes and sizes and this is the main reason why the Protea flower got its name associated with Proteus.

Protea Flower – Color meaning

Colors of the flower can add so much to the overall symbolic meaning of the flower. Colors are not only there to brighten up our world, they are also there to give a much greater symbolic meaning to the flower. They can perfectly compliment the general symbolic meaning of a flower or give it a completely different symbolism.

The Protea flower comes in several colors and they are:

White

  • The white Protea flower is a symbol of pure spirit, honesty and integrity. This beautiful flower is a great way to say someone you trust them completely and that their presence in your life is important.

Purple

  • The purple color Protea flower is a symbol of charm, grace, mystery and royalty. The purple Protea flower is a great gift for someone who is a perfect reflection of these traits.

Red

  • The red Protea flower is a symbol of passion and love for someone close to you. This gorgeous flower is a perfect change if you want to gift your loved one something different for Valentine’s Day.

Orange

  • Color orange is a symbol of happiness, joy and cheerfulness. This optimistic color goes perfectly with the peculiar appearance of the Protea flower and is a great gift for anyone you love.

Yellow

  • Yellow symbolizes trust, compassion and trust. The yellow Protea flower is a perfect gift for a friend and someone who earned your trust completely.

Green

  • The green Protea flower is a symbol of harmony and good fortune. This flower color is perfect gift for anyone and you can even place it inside your home to invite these good vibes.

Protea Flower – Botanical facts and characteristics

Protea species belong to the Proteaceae family originating in southern Africa or Australia. These are the shrubs of evergreen plants of large blooms.

The most beautiful species of this family belong to the genus Protea, which are the most famous royal Protea-Protea cyanides. It was named after the Greek god Proteus, and was proclaimed the national flower of southern Africa. It has particularly beautiful, large floral heads of red, pink, yellow or white, silvery glare. About 114 species of the genus Protea are known, whose name was first published by Carl von Linne in 1771.

These unusual plants are not easy to breed. The basic mistakes in breeding are irregular watering dynamics and excessive fertilization, especially phosphate fertilizers that can completely destroy the plant.

In the nature of the genus Protea, they grow in various habitats, from stony and moist meadows to sandy areas along the coast. They tolerate high temperature fluctuations, from 32 ° C to below zero. They survive under the snow. The natural soils on which they succeed, most of them acidic reactions, even in nature, we can find some in the soil pH of 8.0.

In cultivation we need to use a substrate for acidophilic plants. The soil should be evaporated to drain well but not dry up, to prevent water retention that damages the plant and leads to a disease of the roots.

The best time to sow is when the biggest difference is between day and night temperature, and this is most common in early spring. Temperature changes are important for improving the germination of the seed.

It is very important for the prevention of fungal infections. Seeds are placed in a water temperature of 50 ° C for half an hour. After that, the seeds spread out on paper and dried.

It is sown in the volume containers provided for one liter of substrate. The substrate is prepared from 2 parts of humus (acidic reactions eg earth for orchids or rhododendrons), 2 parts of natural sand and one part of perlite. Good drainage is important due to water deposition and the pH value should be 5.5.

Before planting, the substrate should be sprinkled with boiling water to prevent the development of pests and diseases. The seed is placed at the depth of its extent and is well watered. Place the vessel in a semi-advantageous location. The germination time is from three weeks to several months depending on the species.

When the first true leaves appear, the proteas should be moved to a lot of sunshine, while ensuring that the substrate in the sun never completely dries.

When the seedlings become strong enough, they can be planted in the garden in a sunny place, but not too hot. The holes are about half a meter deep and filled with compost. Plants should be carefully removed from the bowl and planted, as they have a very sensitive root. It is good to brush the soil around the plant for maintaining soil moisture, protection against excessive temperatures and weeds.

In nature, proteins grow in windy areas, so the plant in the garden should be placed in a breathable place. The soil should be maintained at the lowest point of humidity, but it must not be dried. This is accomplished by watering at greater intervals, with more water to penetrate the depth of the soil.

Protea is a modest plant and does not require a lot of nutrients. Care must be taken carefully, because concentrated fertilizers damage the root. It is best to use organic algae fertilizer or diluted guano-extract for the best use (half the concentration is written on the packaging). Of artificial fertilizers, it can be used for orchids or bromelia in the prescribed quantity and concentration.

In winter, the plants should be best placed in a light, cold and humid place (about 10 ° C), well ventilated due to the risk of infection by fungi and reduce watering. It is only when temperatures exceed 15 ° C. Some species can also be sown on the outside (not below -7 ° C) but need to be protected by conifer branches or agrotextile. Cutting oak flowers helps to create new floral buds.

Many species of the genus Protea based on the stem, above or below the soil, have a special thickening that enables plants to survive and force new shoots if a fire occurs. This property is particularly striking with the species Protea roupelliae, which at the beginning of its growth is virtually silent due to the formation of thickening.

Most species do not tolerate cold and are difficult to breed. Despite this, many lovers of plants are glad to have in the garden because of its beautiful floral heads. Protea neriifolia – an ectopic Protea of ​​pink, red and yellow flowers is usually a cultivated species, as it should be more flexible.

Royal Protea cynaroides from import, are used for expensive arrangements like dry or cut flowers (in the vase long looks fresh) and very decorative.

Protea Flower – Secret message

Flowers have been used as symbols for centuries. Ancient cultures used them to celebrate important events and ceremonies and their presence certainly added a lot to the importance of the ceremony. Just like every flower has its own symbolic meaning and importance, it also hides a message just for us, that we need to implement on our lives. The message behind the Protea flower is to always be courageous and to never dim down your uniqueness. We are beautiful in our own way, so we need to cherish this beauty and make it stand out.

The beautiful Protea flowers are great representations of how different can be beautiful and desirable. We should live according to this message and make sure we never cut ourselves short for the things that belong to us.

Browse

Protea

Protea is the name of a genus of flowering plants. Protea is the botanical name as well as the English name of the genus. Proteas first captured the attention of botanists during the Europeans’ exploration of South Africa in the 17th Century. Protea belongs to the larger family of Proteaceae that is supposed to have existed in the ancient landmass of Gondwanaland.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Plantae Class Angiospermae Order Proteales Family Proteaceae Genus Protea

Facts about Protea

  • Although there are members of the family proteacea in both South Africa and Australia, there is no particular genus that is seen in both the regions.
  • In the United States, they are commercially grown in San Diego and Santa Barbara in California and Hawaii.
  • This genus was named by Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, in 1735. It was named after Proteus, a Greek god.
  • Beautiful flower arrangements can be made using protea.

How to grow Protea

The ideal time

The ideal time to plant protea seeds is in fall or spring because that is the time of the year in which the difference between the day and night temperatures is about 12 degrees Celsius.

Make the soil ready for protea

For best results, plant the seeds in a plastic seedling bag which is filled with slightly acidic soil mixture (pH=5.5). The mixture made by combining river sand, decomposed pine needles, and perlite in the ratio 2:2:1. Use boiling water and a fungicidal solution (Jeyes fluid) to destroy the fungus, eggs, and larvae that might be harmful for the seeds.

Prepare the seeds

The seeds should be treated with a smoke primer and a fungicide solution in order to make sure that the seeds germinate without getting destroyed by fungal infections.

Watering

Make sure that the water is not alkaline or salty. Also ensure that the water is fungus free. The time needed for germination varies between 1 and 3 months.

Planting out

When you take the plant out of the bag and plant it outside, see to it that the roots are not disturbed. Nurture the young plants with decomposed organic material (compost). Protective covering (mulching) with compost holds the weeds in check, preserves moisture, keeps the roots cool, and provides the plant with nutrients.

Feeding the plant

As far as possible, feed the plant with organic nutrients. Give a small amount of ammonium sulphate at times to make sure that the soil remains acidic. Don’t water the plants in the evening in order to avoid fungal infections.

King Protea

Basic King Protea Flower Information

Common Names
King protea, giant protea, king sugarbush, honeypot

Scientific Name
Genus species Protea cynaroides
Family Proteaceae

History
The King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa. Proteas come in a variety of sizes and colors and are members of the Proteaceae family, a genus of 130 species of African shrubs. The flowers’ name, therefore, refers to the flower heads’ varied forms.

Protea Flower Meaning
Courage.

Astrological Flowers

Floral Design Qualities For King Proteas

Type Of Use: Flower

Form: Mass/ Form

Fragrance: Mild

Line: N/A

Silhouette: Dense /Pinwheel

Blossom Texture: Velvety

Ethylene Sensitive: No

Stem Size: 8″ – 18”

Blossom Size: 6″ – 10”

Vase Life: 2 weeks or more.

Special Prep: Use flower food solutions to help prevent leaf-blackening.

King Protea Design Uses
Protea’s size and texture provide unique visual interest in contemporary design.

King Protea Flower Colors
Yellows, white, orange, peach and creams.

Blooming Seasons
Fall, winter.

General Flower Availability
Year Round, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Wedding Flower Availability
Year Round, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

All about proteas

Despite appearances, proteas are not Australian native plants – but they could have been and there in lies a fascinating story stretching back billions of years, to a time when Australia was part of a super continent we call Gondwana. Also part of Gondwana was Africa and it’s on this continent that proteas – and their close relatives leucadendrons and leucospermum – developed their huge diversity of shapes, forms and colours.

Australia split from the Gondwana land mass and over time produced another branch of the protea family. Australian members include waratah, banksia, grevillea, hakea and macadamia.

Across the ocean in what’s now South America are found other members of the protea family (also called Proteaceae). It’s hypothesised that all these different plants arose from a common protea-like ancestor.

Growing tips

Like their Australian relatives, proteas, leucadendrons and leucospermums need extremely well-draining soil and resent high phosphorus fertilisers. They do best in slightly acidic to neutral soil or potting mix.

Select a sunny garden position with well-draining soil. If the soil isn’t well-draining, create a raised bed for better drainage or grow a compact variety in a large container.

All do best in areas with winter rain and dry summers and are good coastal plants. Where summers are humid, select a sunny open spot that offers good air circulation. This helps avoid fungal problems, which can appear as leaf spotting or dieback.

Proteas and their relatives grow well with little added fertiliser, but can be fed in spring with a low phosphorus native plant food. They are water wise and low maintenance when established. Although they need little care, pruning spent flowers encourages a compact plant with lots of new growth and abundant flowers in the future.

Watering

Established plants need little watering unless times are dry, however new plantings should be watered regularly until they are established. Take care to water proteas adequately during their first summer in the garden. A good regime for established proteas is a weekly watering when there is no regular rainfall. Containerised plants should be checked daily and watered when dry.

Lots of choice

There are many protea species and varieties. Most proteas grown in our gardens are evergreen and frost tolerant. Most named varieties form small to medium-sized shrubs around 1.5 to 2 metres high. All can be kept compact with regular pruning.

While protea flowers offer lots of diversity, they share a similar structure of stiff, colourful outer bracts surrounding a central, banksia-like cluster of styles (style in botany refers to a part of the female reproductive organ of flowering plants). Most protea blooms have a conical shape.

Proteas flower from autumn to spring with many offering a peak of blooms in winter. Whether left on the bush or picked, protea flowers are long lasting and eye catching. They are also bird and insect attracting plants.

In the garden

Grow proteas and their relatives as feature plants or as part of a mixed shrubbery. In the garden they team well with closely related Australian natives such as banksias, or with other South African plants such as agapanthus, red hot pokers and osteospermum daisies.

Leucadendrons and leucospermum

While not producing such the blooms of the proteas, leucadendrons and leucospermum enliven winter gardens. These evergreen shrubs are good planting companions for proteas and Australian native plants.

Leucadendrons have stiff green to grey-green leaves, many with brightly-coloured new growth surrounding small, neat flowers. It is the long-lasting coloured foliage that adds to their garden value.

Leucadendrons can be grown as a hedge or screening plant or as a feature shrub. For a low-maintenance planting, select several different named varieties to give a display of colourful foliage contrasts.

Leucospermums are grown for their round and colourful pincushion-shaped flowers made up of a cushion of coloured styles, much like a grevillea or hakea flower. Flower colours range from bright red, yellow and orange to more pastel apricot or golden tones.

Leucadendrons, leucospermums and serrurias (commonly called blushing bride) need the same care and growing conditions as proteas.

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