Protea Plant Care: Tips On Growing Protea Plants
By: Liz Baessler
Protea plants are not for beginners and not for every climate. Native to South Africa and Australia, they require heat, sun and extremely well-drained soil. If you’d like a little bit of a challenge, though, protea flowers are beautiful and very unique. They are also perfect for that rocky, hard-to-use part of your garden. Keep reading to learn more about protea care and information.
Tips on Growing Protea Plants
One of the first things necessary in growing protea is soil. Protea plants must have well-drained soil. Their roots grow mostly horizontally, just below the surface of the soil. If water is allowed to sit and pool on the surface, the roots will become waterlogged and the plant will die.
If you’re planting your protea outside, mix bark and grit into your soil to improve drainage. If you’re planting it in a pot, use a mixture of even parts peat, bark, grit, and styrofoam beads.
Water your established plants every two to three weeks. If your plants are just starting out, water them more frequently. Proteas can stand a range of temperatures, from 23 F. (-5 C.) to 100 F. (38 C.), though they may not survive long exposure beyond that.
Protea plants thrive in acidic, nutrient-poor soil. Avoid fertilizer; an abundance of phosphorus, in particular, will kill them. If you have a dry, acidic, rocky part of your garden that can’t seem to support life, you may find protea plant care fairly easy.
Protea flowers come in large clusters surrounded by bright, spiky bracts that make for a very unusual and striking appearance. The flowers can be easily dried for flower arrangements. Pick them at their peak, strip away the bottom leaves and hang them upside down in tightly bound clusters in a dark, breezy spot for two weeks. The flowers retain their color very well and are particularly popular in Christmas wreaths.
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Can you replant a Protea?
Smaller variety Proteas are ideal for container gardening It is possible to grow the smaller varieties of Proteas in containers using a coarse, well-drained native potting mix. Keep the plants in a sunny position with plenty of air circulation. Avoid over-fertilising or letting the container dry out.
Subsequently, question is, how do you grow Proteas? 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.
Correspondingly, how long does a protea take to grow?
Flowering time The Protea cynaroides flowers at different times of year, depending on local conditions. However, the plant needs to be about four to five years old (from seed) before it begins flowering.
Can you grow leucospermum from cuttings?
Leucospermum is easily grown from cuttings, but can also be propagated by root cuttings and grafting. In the case of seedlings, once the first true leaves have formed, transplanting to containers presents no special problems. All plants will require some care after transplanting.
SERIES 16 | Episode 31
Busy people often want to know what are good, low maintenance plants.
Well Proteas and Leucadendrons are wonderful and hardy. They're from South Africa. They're in the Proteaceae family, like Waratahs, Banksias, Hakeas and Grevilleas which are the Australian branch of the family.
There are many Proteas and Leucadendrons available - some are low growing and others form sizable screen plants, which are great as a hedge. For example, Protea compacta is a beautiful, dense growing plant. It flowers for many months from winter through to spring and provides colour just when the garden really needs it.
Protea 'Juliet' is another low growing Protea, and has an incredible flower. Instead of the petal arrangement of a normal flower, it has bracts, which are actually modified leaves. These bracts are arranged around a centre of tiny florets. The flower itself is an incredible floral arrangement.
The Protea 'King White' always creates comments with its white buds and tremendous large flowers - the biggest of all.
Leucadendron 'Corringle Gold' is another beautiful variety. Its golden foliage gleams in the sunshine. It has a rounded growth habit and would be great at the back of a shrubbery.
For a low hedge and a border in a garden bed it's hard to beat Leucadendron 'Devil's Blush', with its devilish deep red bracts. Another beauty to look out for with its elongated buds and deep red bracts is 'Red Baron'.
If you want flowers to make great bunches for a vase inside, especially over winter and spring, then try Protea 'Susara' - it's a magnificent shrub, growing to about 2 metres high.
Proteas love an open, sunny position. If grown in the shade, they don't have that vivid colour. They do well in poor soils, and they don't mind salty, coastal areas. But the humidity will knock them around. If you are north of Brisbane it will be difficult to grow a Protea. But they'll do really well anywhere else, as long as it's not too frosty.
It's critical that Proteas and Leucadendrons don't have wet feet, because sitting in soggy, wet ground will mean instant death. Plant them on a slope, or try planting them on a mound, about 30 centimetres high, so any water drains away.
When planting a Protea or Leucadendron tickle the roots, but not too much because they don't like root disturbance. Don't fertilise when planting, and don't use high phosphorus fertilisers. Add a good bucket of water at planting, but after that these plants are drought tolerant, so don't water them too much.
Mulching is important, but don't put it too close to the main stem because the plants are prone to collar rot. The mulch suppresses weed growth which is important because Proteas don't like it when weeds are pulled out near the surface roots.
When establishing a Protea or Leucadendron, pruning is a marvellous idea. Prune back to the new growth for a neat, compact bush. In about a year the plant will grow to about 2.5 metres high and 2 metres wide, with many colourful bracts all over the bush.
So if you thought you didn't have enough time to have magnificent flowering shrubs in your garden, think again, and think Proteas and Leucadendrons.
Cultivation of Protea Flowers
Because of their characteristics, proteas need to grow in an open space that is sunny for most of the day and that is also well-ventilated.
They also need acidic soil that has a lot of gravel and sand. They can either be propagated by their seeds or they can be cut off and then be reproduced separately.
They need to have a lot of space between one another as they tend to grow significantly.
In terms of their conservation needs, proteas are well adapted to naturally difficult climates and habitats, even though some of the species of this family are now at risk of extinction (4).
There are at least 360 South African species and around 120 of them are now classified as an endangered species.
Wild proteas also face another problem that is the continuous fires that have been going on non-stop for the last couple of months.
Protea Planting and Care
Protea appreciates relatively poor soil, but it must drain well a location where the roots can sink deeply into the soil and water is plentiful is ideal. In nature, proteas are frequently found in low-rainfall areas in gullies or valleys where they have access to underground moisture, reports Protea Seeds.
Plant each protea in a 2-foot-deep hole and add some well-matured compost. Fertilize the plants with an organic food such as fish or seaweed emulsion. Avoid chemical fertilizer, manure or a phosphorus-rich mix, which can burn their roots. Consider purchasing fertilizer designed for proteas, available from specialty nurseries or seed companies.
How do you dry Protea?
How to Dry Protea
- Remove all leaves from the stems of three or four Protea flowers.
- Hang the Protea upside down from a wire hanger, using twine or string threaded through the rubber band, around the stems and tied to the hanger.
- Place the flowers in a dark, dry location such as a closet or basement.
Additionally, how long will Proteas last in a vase? five to seven days
Just so, how do you preserve protea flowers?
Protea Care and Handling Information
- Unpack the flowers immediately.
- Cut up to 1/2 inch off the stems and remove leaves that will end up in the water.
- Store flowers in a floral cooler or refrigerator between 36-50 F.
- Removing a few leaves around the flower head will enhance the flower display.
- Use a commercial flower preservative for added longevity.
How do you dry native flowers?
Find a dark, dry area with good circulation, such as an attic or unused closet. With unflavored dental floss, secure the bottom of the flowers' stems to a hanger so that they hang upside down to dry. Leave flowers for two to three weeks until completely dry.
Himalayan PoppyNigel Hicks/Getty Images
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The allure of the Meconopsis betonicifolia is strong, aided by the fact that the flowers need very particular growing conditions in zones 5-7 and only bloom for about two weeks. The national flower of Bhutan grows best in areas that resemble its native habitat, with cool summers and moist soil.