Let’s dive in and learn everything there is to know about Protea!
If you aren’t familiar, Protea is a genus of flowering plants native to Africa. They are known for their large, colourful flowers and are relatively easy to grow.
Facts about Protea
Did you know that this flower is South Africa’s national flower? This beautiful bloom has a long history dating back to ancient Greece, where it was associated with the god Proteus.
- They are named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his shape.
- It is South Africa’s national flower.
- The oldest protea fossil dates back to 300 million years ago.
- They are known for their long-lasting blooms. Some varieties can bloom for up to six months!
Characteristics of Protea Flowers
The flowers are large and showy, with various colours and shapes. They are long-lasting blooms, often lasting up to two weeks in a vase. The flowers are native to South Africa and have over 80 different species. They are named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his appearance. This is fitting, as protea flowers come in many forms.
Cultivation of Protea Flowers
The flowers are grown commercially for the cut flower industry and are also famous for landscaping.
The flower is indigenous to South Africa and occurs naturally in a wide range of climatic conditions from coastal to montane regions.
The different species have varying climatic requirements, but they generally prefer a climate with cool winters and hot, dry summers.
It grows best in well-drained, sandy soils. They are, however, adaptable to a range of soil types, provided the soil is not waterlogged.
They are generally light feeders, and they do not require a lot of fertilizer.
A light application of slow-release fertilizer is usually sufficient at the beginning of the growing season.
The flower is drought-tolerant plants, and they generally do not require a lot of watering.
They should, however, be watered regularly during the establishment phase.
It generally does not require pruning but can be lightly pruned after flowering to promote fuller growth.
Pruning them too severely, however, can damage the plants.
Mulching helps them to retain moisture in the soil and protect the roots from extreme temperatures.
A thick layer of mulch is also effective in suppressing weeds.
It makes excellent accent plants and can also be used to create informal hedges. They are also well suited to rockeries and native gardens.
The flowers make long-lasting cut flowers and can be dried for use in floral arrangements. This can be used for wreaths, bouquets, and centrepieces.
When selecting species for cultivation, it is essential to consider the climate and soil conditions of the area as well as the plant’s water and fertilizer requirements.
It is essential to check that the species you plan to grow is not on the endangered or protected species list.
Some Popular Types of Protea You Can Grow
These are the best selection of these plants you can grow in your garden. You’ll be able to discover its plant varieties, from the king protea to the sugarbushes.
You’ll see how protea plants are easy to grow and make long-lasting cut flowers.
Raspberry Frost (Banksia menziesii)
Raspberry Frost is a type that produces gorgeous, large flowers. The blooms are a deep pink colour with red highlights. They have a sweet fragrance and make excellent cut flowers.
This type grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s drought tolerant and can handle a light frost.
Red Gym (Leucadendron)
Red Gym is popular that is used in landscaping and cut flower arrangements. It produces beautiful red flowers that are cone-shaped.
It is suitable for use as an accent plant or in mass plantings. It varies in height from 2 to 4 feet and is drought-tolerant.
Rose Mink (Protea Laurifolia)
Rose Mink is a small type that grows to about 1 m in height with a woody stem. The leaves are dark green, oblong-shaped and have a reddish-brown tint. The flowers are cream-coloured with red or pink markings and appear from June to August.
It is used for both cut flowers and as an ornamental plant in gardens.
Special Pink Ice (Protea Neriifolia x Susannae)
Special Pink Ice don’t mind a minor crowding in the garden and is content to be planted quite close together. They like full sun, good drainage, and regular watering. They are heavy feeders, so add plenty of compost or other organic matter to the planting hole. A light dressing of fertilizer in spring will keep them blooming throughout the season.
These types are best cut for arrangements when the buds are just beginning to open. It is popular in bridal bouquets.
King Protea (Protea Cynaroides)
King Protea is one of the most famous and easily recognizable types. It is also the national flower of South Africa. The king protea has a large head of deeply lobed petals surrounded by smaller ones. The flower can be up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and is usually reddish-brown or pink in colour.
It is easy to grow from seed, but it takes patience. It can take up to two years for seeds to germinate. Once they do, they can be transplanted into the garden or kept in pots. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
King White is famous for being with the most prominent flower head. It can grow up to 30 cm in diameter! King White is also known as the giant and is endemic to South Africa. How amazing that such a large and beautiful flower can come from such a small protea plant!
King White blooms typically in late spring or early summer, but King Pink can bloom all year round! It is also the everlasting or sugarbush and is endemic to South Africa.
It can be used for decorative purposes, as the blooms last long without wilting.
Bird’s Nest (Banksia Baxteri)
Bird’s Nest means “flowering shrub with flowers like a bird’s nest”. The flowers are usually large and showy and are pollinated by birds, bats, and beetles.
Its elegant, long, cylindrical flowers are a protea’s most defining feature. The family is one of the most diverse in the plant world. It grows in various habitats, from forests to heaths.
The spider is a type that gets its name from its spiky, web-like flowers. The spider is native to South Africa and can be found in various habitats, including protea forests and heaths.
It is best described as medium-sized with a diameter of around 10 cm. It can’t tolerate frost and prefers well-drained soils.
Susara (Protea Susannae x Magnifica)
Susara is a compact that grows between 1 and 1.5m high and wide. It has large, dark green leaves and stunning crimson flowers with deep yellow centres, appearing from late winter through spring.
Little Susara is perfect for growing in pots or as a low hedge. It’s also an excellent cut flower. It can be found naturally on the forest margins, in open fynbos and on roadsides in the Cape.
Pincushion Protea (Leucospermum Cordifolium)
A pincushion is best when planted in the spring. If planting several together, make sure to leave about 3 feet between each one, so they have room to grow. Pincushion needs full sun and well-drained soil. They are drought tolerant once established but will need regular watering the first year after planting.
It would take about 5-7 plants to make a flower arrangement. It looks like a pincushion, with a big head of many small flowers on a single stem. The flower symbolizes diversity and courage.
Banksia Ashby’s is unique and is an Australian native that blooms in shades of yellow, orange, and red. The flower heads are hundreds of small florets that open over several weeks.
Banksia is named after Sir Joseph Banks, the first European to collect and study them. They are endemic to Australia and can be found in various habitats, including protea forests and heaths.
Skyrocket (Leucospermum Reflexum var. Luteum)
Skyrocket might look like it on steroids. It’s a tall, fast-growing protea that can reach heights of up to 3m. It has large, bright green leaves and vibrant yellow flowers that appear in spring and summer.
Skyrocket is perfect for growing as a specimen plant or in a hedge. They are also excellent cut flowers.
Banksia Media is the best place to find growing tips, tricks and information. Banksia Media has everything you need to know whether you’re a protea enthusiast or just looking to learn more about these unique flowers.
Banksia Media is very handsome, with its dark green leaves and large, showy flowers. Banksia Media loves the sun and heat, so he is perfect for gardens in warm climates. He is also drought tolerant, making him a low-maintenance protea that is easy to care for.
Limestone Sugarbush (Protea Obtusifolia)
Limestone Sugarbush can be found on sandstone and shale slopes. It prefers full sun and well-drained, sandy soils. Sugarbushes occur in the Western Cape of South Africa. The name “sugarbush” comes from the sweet nectar their flowers produce.
Limestone is a species found on sandstone and shale slopes in the Western Cape of South Africa. The tree produces sweet nectar, which attracts birds and insects. The sugarbush is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 3 metres tall. Sugarbushes occur in the Western Cape of South Africa. from forests to mountains.
Black Beard (Protea Lepidocarpodendron)
Black Beard petaloid has long, black hairs on the outside of its flowers, which give it a “beard” like appearance. The flowers are also fringed with red or pink.
It looks scary, but don’t let the Black Beard fool you. This is quite friendly and easy to grow. He just needs full sun and well-drained soil.
Vanessa is a fairy that is perfect for growing in pots or as a low hedge. It has small, white flowers with pink centres that appear in spring and summer. They must cope with hot summers, cold winters, and sometimes even hungry koalas. But Vanessa is tough as nails. She can handle just about anything you throw at her.
Venus PBR (Protea Rupens x Aristata)
Venus is a hybrid created by crossing Protea repens with Protea aristata. The result is a protea that has the best features of both parents.
Venus is a beautiful flower with large, white petals and a pink centre. She is perfect for growing in pots or as a low hedge. Ideal for gardens in warm climates. It has the talent to thrive in well-drained soil and can even handle drought conditions.
Burgundy Sunset PBR (Leucospermum Laureolum Hybrid)
Burgundy Sunset PBR has a record-breaking flower diameter of 10cm. The flowers are a deep burgundy colour with a yellow centre. They appear in spring and summer.
This takes the cake when it comes to big, beautiful flowers. Burgundy Sunset is sure to make a statement in any garden. She loves the sun and heat, so she is the perfect for gardens in warm climates. Burgundy Sunset is also quite drought tolerant, making her a low-maintenance protea that is easy to care for.
Silver Tree (Leucadendron Argenteum)
Silver Tress has shiny silvery foliage. It faces the cold, windswept Southwestern Cape of South Africa and has to cope with poor, sandy soils. It grows to a height of between 5 and 7 m (sometimes up to 16 m).
The leaves are single or in whorls of three and are covered with fine silky hairs. They are oblong to lanceolate in shape and have toothed margins. The flowers are in terminal clusters and are yellow, orange or red with a prominent cone. Flowering takes place from June to September.
The Madiba Protea
The Madiba Protea is everything are not- it is small, has pink and yellow flowers and has a long flowering season. It is also known as the ‘King protea’.
The Madiba protea was named after Nelson Mandela in honour of his 80th birthday. The flower has been associated with Mandela since he was a young freedom fighter. It was found first in the Eastern Cape, in the areas around Nelson Mandela’s birthplace.
Juliet (Protea Magnifica x Pudens)
Juliet growing to new heights with her massive, magenta blooms. This hybrid can grow up to 4 m in height and produces flowers as big as dinner plates!
Juliet keeps flowers all year, with a peak season from late July to early August.
Mint Julep (Banksia Speciosa)
Mint Julep will do best in free-draining soil in an open, sunlit position. It is drought and salt tolerant. It is generally happy in most soils as long as they have good drainage but will not tolerate waterlogging. They range in size from low ground covers to large shrubs and trees.
Mint Julep roots are very aggressive and will quickly fill any pot. However, they have a short life span in pots, so it is best grown in the garden.
The Queen Protea (Protea Magnifica)
The Queen Protea was named by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus and is indigenous to the Cape Floral Kingdom. It is the national flower of South Africa and grows mainly in the Western Cape.
They are divided into two main groups, the soft-leaved (such as the Queen protea) are found in the Fynbos Biome. The Queen can grow to a height of 1,5m and has large, leathery leaves and a woody stem.
The Duchess Protea (Protea Eximia)
The Duchess Protea will take a lot of water during its first two years to establish a deep and extensive root system. After that, it is quite drought tolerant. It grows in the sun or part shade and will reach a height of between 2 and 4 metres. The flowers are pink and white and appear from November to June.
The Duchess is the most well-known and popular species. Protea eximia, also called common protea, is an upright shrub with leathery, lance-shaped leaves. The flower heads are many tiny flowers surrounded by large, pinkish-white bracts.
Cream Mink (Protea neriifolia)
Cream Mink is essential to the protea industry as it is used as a rootstock for grafting proteas. It is a hardy, evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 2 metres. The leaves are dark green, leathery and glossy with a prominent midrib. The flowers are white with cream or pinkish tinge, borne singly on long stalks from November to April.
It slowly forms a woody trunk with an upright, spreading habit. This makes it ideal for a hedge, screen or informal windbreak. It is also helpful in gardens as it is fast-growing and provides quick cover.
High Gold (Leucospermum)
High Gold is as high as 1,8 metres with yellow flowers and dark green leaves. This blooms from August to November.
Once it is established, it can survive in gardens with minimum watering. It loves the sun, and it needs well-drained soil.
Blushing Bride (Serruria Florida)
The blushing bride is appealing for its compact growth habit, pretty flowers and long flowering season. The flower head is made up of many tiny flowers. The individual flowers are white with a touch of pink at the edges, maturing to deep pink.
The plant grows to around 1m high and wide, making it ideal for protea flower arrangements and smaller gardens. When planted en masse, it creates a hedge, and plants are also suitable for growing in pots.
Niobe (Protea neriifolia x laurifolia)
Protea expert Janice Goldblum discovered Niobe in 2006 due to hybridization between two species, Protea neriifolia and Protea laurifolia.
It is a vigorous plant with large, deep pink flowers that appear from early autumn through winter. Plants can grow up to 1.8m in height and 2m wide. This is also excellent for flower arrangements as the flower heads can be harvested when flowers are only partially open.
Protea Compacta was distributed by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and was named in honour of the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will.
These grows in South Africa and have small, dense leaves. The flowers are also small but have a long vase life, making them popular for floral arrangements.
Protea Aristata can be dangerous to grow. They have huge thorns, which can cause serious injury if you’re not careful.
Protea Aristata is famous for being the oldest species. They are also the largest protea species, reaching heights of up to 6 feet.
Lady Di (Protea Compacta x Magnifica)
Lady Di is as bright as her namesake and just as popular! The Lady Di is a hybrid between the compacta and Magnifica. It was bred in South Africa in 1987.
The Lady Di has large, deep pink flowers with a yellow centre. The flowers are borne on long stems, making them ideal for cutting. The plant grows to between 1 and 2 metres in height.
Blyde Protea (Protea Lanterns)
Blyde is a localized plant species of Protea that is found only in the Blyde River Canyon area of South Africa.
It is mainly found on rocky slopes and in ravines. It can be easily distinguished from others by its large, dark-red flowers.
Donna (Protea Compacta Hybrid)
Donna is a friendly-looking that was bred in South Australia. It is a cross between the proteas P. compacta and P. Magnifica.
Donna has large, soft pink flowers with darker pink centres. They make excellent cut flowers and are often used in floral arrangements. It is also used for oil production.
Protea Mundii is an erect, evergreen protea. It grows to 2-3 metres and has large, dark green leaves. The flowers are white with a hint of pink and have a diameter of 10-12 cm.
It can stay in flower for up to two months and is often used in dried flower arrangements. You can easily distinguish it by its long, cylindrical flower heads.
It has a neat, compact growth habit and can reach a height of 1-2 metres. It has long, lanceolate leaves and large, red flowers.
This is found in the Western Cape region of South Africa and blooms from mid-winter to spring, which makes it the perfect to plant in your garden if you want flowers all year round!
Waratah (Telopea Speciosissima)
Waratah is restricted to an area in eastern Australia, where it grows in woodlands and heathlands. It is a tall protea, reaching up to 7 metres in height. The flowers are large and beautiful, with a diameter of 10 cm. They are usually red but can also be found in white and pink varieties.
The Waratah is one of the admired proteas and is the official floral emblem of the state of New South Wales.
Frosted Fire (Protea Neriifolia Hybrid)
It has a fire-looking which is why it has been given the name ‘Frosted Fire’. It was bred in South Africa and is a cross between P. neriifolia and P. repens.
The plant grows to between 1 and 2m high. It has dark green leaves with a silver-grey sheen on the top side. The flowers are protea-like but have a more dense covering of pinkish bracts, giving them a silky appearance.
Common Protea (Protea Caffra)
Common Protea is a small one that is very variable in appearance. It can be found in many habitats, from rocky slopes to forest margins and gardens.
The flowers are generally pink but can also be white or red and have a distinctive cone-shaped centre. The fruit is a small, rugged, woody capsule that splits open to release the seeds.
Protea Longifolia has its mark in history as being one of the first species to be introduced into Europe in 1775. This is found in the wild in South Africa and can grow to a height of 4m. The leaves are long and narrow, with bristly texture, and the flowers are creamy-white with a yellow centre.
It is commonly known as the Sugarbushes and is one of the most popular species. This popularity is because they are very hardy plants and can withstand harsh conditions. They are also straightforward to grow and require very little maintenance.
Thistle (Protea Scolymocephala)
Thistle is relatively easy to grow. They are long-lived, with a life expectancy of 50 to 60 years. The thistle is an evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 4 metres (13 feet). It has large, dark green leaves and large, white or cream-coloured flowers that bloom in spring and summer.
The leaves are linear-spatulate, curving upward, 50–130 mm (2.0–5.1 in) long and 10–35 mm (0.39–1.38 in) wide with a truncate to a rounded apex and an entire margin, They are dark green above and paler below, hairless or with simple hairs on the lower surface.
Protea Roupelliae (Subspecies Hamiltonii)
This is found near the sea in rocky places. The Roupelliae can grow up to two metres high and has large, dark green leaves. The flowers are white with a pink or red centre and grow in clusters.
This plant may be grown in gardens for its beauty and is also used in the cut flower industry.
Protea Nitida is a gem among them. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2 metres. The leaves are dark green, leathery and glossy with a distinctively serrated margin. The flowers are large and white and occur in dense clusters at the tips of the branches.
This tree is slowly growing that can live for up to 30 years. It is indigenous to South Africa and is one of the hardest. It is also one of the most drought-resistant proteas. Nitida can be used in gardens as informal hedging, screening or as a standalone specimen plant.
Serpentine Sugarbush (Protea Curvata)
Serpentine sugarbush is a plant that grows in the wild on rocky, sandy or clay soils. It has a low, spreading growth habit and produces pink or white flowers.
Serpentine sugarbush looks charming in cottage gardens and is suitable for growing in containers.
Other Tips for Growing Proteas
These plants are not challenging to grow, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure success. It takes courage to try something new, but the effort is worth it.
- It needs phosphorus to flower well. The ideal time to apply a phosphate fertilizer is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. If they are not blooming as well as you would like, a lack of phosphorus may be the problem.
- Their roots are susceptible to disturbance, so it is best to plant them in their final positions. Once they are established, they are quite drought tolerant. However, during the first year or two after planting, they need regular watering, especially during dry periods.
Frequently Asked Questions about Proteas
Is the Protea flower poisonous?
Yes, the flower is poisonous. However, it is not toxic to humans, and there have been no reported cases of poisoning from this flower. The toxicity of the flower is due to its high levels of glycosides. These glycosides are a type of sugar molecule found in many plants. The glycosides in the flower are very bitter and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
What does the Protea flower symbolize?
The flower is indigenous to South Africa and has been used as a national symbol since the early 1800s. It symbolizes many things, including the beauty of the country, its people, its diversity, and the spirit of its democracy.
Some say that the flower symbolizes hope, courage, transformation, and new beginnings. And because it’s such a resilient flower (it can grow in harsh conditions), it’s also often used as a symbol of strength and perseverance.
Which Proteas are native to Australia?
There are a few different types that are native to Australia. The Red and Green Proteas are two of the most common, while the Waratah is also a popular type found in Australia. All three types grow best in humid environments and can typically be found near water sources like creeks or rivers.
Is the waratah a protea?
Yes, the waratah is a protea. It’s one of the family’s most well-known and iconic members, and its deep red flowers are unmistakable. The Waratah is found in eastern Australia and grows in forest and woodland areas. It’s a popular garden plant because of its striking flowers, and it’s also been used in traditional Aboriginal medicine.
Is Seasol good for Proteas?
Yes, Seasol is suitable for these plants. They are salt-sensitive, so it’s essential to use a seaweed-based foliar feed like Seasol, which is low in salts and helps keep the leaf blade healthy. Seasol also contains trace elements and minerals, which can help with photosynthesis and chlorophyll production.
Can you transplant Proteas?
Yes, you can transplant them, but there are a few things to remember. One, they do well when transplanted; they tend to die quickly. Two, it likes colder climates, so make sure you transplant them in an area that will be cool. And three, they don’t like direct sunlight, so keep them in a shaded area.
What is the lifespan of a Protea?
They are a genus of flowering plants in the family Proteaceae. There are about 80 species, and they are native to southern Africa and Australia.
The lifespan can vary depending on the species. Some species can live for up to 100 years, while others may only live for a few years.
Can you plant Proteas in pots?
Yes, you can plant them in pots. They are excellent for pot gardening, requiring little water and doing well in sunny locations.
When planting in pots, use a soil mix that drains well. You may also want to add some organic matter to the soil mix to help retain moisture and nutrients. And remember to fertilize your plants regularly with a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10.
They are typically evergreen plants, but they will lose their leaves during winter if grown in cold climates. To keep them looking their best during winter, move them indoors to a sunny location and provide
How long does it take Proteas to bloom?
Depending on the species, it can take anywhere from two to five years to bloom.
For example, the Cape Protea (Protea cynaroides) takes about three years to bloom. It has a long flowering season, from late winter to early summer, and typically produces large displays of flowers in shades of pink, red, and white.
Why are my proteas dying?
They may be dying because of over-watering. They are a succulent, and like all succulents, they need very little water. If you overwater them, the roots can rot, and the plant will die.
Another possibility is that the proteas are getting too much sun. They need bright light, but not direct sunlight. So if they’re in a sunny spot in your garden, they may be getting too much sun.
If you’re not sure what’s causing the death of your proteas, it might be a good idea to take them to a local garden centre for advice.