How to Grow Protea Plants

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Proteas grow with full sun and well-drained soil.
Proteas grow with full sun and well-drained soil. (Image: Protea image by Beatrice Heerwagen from Fotolia.com)

Proteas are named after a Greek god named Proteus who could change shape at any moment. The Protea family consists of over 1,400 species of evergreen flowers, the bulk of which grow in Africa and Australia. They can also grow in the United States wherever the temperature stays above freezing. Protea can grow in poor soils. Once established in the right area, they are low-maintenance, attractive plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Protea plant
  • Spade
  • Water
  • Compost
  • Pruning shears

Purchase a Protea plant from a reputable nursery or start your own from seed or cuttings in a soil-less potting medium. Seeds often die soon after germination from fungus. If you choose seeds in a soil-less medium, make multiple applications of fungicide.

Dig a hole with a spade three times the width and depth of the root ball some time between November and February. Make sure the area is in full sun with good air circulation and extremely well-drained soil such as decomposed granite. Space multiple plant holes 6 feet apart.

Fill the hole with water and let it soak into the ground. Backfill some of the soil into the ground, as well as compost if you have any, until you can place the plant in the hole and the top of it sits at soil level. Place the plant in the center of the hole and backfill the rest of the soil. Tamp down firmly around the plant.

Water deeply once a week during the growing season. This season will differ depending on the species. You should water Protea plants from the south Cape year round, plants from the southwestern Cape in the winter and Natal and Transvaal species in the summer. In the off-season (if there is one) water less often, keeping the plant moist in dry weather.

Prune the Protea plants minimally after flowering. Cut off dead branches and flowers with pruning shears to improve air circulation for the plant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since Protea plants evolved in nutrient-poor soils they do not need fertilizer. If you feel the need to fertilize, however, do not use anything containing ammonium nitrate or phosphorus. This will essentially kill the plants.

References

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