The genus Protea

The Protea genus is composed of a series of plants that have flowers of an extraordinarily beautiful color. The name of the genus comes from the god Proteus. He is a god who can change shape whenever he wants. This name was given to this genus since there are more than 100 species of shrubs that make it up.

In this article we are going to comment on the characteristics and care of the genus and delve a little deeper into a species known as King Protea, whose scientific name is Protea cynaroides. Do you want to know more about these shrubs for your garden?

Main features

These shrubs are native to southern Africa. They have alternate leathery leaves and have different shapes (hence the correspondence with the god Proteus). The large flowers they have is what makes the shrub more attractive. They are large in size, similar to artichokes and have bracts with different colors ranging from red to orange and pink.

This woody shrub with thick stems is frequently used for garden decoration. Depending on the species, they have different shapes. It can reach heights between 35 and 200 cm. The flowers are also large, reaching a diameter of between 12 and 30 cm.

It is a perennial type plant that blooms several months a year. There are many animals that are attracted by the smell and taste of the sweet nectar it has. Birds and insects, such as the beetle, are on their way to taste the sugar-rich nectar. Most blooms occur when the plant is young and about 5 years old. The amount of flowers that come out in each bloom depends entirely on the nutrients in the soil. If we have it planted in poor soil, the flowers will not only come out in fewer numbers but less colorful.

Its seeds are dispersed by the wind and germinate when the autumn rainy season arrives. If there is a fire, the trunk resists it and then several shoots sprout from it.

Necessary care

Plants of the genus Protea are used in gardens, as long as the climate of the area allows it. They grow quite well in the coastal Mediterranean climate. Although it does not withstand frost well, it can be grown well in greenhouses if the temperatures in the area tend to be below 7 degrees frequently.

They need direct sun exposure and temperatures that are between 20 and 25 degrees. The more humidity there is, the better. As we have mentioned before, they do not tolerate much cold and frost, so in winter it is better to protect them or put them in greenhouses.

As for the soil, it is somewhat demanding since it needs good nutrients if we want to see those flowers with such color. The best soil is one with a more acidic pH and that is composed of leaf mulch, peat and coarse-grained non-calcareous sand in abundance. This cocktail of nutrients is what allows plants of the genus Protea to develop such flowers.

It is important that the soil has good drainage. It must remain at constant high humidity to improve conditions and nutrient uptake, but does not need waterlogging. We can sow it first in pots while it grows and, when it reaches a height of about 15 cm, the pot will surely be small, so we must transplant it to a definitive place in the garden.

They are quite resistant to drought plants, so the waterings should be moderate. A good indicator of when to water is to see that the soil is drying out. It is better to keep the soil moist. We can fertilize with manure before planting it to improve the growing conditions and then add a bottom fertilizer that has mineral fertilizer.

Protea cynaroides: characteristics and care

This is one of the best known species of this genus. It is a bush that has a branched habit and whose flowers are especially attractive. Surely, if you plant it in your garden, it will become the protagonist when it comes to color. However, it is an expensive plant to adapt to different environments, so the care has to be somewhat more demanding along with the environmental conditions.

Like the rest of its companions, Protea cynaroides needs soils with a good amount of nutrients and good drainage. It is important to maintain soil moisture but without flooding it, since it does not tolerate it. It has great capacity to flourish and adapt to the environment after a fire.

If the climate where you live is characterized by having infrequent rains, it will catch the water through the leaves due to the humidity of the environment. The best location is to have it in full sun all year round. This is the main reason why it cannot be used indoors. Whether it’s planted in the ground or potted, it will need sunny exposure at all times.

Its stems turn brown as they mature. It blooms in the spring time and emerges from the tips of the stems. The flowers are also shaped like an artichoke. It is common to see these types of flowers, along with other species of the Protea genus, being cut, both fresh and dried, for the decoration of bouquets and other flower arrangements. And it is that these flowers have great longevity and thanks to their attractiveness, they can serve as decoration up to 3 weeks after being cut.

Maintenance and multiplication

It must be watered moderately between the months of spring and autumn. The rest of the year we only have to apply water to the substrate so that it does not dry out. Once the flowering season has passed, a deep pruning must be carried out, leaving only a few centimeters to the stems that have flowered that same year.

In the case of Protea cynaroides it is much better to propagate them by seeds than by cuttings.

I hope this information has helped you to know more about the plants of this genus.

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