The King Protea
Widely grown for its outstanding flowers is the King Protea, Protea cynaroides the national floral emblem of South Africa. It is grown widely in Australia and in fact all around the world, the huge flowers are the main attraction.
Flowers can reach 25cm across and it is the intricate pattern created by the outer bracts and the inner stamens that combine to create one of natures gems.
Grown as an ornamental plant in the garden as well as for its cut flowers which have long lasting characteristics and can be dried.
King Protea Varieties
Three main forms are available, the species which has a reddish flowers, the wonderful ‘King white'(see picture below) with brilliant white flowers as well as pink form. Although the flowers are large the King protea plant itself is not, reaching around 1m in height, although we have seen specimens around twice this size.
Like all protea’s the King Protea requires a warm sunny position with a well drained soil is essential. These are a spreading plant and will take well to pruning.
- Best in full sun.
- Grows well in all soils as well as drainage is good.
- Suited to growing in containers, it will reach a height of around 1.5 metres, with a spread of over 1 metre, so a large container is required.
- Use a low phosphate fertiliser.
- Avoid wet soggy soils.
For a plant with such wonderful flowers the King Protea requires little fertilizer, we like to use a liquid seaweed fertilizer twice a year, seems to work well for us. In containers us a slow release Australian Native plant food, or a specialist protea formula which will be low in phosphorus.
If you pick the protea flowers chances are you will be doing all the pruning you need.
Protea’s flower on one year old growth, so this years non flowering shoots will be next years flowers. So prune after flowering for best results.
You can prune back by 50% to reshape the plant if need, however you will need to leave around 15cm of foliage as a minimum to prevent die back.
- Too much shade
- Lack of water in autumn and winter
- Plant is immature