purchased a Protea nerifolia 'Alba' about three months ago
and the leaves at the bottom of the bush are turning black.
closer to the soil surface (where the humidity is highest) during
the prolonged wet weather of the last couple of months is the most
likely cause. In the wild proteas grow in extremely open sunny habitats
with lots of fresh air blowing around them, so their leaves are
adapted to dry conditions and don't tolerate cool, damp situations
well. As long as the foliage on the rest of the plant is healthy
and it's putting in new growth I don't think you have anything to
Another couple of tips
with proteas - don't give them any fertiliser unless they look deprived
(leaves yellowing) and don't hoe around them or do anything else
that might damage the stem or root system. If you do decide to feed,
use a light application of fertiliser with very low or no phosphorous,
or a product formulated for phosphoroussensitive plants such as
Osmocote for Native Gardens.
Gardener, Issue 137, 2003, Page 27
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.