The protea is
a fantastic plant for year round colour.
and you tend to think of the big furry-headed showy proteas - natives
from South Africa. But the proteaceae family encompasses a long
list of Australian natives (like the banksia) and even our own rewarewa.
and leucadendrons (a member of the same family) have delicate root
systems, so when you are moving the plants around prior to planting,
be sure to carry them by the bag and not the stem of the plant.
When planting, to
stop the plant rocking around and damaging its root system, it pays
to stake them - not in the conventional way by staking the stem,
but by using the stake to create an artificial tap root. It is pushed
into the ground butting up to the root ball.
aware that proteas can be killed by kindness.
On the whole they
like well-drained, acidic soils that are fairly low in nutrients.
They hate fertilisers which are high in phosphates, potassium and
nitrates, but a bit of blood and bone once a year around spring
will help to keep them in peak condition.
One good, deep watering
once a week during dry spells in summer will help to establish a
good root system.
love wind. Get the wind whistling around them and they'll thrive.
They're a perfect coastal plant and will grow further down south
- although they're not forgiving of the big frosts. Nothing much
eats them, either, and they attract birds and bees.
The most common
protea in our garden is the neriifolia. It is a fantastic plant
which flowers almost all year round. But it's the winter when they're
most valuable. And it's a good time to plant them right now.
also very easy-care. The cut flower lasts for ever, and when that
winter chill comes, that's when the colour really develops. You
can get yellows, pinks and reds.
banksia is tough, hardy, and good for the birds. It is great for
shelter by the coast, and has a whole range of flower colours and
If your proteas
and leucadendrons become too tall and woody they run the risk of
blowing over. The secret is to prune them quite heavily, but if
they are cut too low down on the trunk it's highly unlikely the
plant will shoot away.
So prune back to
a point where there is active live growth. This will shorten the
bush and will force new growth to emerge, which will mean you should
be able to make a second cut in 12 months' time. Result - heaps
of colourful bracts.
with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous
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