How to Grow and Care for Protea Plants

Common NameProtea plant
Botanical Name Protea spp.
Family  Proteaceae
Plant Type Blooming evergreen shrub or tree
Mature Size 6-26 ft. tall depending on variety
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Sand or loam that is very well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Late winter and spring
Bloom Color Pink, white, cream
Hardiness Zones 9-12, USDA
Native AreaSouth Africa
ToxicityToxic to people and pets

Protea Plant Care

Protea thrive in regions with hot and sunny climates where many other types of flowering plants might not survive. Their thick, hard leaves enables them to survive in quite harsh conditions.

The Spruce / K. Dave

The Spruce / K. Dave

The Spruce / K. Dave


Provide plants with lots of air circulation and full sun—the more sun, the more flowers.


Protea plants need very well-draining soil. If the soil drains well, they will thrive in just about any type of soil, from sandy, rocky, or loamy. The plant’s roots can grow almost horizontally, just below the soil surface, making them ideal plants for a rocky part of the garden. Avoid letting water sit on the soil because the roots can become waterlogged, likely causing the plant to die. When planting proteas outdoors, increase drainage by mixing bark and grit into the soil.


While plants are starting to become established, water them regularly. Water established plants just every two to three weeks. After the plant is about a year old, water once a week when the weather is dry and when it sets buds and flowers.

Temperature and Humidity

When planted in the correct climate and hardiness zone noted for the specific variety, proteas can tolerate temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit (sometimes lower). They can also tolerate temperatures as hot as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but can die if exposed too long to temperatures any higher. Avoid planting proteas in particularly humid zones.


Proteas usually don’t need fertilizer. Too much phosphorus can actually kill them. Because the roots are so shallow, take extra care not to disturb them. Apply a mulch of leaves or bark away from the trunk. Gently pull any weeds by hand.

Types of Protea Plants

‘King Protea’ (Protea cynaroides L.), which resembles a crown, and symbolizes beauty and resilience, is a well-known member of this genus (and South Africa’s national flower). ‘King Protea’ has yellow and red flowers with pink outer tips. One popular compact variety is protea ‘Little Prince’, and another beloved type of protea that blooms bountifully is called ‘Special Pink Ice’.

Most protea plants do not self-pollinate. However some close cousins in the Leucospermum and Serruria genus can self-pollinate and produce seed.

  • Leucospermums are also called pin-cushion proteas because their flowers curve upwards. Grow them as low shrubs in the ground or welcome them to a planter arrangement in wide shallow containers. If you live in a more temperate zone such as a cooler mountain region or on the coast, this type of protea may be best for your garden.
  • Serrurias protea include the cultivars ‘Blushing Bride’, which produces gorgeous creamy flowers, and ‘Pretty in Pink’, the flowers of which are thought to resemble pink-cheeked bridesmaids. Serruria protea plants grow well in well-draining containers, though they might not last more than one or two seasons.


Bold in color and lush in shape and texture, protea flowers are wonderful for fresh bouquets and for dried arrangements. Harvesting the flowers helps keep the plant neat. Remove spent flower heads along with most of the stem, allowing for new growth. To encourage bushiness, prune young plants in spring and summer. Do not prune unflowered stems; they are next season’s blooms.

Potting and Repotting

For potted proteas, mix even parts peat, gravel, and sand. They do well in nutrient-poor soil.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Proteas are quite resistant to pests. These woody evergreens are neither herbaceous nor annual. Leaves are large, hard, and leathery. When bent, a mature leaf tends to snap rather than fold. Because the leaves have adapted to conserve water, resist drought, and hold carbon and nitrogen, most insect pests tend to avoid them.


  • In the United Kingdom, some gardeners have had success moving protea plants indoors in the cooler months and covering them with fleece until late spring.

  • When exploring other flowers that bloom as fully and as vibrantly, consider football or cremone mums. Zinnias also offer a range of color, texture, and shape. Leucadendrons are very closely related to proteas. Commonly called cone bush, flowers are shaped like tulips and the foliage tends to be very bright in color. ‘Safari Sunset’ offers a vibrant red aesthetic and ‘Inca Gold’ comes in mellow yellow. Newer varieties include ‘Burgundy Sunset’ and ‘Gypsy Red’.

  • They will last one or two weeks at most in optimal conditions.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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