Proteas: Common Flower Varieties, Meaning and Growing Tips

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Proteas are some of the most common flowers around. They come in a variety of colors and have interesting shapes. They are said to be named after the son of the Greek god Poseidon, Proteus.

roteas Common Flower Varieties Meaning and Growing Tips Pin

This is because Proteus was able to transform itself into any shape that he pleased. Just like Proteus, these flowers are able to change as they evolve. 

In this article, we will be discovering everything you need to know about the Proteas plant. This includes how to grow them, common varieties of this plant, and their meaning. 

About Proteas

Proteas flowers can sometimes be referred to as sugar bushes or fynbos. However, you will find these flowers in various different sizes, shapes, colors, and even textures.

They are unusual flowers to look at, so they do have a mixed reception when people look at them. You will either love or hate the look of them, but there is no denying they are beautiful flowers to look at if you find one you like. 

This species of plant is actually quite old and native to South Africa, South America, and Australia. The whole Proteaceae family can be divided down into 5 subfamilies. In each of these 5 families, there are around a thousand different species of this flower within it. 

These flowers play an important part in the ecosystem and are typically pollinated by birds, bats, and small mammals.

Alongside this, they are known to be able to survive in warmer and more difficult climates. As a result, they are a very hardy plant, where most plants wouldn’t be able to cope in their conditions, these flowers can thrive. 

The reason for this is due to their leaves. Their leaves have a condition called sclerophylly. This causes their leaves to be really hard and thick, thus this is what helps them survive in these tougher weather conditions.

The roots of a Proteas plant are also another very important feature of these plants. All the roots clump together, and this allows the plant to absorb water much more efficiently. 

Commonly, Proteas flowers will grow as tall trees or as shrubs. As we have already mentioned, they have a different leaf structure when compared to other species of flowers. It has spiral characteristics from the center of the leaf and the leaves surrounding the stem of the flower. 

Like with any flower, the stem is very critical as it can absorb water. These characteristics have come about due to evolution, as these flowers have had to deal with long periods of drought due to the conditions that they live in. 

The actual bloom of these flowers has a tubular appearance, and they can bloom in a variety of colors. The best colors to find a Proteas plant are either cream, white, yellow, orange, pink, or red. Some species of this flower are facing extinction, while wild Proteas plants have to deal with wildfires that keep killing them. 

Common Varieties Of Proteas

The Proteas family consists of over 200 species of flowering plants. Some of these include the Cape Proteas; the Natal Proteas; the Rhodesia Proteas; and the Silver Proteas. These plants are native to South Africa and Australia.

As a result, there are many varieties of Proteas. Many of them are available at florists and nurseries, but there are many more that are growing wild all around us.

In fact, there are many types of Proteas that are native to other parts of the world. For example, the Silver Proteas are native to Madagascar but found in other parts of the world.

Below are some of the most popular ones:

King Proteas (Proteas cynaroides)

The King Proteas is one of the most recognizable Proteas that you can find. It is a large and bush-like flower, with yellow and red blooms in the center.

The outer petals are a pale pink color. Due to the colors of this variety, it looks the most like a crown and is also the national flower of South Africa.

Within this species, there are another two varieties of the King Proteas. These include:

King White – This flower has white petals with lime green spikes. These flowers enjoy full sunlight and live in rocky soil. They need plenty of space to be able to grow and expand.

King Pink – The King Pink flower has pink petals, which will turn pale pink as they mature. The leaves of this plant are yellow in color. However, this is one of the larger Proteas flowers, therefore they require plenty of space to grow.

Possum Magic (Proteas Magnifica x longifolia)

A dense bush-like flower, with creamy yellow or pink petals that have an orange tip. The center of the blooms is black to dark brown, which helps to attract animals and insects to pollinate. This species requires very little water, as they are very hardy. As a result, they are perfect for small areas in your garden. 

Raspberry Frost (Banksia menziesii)

The Raspberry Frost species has a cone-like appearance for its flower. This is a very eye-catching flower. Due to being a deep red color. There are silver stripes at the top of the bloom and yellow stripes near the bottom of the bloom.

These flower heads can grow up to around 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. As a result, these flowers are perfect for decorative uses. 

Red Gym (Leucadendron)

The Red Gym is a large tree-like flower. Due to having a very big size, they can reach heights of up to 30 feet. They have a unique look, as they have a reddish-colored flower with a green base. The shape of the flower is similar to a tennis ball. 

The flowers have a purple rim around the edge of the bloom. When you look closer at the bottom of the bloom, you will see a red band on the underside of the bloom. This makes the bloom even more interesting. These are very low maintenance plants that don’t require much water to survive.

Rose Mink (Proteas laurifolia)

Pollinators such as bees love this species of flower. They have long dark pink petals, with bright white tips. These petals are slightly tilted at the ends. It is these long petals that make this flower so eye-catching. 

Special Pink Ice (Proteas neriifolia x susannae)

The Special Pink Ice Proteas is one of the easiest Proteas flowers to own. They are very easy to care for and don’t require much attention. The petals are a deep pink color and this plant has very long green leaves. 

Skyrocket (Leucospermum reflexum var. luteum)

The Skyrocket Proteas is also known as the Firework Proteas. These flowers have yellow blooms that look like fire. These are very bold and striking flowers to have in your garden. 

The bloom grows into a cone-like shape, alongside small dark green leaves and stems. This type of flower is known for dealing with really high temperatures and climates. 

Bird’s Nest (Banksia baxteri)

The Bird’s Nest variety of Proteas has lime green petals alongside very bright green leaves. This flower will definitely catch your attention in your garden.

Banksia Ashby

The Banksia Ashby is another cone-shaped flower, with thin orange spikes. Due to the bright orange color, these flowers are very eye-catching. However, it also means that birds love them as they contain a lot of nectar for them to eat.

Burgundy Sunset PBR (Leucospermum laureolum hybrid)

The Burgundy Sunset Proteas plant is known for its very bold and deep burgundy petals and striking green leaves. This plant is one of the most durable and hardiest Proteas plants that you will come across. They typically bloom during the fall and throughout winter. They enjoy the colder and harsher weather conditions. Overall, they are easy to grow and cultivate.

Spider (Leucospermum)

This spider flower is also known as Leucospermum. It has a unique look, due to the petals being quite long and thin. These unusually shaped petals make this flower look like a spider’s web. It is known for its golden-yellow petals with red-tipped stamens that can be seen during winter and early spring.

Susara (Proteas susannae x Magnifica)

This is a much smaller flower, with coral petals that can either have cream or yellow tips. They have large centers which can be either pink or coral. Inside this center, you will notice a small dark circle that is used to attract pollinators to the flower.

Pincushion Proteas (Leucospermum cordifolium)

You will notice that this flower has extremely long stems. The foliage is an evergreen color. With this plant growing to around 4 feet high. The blooms on this flower are a deep red color with frost-white tips. From far away, these flowers could resemble a strawberry in shape and appearance. 

Red Lady’s Slipper (Proteas repens)

The Red Lady’s slipper is one of the smaller varieties of Proteas. They have a beautiful shade of pink blossoms. The stems are usually between 3 inches and 5 inches tall. The leaves are green and grow in clusters along the stem. This plant is great for beginners because it requires little water and no maintenance.

Sausages (Proteas caffra)

These flowers are often mistaken for Sausages. They have a very strong smell when they first open. The smell is very strong and can last for a few hours after opening. The petals are light blue, and they have a darker blue base. The stems are about 2 inches tall and will grow anywhere from 6 inches to 12 inches.

Silver Tree (Leucasendron argenteum)

The Silver Tree flower has a much more unusual look compared to some of the other flowers on this list. This is due to the silver hairs on the leaves that will reflect any light that touches them. As a result, this plant looks as if it is always shining like a star. The Silver Tree is a very rare Proteas flower to find. Yet it also releases a faint aroma which helps insects to locate it.

Cape Proteas

Cape Proteas are native to South Africa. These are probably the best-known type of Proteas. They come in various colors including red, pink, orange, purple, blue, white, cream, green, yellow, and even black.

Lion’s Head Proteas

This variety of Proteas comes from Australia. There are two main varieties of lion’s head Proteas. One is the red variety and the other is the pink variety. Both of these are very popular.

Madagascar Rose (Sporobolus Spontaneous)

This variety of Proteas grows naturally in Madagascar. It is also commonly referred to as the “Madagascar Rose.” It is an evergreen shrub that produces fragrant white flowers throughout the year.

Mint Julep (Banksia speciosa)

The Mint Julep Proteas flower produces small blooms that will appear in either white or cream colors. These are quite small plants and will only grow up to 5 inches in height. However, due to their height, they are ideal for vases and will make your home look more attractive, with these delicate flowers.

Mountain Proteas

These types of Proteas are native to the mountains of Zimbabwe. They produce beautiful red blossoms all year round.

Flamingo Proteas

These are a type of Proteas which has red to bright pink flowers with a very pale white center. They have similar coloring to flamingos, which is where they get their name. Whilst also, they have a unique smell.

Giant Proteas

These are the largest varieties of Proteas. They have large blooms which can reach up to 6 feet tall and are available in various colors. They are very easy to grow and are very adaptable to all types of conditions. 

Lacecap Proteas

Lacecaps are a type of Proteas which have a dark brownish-purple colored bloom. They are not as common as the others, but are still very pretty. 

Mango Proteas

Mango Proteas are a type of Protease which have a very sweet smell. They have bright yellow flowers with a brownish tint. They are very easy plants to care for. 

Growing Proteas

Proteas are very easy to grow. There are several ways to propagate them from seed. Once they reach maturity, they produce beautiful blooms. The best way to keep your Proteas healthy is by keeping them well watered. If you do not water them enough, it can cause them to wilt. 

It is also important to fertilize them regularly. You should use a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. This helps the plants to grow strong roots and leaves.

Soil Requirements

Proteas require soil rich in nutrients. A good quality potting mix is recommended. Do not use peat moss or other organic materials. Peat moss does not hold moisture well. The soil must be kept moist at all times. When watering, make sure to water deeply so that the roots get wet. 

If you want your Proteas to go through their entire life cycle, then you need to keep them in a place where there is full sun. In order to prevent disease, you should avoid using any pesticides.

Water Requirements

These plants require hardly any water. Even during the summer months, you may only need to water these plants once every two to three weeks. During the winter, you may be able to water them even less. 

Make sure to water your Proteas thoroughly when you do decide to water them. However, be careful not to water them too frequently. Otherwise, this can lead to root rot. It is important to let your Proteas dry out before re-wetting them, as this will prevent mold growth.

Light Requirements

Proteas like a lot of sunlight. However, if you live in a shady area, you may need to provide some artificial lighting. 

If you live in a cold climate, you should try to keep your Proteas indoors during the winter months. If you live in a warm climate, you should leave them outside year-round.

Planting Proteas

There are two main ways to grow Proteas. One is from seeds and the other is from cuttings. Seeds germinate quickly and take approximately 6 weeks to mature.

Cuttings take much longer. They require 4-6 months before they start producing flowers. When you want to buy seeds, look for ones that are labeled “Proteas” or “Proteas hybrid”.

Growing From Seeds

When you buy seeds, make sure to get them from a reputable source. Make sure that they are free of disease and insects. Also, make sure that they are stored properly. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

When you are ready to begin planting, first soak the seeds overnight in warm water. Then drain and rinse them thoroughly. After that, put them on a damp paper towel and cover them with another damp paper towel. Place them somewhere dark and warm until they sprout. You may even want to put them in an incubator.

After the seeds sprout, you can transplant them into individual pots. Or you could just let them grow in groups. Either way works fine. As soon as the plants reach 2 inches tall, you can move them outdoors. Be careful when moving them outside because they can easily become root bound if they are moved too early.

Growing From Cuttings

If you want to grow them from cutting, then wait until springtime. Before you plant them, make sure that the soil is moist. Then dig a hole that is twice as deep as the pot. Put the pot in the bottom of the hole.

Fill the rest of the hole with dirt. Water the plant well. Cover it with plastic wrap so that it does not dry out. Keep it in a sunny location. Remove the plastic wrap after 10 days.

Once the plant starts showing signs of growth, you can remove the plastic wrap. Now you can add compost to the soil.

Add plenty of organic matter such as manure, peat moss, leaf mold, etc. Do this every month. After about 3 months, you will need to re-pot the plant. Repotting is necessary because the roots have grown too large for their container.

You can now plant the new pot directly into the ground. Remember to give the plant lots of sunlight and good drainage.

Problems With Proteas

The most common problem that people encounter with Proteas is insect infestation. Insects love the sweet nectar produced by the Proteas. They also like the soft, fuzzy foliage. So if you notice any bugs on your plants, you should spray them with insecticidal soap. This will kill off the pests.

Another difficulty that people often run into is rot. Rot happens when the soil becomes wet and there is no air circulation. This causes the roots to rot. To prevent this, you should mulch around the base of the plant. Mulching keeps the soil cool and prevents moisture from getting into the soil.

Also, gardeners sometimes experience yellowing. Yellowing occurs when the plant gets too much light. In order to reduce the amount of light that the plant receives, you should plant it near a window where it has less light.

Are Proteas Plants Poisonous?

Proteas seeds are poisonous, hence if you or your pets eat them, then you might die. The reason why they are poisonous is that they contain oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is found in many fruits and vegetables. It is used as a natural preservative. However, some people claim that eating Proteas flowers is safe, but we do not recommend that you try it.

Alongside that, any part of this plant could cause irritation to the skin. Especially if you have very sensitive skin, thus it is always best to wear gloves when handling this flower.

Bloom Rate Of A Proteas Flower

A Protease takes anywhere from 1 year to 5 years to bloom. Some varieties take longer than others. For example, the variegated variety will bloom sooner than the other varieties.

However, once a Protease flower is ready to bloom, it will only bloom once a year. Each bloom lasts only one day. During the time that the flowers last, the leaves turn brown. That’s why Proteas flowers are called “brown beauties.”

Symbolism of Proteas Flowers

In South Africa, the Proteas symbolize peace, harmony, and prosperity. They are also associated with royalty. The Proteas were given to Queen Victoria during her visit to Cape Town. She planted them all over the city.

Also, these flowers symbolize diversity, because as you can see with the flowers we have mentioned, these flowers are diverse.

However, alongside that these flowers represent strength, due to the harsh conditions that these flowers can live in. They can grow in areas where most other flowers would die straight away. 

Final Thoughts

Proteas are very beautiful plants and flowers that have an unusual look. They are beautiful to look at and have a wide variety of flowers to choose from. These are hardy plants that are very easy to grow and care for. They don’t require much water, but do like a lot of sunlight.

These flowers are a very popular choice in many gardens today. Especially as they attract pollinators and can have a pleasing scent as well. Now you know some of the more common species of Proteas, you can now easily grow them in your own garden successfully.  

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