The watering frequency depends on the prevailing conditions and whether your variety is listed as tolerates dryness. Plants labelled ‘tolerates dryness’ don’t need much attention at all except if there are extended periods without rain. Plants labelled ‘water moderately’ should not be allowed to dry out completely. If your Protea is in a pot, ensure the soil does not dry out. Potted Proteas require daily watering during summer.
IN THE GARDEN – Generally it is not necessary to feed Proteaflora plants planted in the garden unless your conditions are extremely severe, like in a sand belt. If so, adding compost and a slow release fertiliser, described as suitable for natives, is a good idea.
IN POTS – Feed annually, in late winter using a slow release fertiliser described as ‘suitable for natives’, or any low phosphorus variety.
Pruning enables you to shape the plant. Removing flowering stems helps keep the bush compact and looking great. Always use sharp secateurs. With young bushes tip prune in spring and late summer. With mature plants prune immediately after flowering, usually leaving 10cm of healthy stem. Leucadendron flower every year. Prune by removing all flowers when the colour has gone. Cut flower stem leaving about 10cm of leafy stem. Trim non flowering stems to the same height. Remove curly stems or any that are on the ground. Leucospermum are pruned in the same way.
With Protea and Telopea plants the non-flowering stems should not be pruned as they are next year’s flowers. When pruning older Proteas that have been neglected, never remove more than 50% of the plant leaf area and ensure that the remaining cut stems have at least 15cm of healthy green leaves remaining.
After pruning, each of the cut stems will produce 2 or 3 flowering stems for next season. As plants mature and the number of stems increase, the stem length often reduces. To produce longer stems, thin the bush by completely removing some stems, usually from the centre of the bush.
Serrurias must be pruned either by cutting the fresh flowers or by removing them immediately after flowering. Leave about 10cm of healthy stem for the plant to re shoot from.
As fresh cut flowers, the Protea family will reward you with a long vase life and spectacular displays. Getting the best from them is easy if you follow these simple rules. Always use a clean vase and clean water. Add one tablespoon of bleach per litre of water and remember to top up the water daily. For best results display your Proteas in a cool spot.