Spring Planting Guide
Proteaflora’s Spring Planting Guide provides information on suitable soil types, soil pH requirements, correcting pH levels and a step-by-step guide to planting your Proteas.
Soil is key to having garden success and it is important to understand your soil conditions before you begin planting. Your soil type will help guide you in the selection of plants for your garden. There are 3 main soil types: sandy, loam and clay. Ensure to read the back of the label when purchasing plants to make sure you are selecting something suited to your conditions.
Clay soil is generally heavy and is compact in nature. Due to this it is often difficult for plants to establish roots in clay soil. Clay soils are not free draining and can easily become water logged. If you have a clay or heavy clay soil it will be necessary to improve it by digging in compost and gypsum to break up any residual clay and improve drainage. You can also change the way you plant to help improve success and we will discuss this further in this guide.
Sandy soils are at the opposite end of the scale to clay. They are open and very free draining. This can cause problems as water and nutrients pass through the soil before the plant has a chance to use them. Organic matter such as compost can be added to a sandy soil to help slow down the loss of water and nutrients and give plants a chance to absorb what they need.
Loamy soil is the dream of every gardener. It’s a mix of clay, silt and sand which results in a rich, dark and crumbly soil that is free draining but will retain moisture.
pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The pH scale is a numerical scale running from 1 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral; anything less than 7 is acidic and anything higher than 7 is alkaline. Plants often grow best where the soil pH is similar to their conditions of origin so it’s important to check your pH before planting. Proteas and Leucadendron are generally suited to a pH around 5.5. The pH can be checked very easily by purchasing a pH Test Kit from your local nursery or hardware store.
If your pH is too acidic it can be raised by adding Calcium Carbonate which is sold as agricultural lime. If your pH is alkaline it can be lowered using organic matter and manures. Your local nursery will be able to advise you about your local soil and the best methods of testing and treatment, if necessary. Refer to our stockist page to find your local nursery.
Re-using old flowerbeds
Proteas and Natives are sensitive to phosphorus which is the base of most general fertilizers. We recommend you only plant in old flower beds if no phosphorus fertiliser has been previously used. Proteas are best grown away from plants which require regular feeding. Avoid mushroom composts as they contain salts harmful to Proteas. It is also best to avoid applying blood and bone, manures and products made from them such as dynamic lifter, as the nutrient balance is not suitable for Proteas.
Proteas thrive best in full sun with good air movement. The more sun your Proteas receive, the more flowers they will produce. Some Proteas can be grown in semi-shaded areas – the varieties in the Shady Lady Waratah range are a good option for this type of area.
Proteas are fairly frost tolerant once established. In winter they can generally handle frosts around minus 2 degrees celsius, whilst some are more frost hardy tolerating frosts of minus 6 degrees celsius. In the southern hemisphere, Proteas will not survive on south facing walls. For specific plant location details please refer to the back of the label or find your specific plant via the Proteaflora Plants page.
Time to get your hands dirty
Once you have selected a suitable location, we come to the fun part – planting! Dig a hole to twice the width of the pot. This allows and encourages the roots to expand into the space around them and begin to search for their own water and nutrients.
To take the plant out of the pot lightly squeeze the side of the pot to loosen the soil. Next, while supporting the plant, turn the pot upside down and gently pull the plant out of the pot. If the plant will not come out you can tap the rim of the pot on a hard surface to help loosen it. Occasionally plants can become a little root bound in pots as they grow to fill the space they are in. If your plants roots appear to be like this, you can gently tease them out. This encourages the roots to grow into the surrounding soil, rather than continuing to grow in a tight ball or in the shape of the pot.
Roots that need loosening
Roots teased out
When planting, ensure your Protea is not placed into the hole any deeper than it was in the pot. The top of the root ball should be level with the top of the garden bed.
Back fill the soil around the plant and firm around the root ball to provide some stability. If required, you can plant with a stake for additional support.
If you do have clay soils it will be necessary to first dig in compost and gypsum to break up any residual clay. We recommend you then mound up the soil before planting. This keeps the roots free of the heavy clay and helps to improve the drainage.
Pine bark mulch
A natural mulch such as bark, straw or leaves helps to protect the plant’s surface roots, retain moisture and keep weeds down. Top this up as needed.
Make sure you water your plant in well after planting. Proteaflora plants are reasonably tough once they’re established, but it’s important to water at least twice a week in the first summer and preferably daily when it’s especially hot. The soil around the root system should not be permitted to completely dry out when the plant is young. You can gradually reduce watering as the plant becomes established – about 2 years after planting. After this, the watering frequency will depend on the prevailing conditions and whether your variety is listed as drought tolerant.
Adding to and working in your garden can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding pastimes. Spring is a fantastic season to do this and by following these simple guidelines when planting your Proteaflora plant, you will be well on your way to being successful in growing a healthy plant that you can enjoy for years to come.