In the wild they thrive in conditions described as arid and impoverished, growing where most other plants would not survive. Therefore, to grow these plants in the Proteaceae family, you must try to emulate similar conditions and not lavish attention upon them! Full sun and perfectly free-draining soil are a must.
Planting in autumn through to spring when the soil is moist will give the shrubs time to establish before summer. Don’t fertilise, except occasionally with slow release acidic food, and water well the first year. Once established, they require little watering and will tolerate most frosts. You can practically leave them to their own devices!
No flower is more striking than the protea. These robust garden shrubs display stunning flowers for picking or simply admiring in your garden, mainly through the late winter and spring months. They are salt tolerant, so are perfect for coastal gardens. They’re also wonderful plants for attracting native birds such as tui and bellbird.
Prune young plants in spring to create a strong bush. Cutting flowers for the vase is a great way to prune but also remove spent flowers. Look for these popular varieties:
Leucadendrons are very easy care. They grow abundant flowers which colour up with winter’s chill. They are inclined to become leggy, so you simply have to pick them! Pick long stems for the vase each year to encourage your plants to become bushy and not taller and taller. Popular varieties include:
Leucospermums are recognised for their striking and exotic pincushion flowers, brilliantly coloured in red, orange and yellow from spring to early summer. They will not survive in rich soil so should not be fertilised but regular watering during warm dry weather is beneficial. They are perfect for coastal gardens, enjoying the free-draining soils and tolerant of salt-laden winds. Look for:
The range of Grevilleas is huge, not only in colour and flower form but also in their habit and use, from ground covering and small shrubs to tall shelter and shade trees. Some varieties flower throughout the year, but Grevilleas are mainly enjoyed through winter when their bright flowers are conspicuous. All contain nectar, attracting bees and native birds.
Grevilleas are very easy to grow. Trim them regularly in the warmer months to encourage quick new growth and re-flowering. They all love full sun and long periods without rain will not trouble them. Look for…
Phylica pubescens (Flannel Flower) is a small shrub with the softest feathery foliage and flowers that you will want to run your fingers through. The creamy white flowers appear in autumn and winter and are perfect for the vase and drying. They grow easily in dry and coastal conditions. Grows 1.8x1.5m
Aulax cancellata (Featherbush) features deep bronze-coloured needle-like foliage in autumn and winter and unusual feathery yellow flowers spring and summer. Grows 2x1.5m.
King protea Arctic Ice
Protea Pink Ice
Leucadendron Inca Gold
Leucospermum Scarlet Ribbons
Leucospermum High Gold
Grevillea Robin Hood
Grevillea New Blood