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Characteristics: Evergreen Shrub
Seeds per packet: 5
Proteas are native to Southern Africa and belong to the same family of plants (the family Proteaceae) as the Australian banksias, grevilleas and waratahs. The name ‘protea’ is commonly used to refer not only to plants in the genus Protea, but also to plants in two other genera from southern Africa: Leucadendron and Leucospermum.
The family Proteaceae is an ancient family of plants with a Gondwanan ancestry - it was one of the earliest groups of flowering plants and was able to disperse and diversify throughout Gondwana before the supercontinent disintegrated. With about 1600 species, it is one of the plant groups which now dominate the southern hemisphere floras.
Most proteas generally prefer soils that are well-drained and acidic: they don’t like wet feet. Proteas will generally not tolerate heavy clay soils as they need good drainage for healthy root growth, if you have a garden with heavy or clay soil, consider improving the drainage by using a free draining garden mix and either creating a raised garden bed (minimum height 30-45 cm)
The best time to sow is usually autumn or spring when the temperature range is between 16-22°C and there is difference of day and night temperatures of around 12°C.
If your summer is hot and dry and your winter is moderate and wet the best time to sow is autumn.
In colder climates with less harsh summers it is usually better to sow in spring.
Pre-treatment of smoke is recommended:
Members of the Proteaceae are responsive to pre-treatment of smoke. Although germination will often occur without smoke treatment it has proved to be beneficial in reducing the number of days to germination and increasing germination rates in many species of the Proteaceae family
Smoke treatments are simple and can be undertaken either by soaking the seed overnight or by applying to the surface after sowing, both provide good results. Smoke treatments available by clicking here.