I wish this plant were more available to the public. It does super well here. It blooms when not much else is in bloom, flowers can be picked. It is a tough plant, grows in very poor soil, is water efficient and has beautiful gray-green foliage. Most nurseries only stock the five gallon size for lots of money.
They should do fine in San Jose. They do require pretty good drainage and cannot handle too much frost when they are young. Cannot handle phosphorus containing fertilizers either. San Diego county has some of the larger growers of various types of protea in CA. They are subject to phytophora cinamonium which is present in the ground all over CA, but unless they have bad drainage or get stressed by something else, they do not fall prey to it.
I started growing them in pots, but then put some in the ground and they are actually doing better. Australian Native Plants Nursery on Casitas Pass Road in Carpenteria has a huge selection. Leucospermum have been heavily hybrized so there are a number of colors and flower shapes. There are also a number of native species, The leucospermum seem easier to grow than the regular proteas, flower more consistently and heavier. I do not have any pictures, but plan on getting some.
There are spectacular ones on Maui once you get about a thousand feet up the mountain
I have a hybrid leucospermum that starts out cream and then turns red as it ages. It has grown the fastest. I am going to try growing them from seed. The leucosdendrons have smaller flowers with different shapes. Some of the dryandras have flowers similar to the leucospermums. I have tried the banksias but they seem much more touchy to me. Very fewl have made it for more than a year, even in pots.
Has anyone had any luck growing proteas in the Sacramento area (zone 9b)? I would love to plant some, but I don't see very many in the local nurseries so I was wondering if it was because they don't do well in Sacramento.
Might be a tad cold for them in Sacramento, but there are a number of proteaceae that can handle some frost. The family is very large and has lots of members that live in a variety of conditions. Even within the leucospermums (pincushion) there is some variation. The proteaceae are just not that available in California except at a few specialty nurseries, botanical garden sales and a few of the nurseries that carry unusual plants. Most of the one I have seen are in five gallon containers and sell for big bucks. Even here on the coast where they do great they are not that available. Australian Native Plants on Casitas Pass Road near Ventura grows them and sells retail as well. She also does mail order. I am just not sure about Sacramento. Very good drainage seems to be more important than anything else.
Chuck1260 - Thanks a lot for the information. My sister lives near Ventura so I will try and stop by that nursery in the near future. Maybe they will have some proteacae that can handle a little frost. Went to visit a proteacae farm in Maui last summer and that really inspired me to try and grow them.
Get the phone number from her online site and then call her before you go. She is usually there, but it is a tad off the beaten path. She is very nice and it was a great experience. I was there about an hour and a half and bot a full pickup load of plants double stacked. She has much more at the nursery than it shown online, both South African and Australian. Do a little research ahead of time as it can be somewhat overwhelming to see all these different plants that you have no clue about. She was very helpful but I did know a fair amount so it helped, but there were still many plants that were brand new to me. When I clean out my driveway and get the seeds propagated I will go back as she has some things that are not otherwise available.