Anyone out there in Europlantland tried growing Proteas.
I've tried Leucadendrons with varying degrees of success, and, also the King Protea, which stubbornly refused to flower. Banksias, too, seem a little tricky, however, I did get a specimen of Telopea to flower, and, it was like a giant red and white chrysanthemum, pretty awesome.
The King Protea is tolerant of some frost. Just cut it back and it grows from the base. You might do well with Leucadendrons they like plenty of warmth, just protect them from the frosts, and, avoid usage of any phosphates.
Thanks prophet, I'll look into those then. I have the Chiltern catalogue out at the moment, so will see what they are offering in the way of seed.
Avoiding phosphates here can be difficult - lots of maize etc - so really should have the well water I use for the plants analysed... hmmmmm
I have tried 10 different proteas. Seed sown in August 2004, I had I think half of the varieties with germination, some died in the first winter as late germinating and small, but some can be tricky. They can take up to 4 years to germinate, I still have pots left dry which I may water in late summer /autumn. Protea neriifolia I still had until ready to grow this summer, the remaining one just died even though it look quite good. P. mundii died a little earlier, it looked quite good but I moved the stem from hanging below the bench, it died after that! I keep them in the shed under a south facing window, they do like air movement but I open the door and it's not sweaty like a greenhouse.
The ones I have left and looking good are P cynaroides, I had 6/10 germinate, 2 died shortly after, remaining 4 I just potted up from original sowing in 7cm pots. The roots were starting to grow, they are branching now, and roots filled the pot to the edges without going in circles. If you disturb the roots at all they can die, you should cut off weeds instead of pulling them.
They will die if given too much Phosphorus, I have used a mix of my own leafy compost, wood ash and gritty river soil. I sterilised the plants pots at the beginning, you need to sow one per pot so as not to disturb them (111 pots I had). I also grew 5 of serruria florida, 2 grew after frosts to -5C in the new year 2005, one died later, the other died this winter.
The compost should also be sterilised, I poured boiling water over it once in the pots before sowing (13 kettles full). Moss will grow on th esurface, but you can't remove it, I think some of mine died because of this. They should really be planted in the ground early as they make long tap roots to survive dry periods, but for me it wasn't possible and risky. The ones I grew are hardy to zone8, they grow in mountainous areas where it is very cold in winters. There are others species that should be grown in spring.
I bought my seed from a Sth African grower, a private family concern, and because of the exchange rate they are very cheap. The ordering is online, you can select the currency, the postage is added. It will be sent registered post which there is a lot of money, but ex.rate makes it around £3. Registered is necessary due to the unreliable postal services there.
You will find the new seed batches mostly ready for August. Freshness is important, and many protea seed do not germinate at all, there is a chart somewhere that gives %rates. Mine did well at 6/10 for some, their seed is good. Many have a 30% or less, to 10% down to 1% germination rate, the seed is not viable from a natural survival technique which prevents all of the viable seed being carried off by vermin. I would, after my experiences, try only P cynaroides, but don't let that put you off.
E. coccinuem I had the same problem after repotting. They really should go straight in the ground, I also had a Daphne blagayana in a deep pot which grew well for so long then gave up, they should be planted in the ground The Proteas died without repotting though! It would be good to try them again perhaps in a spot in the ground, but I don't think they would like the type of winter we have (as young plants anyway).
The remaining 4 P cynaroides do look healthy, fingers crossed I think they will be OK.
Wow, thanks for all the detailed information and link wallaby.
I had a beautiful Daphne blageyana that seemed to be thoroughly at home and enjoying itself in a shady spot in the ground in my garden in Kent. It suddenly lost all its leaves and gave up the ghost. I have heard since that they are well known for it :(
While it lasted it was one of my favourite plants, with those gorgeously scented creamy flowers.
philomel I'm glad I wasn't the only one! I do know they can do this, but in the ground I thought they were supposed to be better lived. Mine was growing nicely, and had some flowers, that's what I really like about them. You'd think at the point it's looking good it would live! Perhaps I won't try it again, but Embothrium coccineum if grown from seed might be better. I decided to give up on that too, I already have too many plants that grow bigger than the space I have for them..
Do you think you might try Proteas? That is a challenge, but what a flower!
If you want info on Proteas then Trevena Cross Nursery, in Cornwall, is your first port of call. They specialize in all things Protea. I get all mine from there, either by mail order, or a visit whilst on holiday in Cornwall. Leucadendron argenteum is gorgeous, but as always, tricky to maintain in vigorous growth. They even do a Protea-friendly compost mix.
I believe D blageyana is prone to a viral, or possibly fungal attack - can't remember which. I think the plants are short lived in their natural habitat. Perhaps someone with more experience might know?
I think my Protea lust will have to remain burning as, although we have lovely long hot sunny summers, the winter temperatures dip far lower than they will tolerate and I don't have any frost free overwintering ...yet...
Yep, bought one from there. It died. This is why I think it's best to grow your own. I also bought other plants from them which died. They may have good plants, an Agave americana veariegata I got also from them was a good one and has done well, but a few of them just weren't robust and petered out. I don't know if the overwatering for carriage did it, but the compost they were grown in seemed heavy and waterlogged, some plants just don't like travelling. I spent a lot of money and wasted most of it. I have had similar experiences from other places, this is why I prefer to grow from seed if possible. I have had excellent results from many so-called tender types of plants from growing in my own well drained mix.
Sorry for posting in this old thread. I have some questions about a king protea I bought a couple of years agoo.
I got it as a 50 cm tall plant somewhere on a plants and flowers exposition in my country, and it was growing very well during the next half year.
But suddenly, it stopped growing, and now it hasn't showed any signs of new growth since about 18 months agoo. The plant is looking healthy, though. Only some very small leaves in the top of the plant are looking as if they're burned by something (black edges at their upperside)
The plant grows (or should I say: sits) in my greenhouse where it is protekted for rain and moist, and there's also ventilation to keep moisture levels reasonable. Each time I give water, the water gets 'consummed' fairly quick, which also prooves the plant is stil alive.
Has anyone an idea if showing no signs of growth during 18 months is normal? I thought most plants had at least one growing season every 12 months (?)
Hi Cumulus, that's not normal. It indicates that the plant is not getting enough nutrients, and the fact that the water you give it is taken up quickly means the roots are well filling the pot and it needs to be potted into a larger pot. The young leaves sound as though they are drying with lack of water, that will happen if the pant is drying out too quickly.
Be very careful though, I repotted mine again into larger pots after they filled the pots I mentioned above, but stupid me was tempted to put wood ash in the compost mix as they get natural ash in nature from fires. I think I put too much in, and in nature I guess the nutrients get washed in by rain rather than put around the roots directly, they slowy died!
I grew some more Serrurua florida from seed, had 3 and only one survivng but it looks good and is getting big! It stayed in the greenhouse last winter, now it's got this far I'm getting worried about leaving it there! My house is quite draughty, lol, and we have high humidity.
I might try to repot it and do some changes in my 'fertilising program'.
I didn't knew about ash being needed, I thought it was only necessary to get their seeds sprouting. Luckily I have plenty of wood ash since my greenhouse is heated with a woodstove. I will dissove some of it in water and see what happens.
Seeds of Proteas germinate after a fire in nature, and fires provide ash which will wash into the soil. Be very careful with watering it in, if in doubt just use a good orgnaic compost. My Serruria is doing very well in just gritty river soil (from my drain) with lots of composted leaves.
Have any of you tried cactus and succulent mix when potting proteas? Anything too rich they will hate. When I planted my Proteas in the garden I just dug them in and left them. They have thrived due to the neglect. It can be very easy to over pamper them and subsequently they die.