Proteaceae 101: A step-by-step information to rising them efficiently


The mighty Proteaceae! Indigenous to the Cape Floristic Kingdom and exported worldwide for his or her magnificent long-lasting flowers and bracts. Proteas and vegetation throughout the Proteaceae household usually are not a uncommon sight right here within the Western Cape, the place they thrive rising in poor soil and receiving little to no TLC. But, you may nonetheless end up challenged to convey these native gems to their full crowning glory, or might even have had just a few fatalities alongside the way in which. It is because vegetation throughout the Proteaceae household have particular rising circumstances that have to be adhered to for profitable rising.

Don’t lose hope or surrender on rising your personal Proteaceae! It will be significant for us as landscapers and gardeners to preserve this actually distinctive plant household due to its dwindling numbers attributable to a rise in invasive alien vegetation, too-frequent and out-of-season fires, industrial afforestation and the event of housing estates and farms.

However first, let’s take a look at which vegetation really fall throughout the Proteaceae household (and would be the solely ones lined on this weblog).

Proteaceae is a household of vegetation primarily discovered within the southern hemisphere. It contains:

  • Proteas
  • Leucospermums
  • Leucadendrons
  • Mimetes
  • Orothamnus
  • Serrurias

Study to develop your Proteaceae step-by-step with Jessica Ruger, horticulturist:

  • What weather conditions do Proteaceae desire?
  • What soil do they prefer to be planted in?
  • Methods to plant your Proteaceae
  • Methods to apply mulching
  • Methods to water your Proteaceae accurately
  • What vitamin do they require?
  • Some fundamentals on pruning

weather conditions

Weather conditions fluctuate between all of the several types of Proteaceae however there are some necessities that all of them have in frequent. I might at all times suggest that when selecting your vegetation, you do your homework first and guarantee that it’s acceptable to your backyard or panorama’s local weather. You’ve gotten little or no management over this, and will probably be a figuring out issue as as to if vegetation survive or not.

  • Full solar is a must have. All Proteaceae have to be planted in areas the place they obtain as a lot solar as attainable.
  • Varieties that originate from winter rainfall areas will need to have good air circulation and funky nights and don’t tolerate excessive humidity in summer season, which is why they won’t do properly in summer season rainfall areas.
  • Varieties that develop in mountainous areas are tolerant of very chilly circumstances and even some snow, so in case you are in a chilly space, somewhat select one among these varieties.
  • Some summer season rainfall species are tolerant of reasonable frost however winter rainfall species are often solely tolerant of sunshine frost for brief intervals of time relying on the variability.
  • All Proteaceae vegetation want good air circulation, so you should take this into consideration when planting. Attempt to not overcrowd these vegetation.
  • Proteas carry out finest in pretty windy circumstances.


  • Most Proteaceae develop in nutrient-poor sandy soils and so they are likely to not do properly in soils which have a heavy clay element. The overall rule of thumb is that the highest and subsoil mustn’t include greater than 30% clay. When you’ve got acquired barely clay soil then gypsum (impartial, doesn’t alter PH) can be utilized to barely alter the construction by separating the clay particles. Don’t use lime to do that as it would alter the PH of the soil, growing it which isn’t what Proteaceae need in any respect and is poisonous to them.
  • Just a few Proteaceae which tolerate a extra clay soil do exist, however they’re far and few.
  • An especially essential issue is that vegetation from this household require acidic soil with a PH between 5-7 and won’t do properly in naturally alkaline soils. Therefore the rationale why they don’t do properly in clay soils as they are typically extra alkaline.
  • All Proteaceae want a well-drained soil that’s properly aerated and if they aren’t in such a soil are likely to rot and develop root fungi which results in fatalities.
  • In case your soil isn’t good then you can too treatment this by digging a bigger gap and mixing the soil that comes out of it with composted pine bark or a fynbos potting soil for instance Arnerlia potting soil. This provides the vegetation a transitional layer and means they won’t get a right away shock when roots begin establishing.


  • Winter and summer season rainfall areas have completely different planting seasons. In winter rainfall areas Proteaceae are often planted in April, Might and June – when barely cooler climate is skilled. In summer season rainfall areas planting is historically achieved in August and September – when climate is barely hotter and frost has handed.
  • When planting, don’t use any bonemeal, phosphorus and even regular compost as all are alkaline and compost can include excessive quantities of nitrogen, which Proteaceae are additionally not too keen on. Fairly, as beforehand talked about, plant with composted pine bark or Arnelia potting soil.
  • Planting distances fluctuate from plant to plant however the common rule of thumb is that varieties that attain a most top of 2m needs to be planted 65cm aside minimal and vegetation that develop larger than this needs to be planted about 1m aside. Varieties that develop lower than 2m excessive needs to be planted about 50cm aside.


  • The truth that Proteaceae are likely to desire rising in sandy soils makes it crucial to implement good mulching practices. It is because the sandy soils in winter rainfall areas are likely to turn into extraordinarily scorching and dry in summer season months.
  • Mulching helps to retain soil moisture, means the roots are much less uncovered and due to this fact hold cool and in addition prevents weed improvement, which is essential as Proteaceae roots don’t wish to be disturbed.
  • If you’re experiencing weeds, somewhat don’t tug the weed out, which may disturb the vegetation roots, however reduce it right down to beneath root stage to trigger minimal disturbance.
  • One other profit to mulching is that, slowly, because the mulch decomposes, it would launch some pure vitamins into the soil that advantages the plant.
  • Typical mulches used for these vegetation are wooden chips, bark nuggets, gravel and crushed rock. You too can mulch utilizing pruned and cut-up materials from Proteaceae. Do not forget that mulches mustn’t contact the bottom of the plant.


  • When Proteaceae are younger they want a little bit extra water – a superb soaking two-three instances weekly, however as soon as they turn into extra established they’re extra drought-tolerant and water-wise. Watering can be depending on the kind of soil they’re rising in and if the soil is sandy, extra watering than the above is commonly required.
  • Proteaceae needs to be watered earlier within the day. If the roots are usually moist within the night, this may result in fungal root infections which might be lethal to your plant.
  • Container-grown vegetation additionally require extra watering than soil-grown vegetation, requiring a each day or each second day soaking. These containers needs to be strategically positioned in morning solar and afternoon shade within the summertime to forestall drying out.
  • Bear in mind, right mulching will even imply that much less watering must happen.

Diet, feeding and deficiencies

  • As talked about, Proteaceae desire rising in naturally nutrient-poor soils and due to this fact do probably not want extra feeding.
  • In the event you really feel like your vegetation do want some feeding, understand that they don’t tolerate phosphorus (attributable to the truth that they may enhance the PH) and nitrogen. This guidelines out, due to this fact, using chemical fertilisers.
  • Regular compost and particularly mushroom compost needs to be prevented as they’re excessive in nitrogen in addition to phosphorus.
  • The perfect fertiliser to make use of – and what we use at Contours – is Talborne 5:1:5 (16). As that is an natural fertiliser, vitamins are launched slowly, in addition to phosphorus (the 1 within the ratio) is low which suggests it won’t change the PH of the soil to a better one which negatively impacts Proteaceae.
  • An extra method to supply feeding to your vegetation is to make use of pruned materials as a mulch by slicing up materials and including it across the base of the plant (not touching the plant). Because the natural materials decomposes, it would slowly launch vitamins to the plant.
  • The most typical deficiency skilled by Proteaceae is an iron deficiency. This deficiency crops up if the PH of the soil is larger than 6.5 (alkaline soils). That is fairly frequent in clay soils. The obvious signal or symptom of an iron deficiency is Chlorosis. That is the place the leaves go yellow and the veins keep inexperienced. The answer to this drawback is to use both Iron sulphate (5ml per 1L water) or Iron chelate (5ml per 1L water), which is utilized over 1m2.


  • Pruning of Proteaceae is extraordinarily essential to increase the life of those vegetation and in addition to keep up a good condition.
  • There are two types of pruning, specifically thinning-out and heading again. Scaling down is the removing of extra, diseased or useless branches on the base of the plant. Heading again is the removing of branches at any level above the bottom of the plant. That is particularly essential with branches which have already flowered.
  • Pruning ought to by no means be achieved when vegetation are moist and sharp secateurs should at all times be used.
  • The pruning of Proteaceae varies for every kind and we’d suggest that you simply go to the Arnelia web site for extra detailed recommendations on this explicit matter.

In conclusion, should you had some struggles up to now with Proteaceae rising, we hope that these step-by-step suggestions will assist and information you to extra profitable fynbos rising sooner or later. Though not the only vegetation to develop, when you get the gist of Proteaceae rising you’ll be rewarded with among the most original and spectacular flora our world has to supply.

Bear in mind to be on the protected facet earlier than buying a Proteaceae plant. Analysis it and ensure will probably be the suitable match to your backyard and weather conditions. If the wet days do come, don’t be shy to hurry off to your native retailer and discover a Proteaceae gem to your backyard. That is the proper season for fynbos-planting within the Western Cape!