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A picture of a Protea


Protea spp.

Also known as

Sugar bush

Protea cynaroides 3 by Stan Shebs (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Advanced care
Moderate watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size





  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Protea

A photo of Protea
A photo of Protea
Protea nitida
Protea neriifolia
Protea neriifolia

Protea Overview

The genus Protea contains over 100 evergreen shrubs and trees typically grown for their interestingly arranged, showy blooms which are surrounded by colourful modified leaves called bracts. These may be white, green, pink, purple or yellow and strongly resemble petals, giving the overall appearance of a large complex bloom. Also known as sugarbush, proteas mainly occur in the southwestern Cape in South Africa, with about 70 species endemic to the fynbos. The colourful involucral bracts have made proteas and their hybrids very popular in the cut flower industry and in gardens.

Common problems with Protea

Protea Companion Plants

How to propagate Protea


Protea seeds are serotinous, meaning the mature seeds are stored in the living plant canopy and are only released when triggered by an environmental stimuli - fire. When the canopy is burnt, the mature seeds are released. The seeds require low temperatures for germination as this coincides with the first wet winter season. The seed coating is soft and splits open as the first root emerges. Seed must be sown in well-draining, sandy soil. Seeds must never sit in waterlogged soil. Dust seeds lightly with a fungicide to avoid seedling infection.


Cuttings can be taken in early summer to mid-autumn to root well before planting out early spring. Select a healthy, disease-free host plant that has not yet flowered. From the host tree, select a firm shoot that has just completed its growth period - either an erect terminal shoot or an upright growing lateral shoot. Shoots can be between 200-250 mm long. Ensure that there are enough leaves with buds remaining on the shoot after removing the basal third of the cutting. Dip the base of the cutting in rooting hormone. Place the cutting in suitable rooting medium. It is beneficial to keep a regular spraying programme to control fungi. Rooting happens between 8 - 16 weeks.


It can also be grafted or budded.


Special features of Protea

Attractive flowers

Attracts bees

Attracts birds

Attracts useful insects

Drought resistant

Other uses of Protea

Grown for their colourful bracted flower heads.

Cut flowers

Proteas are very popular cut flowers and are exported all over the world.

Birds | Wildlife Friendly

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