The protea belongs to an ancient plant family known as Proteaceae. Its history can be traced back 300 million years, according to the California Protea Association. The plants are native to parts of Africa. Both California and Hawaii produce abundant protea flowers for the commercial florist trade. The plants grow best in a moderate climate and can survive staggering heat that often reaches 105 degrees F. Currently 329 varieties of protea are available that vary in sizes and colors. Plant from November to February for best results.
Plant proteas in full sunlight. The plants require between 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Planting on a south-facing slope affords the plants ample sunlight, but if the region suffers from intense summertime heat, then planting on a north slope will offer cooler weather to help the blossoms retain their color.
Choose a location that offers well-draining soil. Proteas grow well in sandy soil or granite based soil. They will not tolerate wet roots or standing water.
Space each protea plant at least 6 feet apart. Larger protea varieties require 10-foot spacing.
Dig a hole that is three times the size of the protea plant's root system. Proteas are currently sold as potted plants in 1-gallon containers.
Add leaf debris to the soil. Sawdust also works well. The soil should feel crumbly with organic matter prior to planting.
Place the protea into the hole. The soil level should remain the same as it was in the nursery container. Tamp soil down around the protea plant's root system.
Water the protea plant thoroughly when first planted. Refrain from watering the protea more then once per week after planting. The protea prefers dry soil conditions. During relatively cool weather, the protea requires only 1 gallon of water per week, according to the California Protea Association. Drip irrigation is the best way to water the protea.