About Proteas


Proteas are a kind of a genus of flowering plants (which are also referred to as land plants and angiosperm). They are also known as sugarbushes. Proteas can be grown in most areas, except in places that are particularly damp or humid (such as places with more than 80 percent humidity). They will not survive cold, winter winds and will require extra protection during that season. Proteas are grown mostly in southern Africa's Cape Floristic Region.


Proteas are part of the Proteaceae family, which has ancient origins in Gondwanaland (a former supercontinent) from approximately 300 million years ago. There are two divisions of the family, which are the Grevilleoideae (mostly from South America, eastern Asia, and Australia) and the Proteoideae (mostly from southern Africa). These flowering shrubs were given the name "Protea" by the Swedish zoologist and botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1735, and is named after Proteus, the Greek god, due to the fact that proteas are easily able to transform themselves, similar to the abilities of the legendary Proteus.


The vast majority of proteas appear in central southern Africa (usually south of the Limpopo River, which flows into the Indian Ocean). There are also some proteas in Mount Kenya National Park in East Africa. Most protea appear in the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa. The region is highly mountainous and has a highly varied landscape.


There are many different species of protea. Some different protea species include Protea nitida, Protea rubropilosa, Protea scolopendriifolia, Protea susannae, Protea holosericea, Protea punctata, Protea aristata, Protea ungustata, Protea canaliculata, Protea effusa, Protea restionifolia, Protea aspera, and many others.


When planting protea, it is advised to keep them away from any heavy clay soils, as they require strong drainage for optimal root growth. In your garden, you can improve your drainage with the use of a garden blend that is free-draining or by building a garden bed that is elevated.


Pruning a protea can be done (with moderation) during the initial year to create a healthy shape and to give it time to become resistant to aggressive winds. Proteas that are mature should not be pruned very hard, as that could lead to irreversible damage.


Proteas can be successfully cultivated in the United States, as long as the environment of the garden is not excessively wet or humid. Also, extra caution is required in the wintertime to protect the proteas from frost (which could destroy them). They can be grown indoors as well. When growing proteas, it is vital to make sure that the soil is, surprisingly, poor in nutrients. Nutrient-rich soil actually can make proteas disease-prone and shorten their lives (as it could make their living rate faster). The soil used is far more important than the climate of the area. Acidic soils are also helpful. Proteas require a lot of watering, and it is important to maintain low pH levels and stop salts from collecting from fertilizers.

Keywords: proteas, flowers, genus

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer/traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has a bachelor's degree from Pace University in New York City, and a professional background in public relations. She has traveled to 5 continents and counting. Her writing has been published on a number of websites, such as Travels.com, Ehow.com, and Happy Living Magazine.