Protea cynaroides

Source: Jason Beck

Protea cynaroides

Protea is a genus of plants from South Africa with striking inflorescences.

Protea cynaroides or King Protea is also the national flower of South Africa. It has the largest flower head of all Protea.

The common name protea (without capital P) is also used for plants of the genera Leucadendron, Leucospermum and Serruria, which also belong to the family Proteaceae.

The Proteaceae family was one of the first groups of flowering plants on the supercontinent Gondwana, at least 160 million years ago.


Protea are shrubs or trees of up to 8 m high.

The leaves are alternative or clustered near the ends of the branches.

The flowers grow in dense heads, surrounded by conspicuous bracts. The bracts are spirally implanted and are sometimes brightly colored.

The fruit is an achene in the form of an inverted cone, with long brown hairs.




Common name:

Sugarbush, Suikerbossie (Afrikaans)


The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god Proteus, who could change shape at will, because the genus has such a variety of forms.

Protea aurea subsp. potbergensis

Source: Andrew massyn

Protea aurea subsp. potbergensis


South Africa


Fynbos, survives fire


Depends on the species



Dry, well-drained, slightly acidic soil (pH 5-6). Does not tolerate heavy soil such as clay.




As long as the plants root system is not well established, the soil must remain moist but not wet.

In soil: only when the plant is well established and is a bit older (after 2 years), is it drought resistant. When prolonged drought, may be watered monthly.

In pot: water daily.

Protea obtusifolia 'Holiday Red'

Source: Stan Shebs

Protea obtusifolia ‘Holiday Red’


Protea grows in poor soils and needs no additional feed.

If you grow it in a pot or in very poor sandy soil, you may very sparingly fertilize with diluted fertilizer. Does not tolerate high concentrations of phosphorus.


May be lightly pruned after 1 year. Flower heads should be removed, as well as thin branches or branches that grow downward.

Pruning should be limited to shaping the tree or bush, you should never cut drastically because this will damage the plant.

Cut flowers:

Cut a piece of stem as long as possible with leaves. Remove the lower leaves before you put the flower in water. Then cut 1-2 cm of the stalk regularly in order to keep the flower fresh. Change the water regularly and add 1 teaspoon of bleach to the water.

The flower heads can be dried by hanging them upside down in a dark, well-ventilated place. They will then retain their color.


Propagation can be done by cuttings or seed.

Sowing is not that difficult but the seeds need to mature 9-12 months after flowering.