proteas in pots

xenozoon(z10 San Diego)April 25, 2004

I just bought a couple of plants I've been drooling over for a long time: a Protea cynaroides and a Leucospermum "gold top". Both are in 6-inch plastic pots, in a mix of primarily sand, with some perlite and bark. The Leucospermum is about a foot and a half tall, looks like an established cutting, while the king protea looks like it was grown from a seed, and is about 8 inches tall. Due to the limited space in my garden, I'd like to transplant them to large clay pots, and maintain them in such pots for life. I suppose I'll need to approximate the mix that they're in now (i.e., sand-based, fast-draining). I understand they like minimal root disturbance. Climatically, I think they should be OK here: I've seen frost twice in 7 years, and 90 degrees F about as often.

Can I grow these plants in containers? Any suggestions?

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I guess Protea in containers are a good idea in Mediterranean climate areas. I've seen them in large pots in Southern California--from La Jolla to Gaviota. They do have things they like: fast drainage, air movement and breezes, cool ocean breeze suits a lot of them.

You can't really expect success with them in this area (Houston). I've killed dozens trying to get them to grow.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2004 at 9:50PM
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chuck1260(Cen. Coast CA)

I know your message was posted almost a year ago. I am wondering how the proteas are doing. They should do fine in your climate without much care.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 11:07PM
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xenozoon(z10 San Diego)

So, Garden Web community, what's wrong with my proteas? These are the same plants that I mentioned in the original post of this thread a year and a half ago. My King Protea is more or less in suspended animation. The plant grew a little bit initially, now it has 4 main stems not quite as big around as a pencil and not quite a foot tall. Why isn't it growing faster? The Leucospermum put on some growth, but isn't blooming. They're both in clay pots, in about 50/50 sand and camelia mix, and they get pretty good light, but not all-day full sun. I give them half-strength fish emulsion every 8 weeks while the weather is warm. What will it take to get them to grow and bloom?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 12:39PM
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Fish emulsion is about 2-4-5 according to a quick google search. Given that ratio of nutrients I'm not surprised the plants aren't happy. Proteaceae inhabit phosphorus deficient soils. They have a special mechanism (proteoid roots) to deal with the deficiency, and have no way to regulate intake of excessive amounts. They will literally poison themselves with it.

Switch to a fertilizer containing little or no phosphorus.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 8:02AM
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gracefull23(San Francisco)


I have been sucessfully growing Preotea, Leucospermum & Leucadendrons in some large pots for a couple of years now.

I can't remember how to post photos here, but trust me they have been blooming up a storm.

As to fertilizer, I occasionally give them a handfull of Iron Safe. It's just nitrogen, iron & micros.

I don't spend to much time on these pots, but I do try to keep them moist.

I'd be happy to submit more advice, if needed.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 11:26PM
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xenozoon(z10 San Diego)

Thanks, gracefull23. I notice it's about 2 years since I launched this thread. Leucospermums are blooming nicely, but the Protea cynaroides is the same as last year: not dying, but not growing. I will try the Iron Safe, and increase the watering.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 11:08PM
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gracefull23(San Francisco)

Hi xenozoon-

Try this link.

Photo taken last fall of Protea cynaroides 'Mini King'.

Great big flowers on a compact plant!!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 1:02AM
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xenozoon(z10 San Diego)

Protea fans, I increased the frequency of watering the P. cynaroides, and it responded immediately. Suddenly it's growing! I went from watering it once every 1-1.5 weeks to 2-3 times/week, and boy, it likes that! I'm greatly encouraged.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 11:09PM
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LisaBC(NM Z5 HeatZn5)

What are your favorite small proteas for pots?


    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 11:00PM
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xenozoon(z10 San Diego)


My favorite is the Protea cynaroides that I wrote about earlier in this thread. But that's a bit of a joke, because it's never bloomed, it's just my favorite as I anticipate its future glory. It's doing much better now that I've cranked up the frequency of watering, but I think it needs one more growing season under its belt before it delivers a frisbee-sized pink artichoke.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 9:20PM
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Smaller proteas can make nice pot plants too. Quite a few species only grow 2-3 feet in the wild.

Eg. I have been growing Protea nana for around six years, and it's now in a 7 inch pot. Lovely nodding red flowers. Serruria florida is also easy in a similar sized pot. Some Leucospermum will flower in 10 inch pots.

It's only species that tend to get to over 10 feet that don't take quite so kindly to pots. Although I have P. neriifolia flowering in an 8" pot at around three feet tall.

Australian members of the family include numerous suitable for pot culture.

Here is a link that might be useful: Veld and Bush Flora Forum

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 3:31PM
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What I the size of a pot to be used to plant a protea plant?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 4:00AM
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Near Lake Hodges in Escondido, Ca, we have 4 large Leucospermum "Veld Fire" plants which are doing extremely well, though they get shade from Eucs nearby, and the soil is fairly dense. They are about 7yrs old, 7'x7' and covered with blooms in May. (see link below)

I made about 50 cuttings a few years ago, but only one rooted
(dipped in Physan, Dip n Grow, and put in 16oz plastic cups,
1:10 spagnum to course sand). It is about 4ft tall now and should bloom in 2015. The cuttings were kept outside during the fall, and didn't get the necessary heat & humidity.

I just made 16 new cuttings, younger wood, drenched in
Physan, dipped in root hormone powder, put in plastic cups
containing 1:4 perlite & course sand, moistened with dilute Physan H2O and kept in a sunny window inside this time.

I hope to get at least 50% of the cuttings to take this time
though won't know for several weeks, so may be wishful thinking.

I may put one in a large pot on the deck, but most will go into the ground in well drained sunny location.

I would welcome any suggestions for propagation by cuttings
if you've had success. I'm just a hobbyist, and not selling any plants, but like to share plants, seeds, and gardening tips.

Also, would like to trade cuttings if anyone has a nice red
Leucospermum. I need to trim the plants, and have many more cuttings than I can use, and don't want them to go to waste.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 17, 2014 at 7:13PM
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