Our national flower, the Protea bush, makes a fantastic (and patriotic) addition to any South African garden. Why not add the crown jewel of the Cape floral kingdom to your KZN garden?
The secret to Protea planting is soil selection with most varieties preferring a well-drained, acidic soil which is low in phosphates. Proteas also need full sunlight to ensure a good yield of healthy flowers.
Choosing the right variety of Protea for your garden
Deep sandy soils are typically the worst for gardens, but luckily for you Proteas love these acidic conditions, and most varieties will thrive if you keep the phosphate levels down. For soils which are rocky and contain sandstone, we recommend the Silky-haired Pincushion (Leucospermum vestitum), the Waboom Protea Tree (Protea Nitida), or the fail-safe Common Protea (Protea Caffra).
The green sugarbush (Protea coronate), the common Suikerbos (Protea repens) and the Kleinmond sugarbush (protea angustrata) are clay loving plants. They are not as sensitive about their soil but for a bit of insurance, invest in some good acidic mulch and rather steer clear of chemical fertilisers. Try our all-natural acid compost, made up of a blend of compost and raw pine bark mulch. Simply spread a layer of our compost about 10 to15mm thick around the base of the plant and work into the soil.
The peat-loving Proteas will make your neighbours green with envy. Traditionally found on the southern slopes of mountains, these Proteas grow in soils rich in peat. To grow these Proteas, make sure your soils are well drained and packed with acidic organic matter. Again, use our acidic compost to seal the deal. Peat loving Proteas to try are the Black-bearded Protea (Protea lepidocarpodendron) and the prolific flowering Outeniqua pincushion (Leucospermum glabrum).
If you would like to learn more about growing these South African icons, join in at Blackwood’s Home of Gardening in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, 11th of August at 10am where acclaimed gardening expert Gerald Schofield will be sharing valuable tips and information on growing Proteas and other beautiful indigenous plants in your garden.