There are 112 identified species within the Protea genus, belonging to the Proteaceae plant family. All hail from dry regions of South Africa, and bloom in fantastic shapes and colors.
Protea Plants At A Glance
Protea flowers are among the oldest in existence, and there is a huge variety of color, size, and shape to choose from.
The flowers look unusual, to say the least, and they also happen to be modified bracts, which are mutated leaves. These act as a signpost towards the tiny, true flowers, which lie in the middle of the bracts.
You can also recognize these plants by their thick leaves.
You may be familiar with the King Protea flower, which graces the national currency of South Africa, as well as being the national flower, appearing on passports and other important documents.
The flower is shaped a little like an artichoke, with a globe-like form, and many spiky ‘petals’.
Protea Name Origin
The genus name is in honor of the Greek god Poseidon’s son, Proteus. This particular god had the ability to shapeshift at his will, referencing the many appearances of these plants.
This name has a hint of irony to it, as there are so many different appearances of the plants belonging to this genus, that they seem to ‘shapeshift’ to avoid detection, the same way Proteus would change his appearance to hide from those he didn’t want to see.
What Do Protea Flowers Symbolize?
Protea flowers signify bravery, creativity, transformation, wisdom, and adaptability.
Protea Growing Requirements
Proteas are shrubs and trees, growing happily in zones 8 through to 11. There are many colors and forms to choose from. Hues include yellow, white, green, orange, purple, and red, but they can also be a mixture, too.
When they flower depends entirely on what type you go for. Some flower in spring and summer, while others bloom throughout fall and winter.
There’s a protea for every dry, warm garden, as heights range from compact to 33 feet tall. For best results, grow protea plants in sandy soil which has a pH range between 5.5 and 7.0.
As you might expect, they need plenty of drainage, so a rockery is best, where these beautiful plants can soak up as much sunlight and warmth as possible while making sure the roots don’t sit in water for long.
They don’t need watering very often and are extremely low maintenance.