King protea – a plant with huge flowers

King protea

If you long to have a flowering plant that produces huge flowers, then king protea (Protea cynaroides) is the one for you. The flower can reach a diameter of up to 30 centimetres! Most gardeners are afraid of it because this plant has a reputation as an exotic flower and exotic plants are difficult to grow in our climate. This is not entirely true; you can successfully grow protea in your garden or even in your apartment – you just need to duplicate the conditions where protea grows naturally.

The origin of the flower

In order to best imitate the conditions where protea grows, you need to know where it comes from of course. It comes from South Africa and because there is no winter in Africa, protea cannot handle freezing weather. A temperature lower than -4 °C would harm it, but there are other species that can handle lower temperatures. It is therefore ideal to grow protea in a portable container and transfer the plant to other room with partial shade where the temperature is around 10 °C.

Appropriate location

Protea is not a nutrient demanding plant. A well-drained acidic soil with little nutrients will do. Watering does not have to be regular, but make sure that the soil does not dry out completely during the first year after planting.Protea is an exotic plant, it loves the sun – and also air flow, so give it a place where it can breathe.

King protea Photo: Pixabay

Growing in the garden

You can also grow Protea in your garden but keep in mind that the bush can grow from one to five meters tall and you need to choose a suitable place. You can buy the plant in many garden centres. Dig a hole twice the size of the container you purchased the plant in. Water once a week. After two years your plant should be strong enough to handle dry weather. Fertilization is not necessary but if you notice yellow leaves, add iron chelate to the soil.

Growing indoors

If you decide to grow indoors, you can start growing from seeds. You will speed up germination if you soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. Nevertheless, your plant will take a rather long time to germinate – usually from one to three months. If you want to speed up the process even further, cover the container with foil where you punched holes. Keep the temperature lower at night and maintain it at room temperature during the day.

Do you want big flowers? Then you need to prune!

With a suitable cut you will force the plan to form larger flowers. But pruning has many other benefits. It will make the bush more compact and give the bush a well-defined shape. It will also allow more air to flow through and thus preventing various fungal diseases. Start pruning when the plant is six to twelve months old, and always do it during spring or at the end of summer. Focus on weak and damaged parts of the plant.

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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