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Protea of South Africa and Australia , plant information for growing and its use in flower arranging

Common Name: King Protea, Giant Protea
Family:  Proteaceae family, with  only one genus (Protea) technically a true protea! There are about 61 genera  (groups) and 1,000 different species but not all are grown commercially.
Country of Origin:  South Africa,  Australia. 
Description: Evergreen shrub with flowers that can be up to 20 cm wide. A spread of 2x3 meters.
Cultivation: Protea must have perfect drainage or they may die after heavy rain. Slopes or terraces are ideal. Open sunny position with some wind protection.
Fertilizer: A light application of slow release fertiliser in spring.
To grow from seed in autumn or spring.
The plants make excellent cut flowers and are popular in dried arrangements.
The design featured, by Mary Macgregor of New Zealand, shows how protea, with aspidistra in a simple design, can create a stunning effect.
Protea generally have heavy stems so recutting is important but mashing ends is not necessary. Heavy,  woody stems need a firmer floral foam and may need  additional support in an arrangement such as chicken wire or a cage.
Protea are thirsty, so replenish preservative solution daily. Recutting thick stems every 3 days helps keep water carrying vessels open. Handle carefully; Keep away from heat sources and draughts.
In general the longest vase life can be achieved when picking flowerheads when the outermost row of floits has just begun to open, and they are picked at the coolest time of the day.Flowerheads should never be picked before they start opening as early picking inhibits opening. Never pick after rain or dew as wet leaves tend to blacken more easily and develop fungus.
Because Flowerheads are so large, each flowerhead can be a unit on it's own within the whole in a design.. Larger Protea species are ideal for focal points within a display.

A stunning design seen at the Designer of the Year 2001 in Northland New Zealand using  proteas, with carnations.
A modern design using Proteas, by Pat McKenzie For the free lesson from the workshop Pat attended, on a modern design click here
More on proteas, with a photographic collection here. Proteas of the world
Proteas of the World by Lewis Matthews, Zoe Carter (Illustrator) 
This book covers more than 130 examples of this unusual and spectacular family, including  proteas, banksias, leucodendrons, waratahs and other species and hybrids, the text provides detailed information about the identification, cultivation, propagation and beauty of this ancient family of plants. Matthews, nurseryman and world authority on proteas, has written a luxurious book (9.75x13.25") featuring  exquisitely detailed, full page watercolors by artist Zoe Carter. 
Click here to review, and buy online