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Blooming Plant
of the month

protea, leucadendron, leucospermum

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Protea spp. (pro-TEE-ah)
Leucadendron spp.
Leucospermum spp.

Protea spp.: King Protea, Queen Protea, Prince Protea, Princess Protea, Duchess Protea, Jester Protea, Mink Protea,
Ray-flowered Protea, Spoon Protea, Sugarbush Protea
Leucadendron spp.: Conebush, Silver balls, Silver tree, Spinning top
Leucospermum spp.: Pincushion, Pin-cushion flower

Proteas have numerous flowers in cone-or dome-shaped heads that are surrounded by stiff, colorful bracts. They are available in hues of red, white, pink, fuchsia, green and bicolors.
Leucadendrons grow as showy trees and shrubs. Like Proteas, they have stiff, colorful bracts that surround conelike flower heads. They are available in hues of red, burgundy, green, yellow and bicolors.
Leucospermums look like pincushions filled with pins. Their colors include red, orange, yellow and bicolors.

Each bloom cycle will last for several weeks. The plants may bloom several times a year with proper care and favorable conditions. The plants can survive for years, depending on the environment.

Some varieties are available year-round, but supplies will vary. Order in advance to ensure availability.

LIGHT Bright, indirect light is best for plants displayed indoors. Full sun is tolerated outdoors. The best flowering will be exhibited on plants grown in full sun.
WATER Water the plants well, and allow them to dry between watering. Avoid irregular watering, overhead watering and standing water on the foliage and flowers. Overwatering can cause root or crown rot.
TEMPERATURE Warm areas (65 F to 75 F) are best for displaying these plants.
HUMIDITY Moderate humidity is best.
FERTILIZER The plants shouldn’t need fertilizer. If you do use fertilizer, do not apply one that has phosphorous or ammonium nitrates. Small amounts of ammonium sulphate dissolved in water is a better choice.
SOIL These plants thrive in well-drained, sandy potting mixes. Soil that contains decomposed granite is ideal.
GROOMING Remove faded flowers and leaves. These plants naturally stay fairly compact and neat.

WHAT'S IN A NAME Carl Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist, named Proteas after the Greek sea god Proteus, who had the ability to assume many different forms, in reference to the genus’ diversity of flowers and foliages.
“Leucadendron” comes from the Greek words “leukos” for “white” and “dendron” for “tree,” referring to the silvery-colored foliage on some species.
“Leucospermum” comes from the Greek “leukos” for “white” and “sperma” for “seed.”
FAMILY Proteas, Leucadendrons and Leucospermums are members of the Proteaceae family. Relatives include Banksias and Grevillea (spider flower, silky oak). There are more than 1,400 naturally occurring species of this plant family.
HOME SWEET HOME Proteas, Leucadendrons and Leucospermums are native to South Africa. Today, they are commercially grown in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Portugal and the United States.

Some information provided by:
Ben Gill, California Protea Management,
California Protea Association,
Chain of Life Network®,
The Flower Expert,
Hawaii Tropical Flower Council,
International Protea Association,
San Marcos Growers,

Photos courtesy of Nurserymen’s Exchange, Inc.

You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.