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Zones 16, 17, 21-24, H1
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Protea cynaroides

King Protea
Proteaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

PROTEA

Some 150 species of beautiful flowering plants native to South Africa. Borne at branch ends, the flower heads consist of tight clusters of tubular true flowers surrounded by brightly colored bracts; the effect is that of a large, very colorful artichoke or thistle. All make superb cut flowers: they hold their color for weeks and retain their shape even after fading. Leaves are leathery, often edged in red. Widely grown in Hawaii and Southern California for the cut-flower trade.

In home gardens, these plants are not for beginners: they need perfect drainage (preferably on slopes), protection from dry winds, and good air circulation. Give regular moisture until plants are established; thereafter, water only every 2 to 4 weeks. Most need acid soil, although some accept alkaline soil. Smaller species can be grown in containers. Under any conditions, plants are not long-lived. Young proteas are tender to cold; older ones of most species are hardy to 25° to 27°F/–4° to –3°C.

Raised from seed, plants bloom in 3 or 4 years.

Protea cynaroides
Protea cynaroides

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Protea cynaroides

Grows to 3–5 ft. tall and wide, with an open, spreading habit. Dark green, oval leaves to 5 1/2 in. long. Blooms midsummer to winter or early spring; flower heads reach 1 ft. across, with pale pink to crimson bracts surrounding white true flowers.

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