Pincushions are in Bloom! How to Care for Them

Members of the protea family are essentially social plants, although there are some exceptions. Fynbos are generally adaptable and, with an understanding and appreciation of the basic growing requirements of these plants, one is assured of a reasonable chance of success – and a great deal of pleasure. It is important to plant your fynbos in full sun. Those from the winter rainfall area require excellent air circulation and cool nights, and cannot abide high humidity in summer – whereas the summer rainfall species are more tolerant of high humidity. In their natural habitats, proteas are found growing in areas that show considerable variation in temperature. A soil with more than 30% clay in the top is not recommended for the planting. If your soil is not ideal, it is best to dig as big a hole as possible and mix some of your garden soil with composted pine bark or the Arnelia potting mix. This creates a transitional layer for the roots to move out of the pot through the bark and soil. Most species need a pH of 5-7, although there are lots of instances of proteas growing in areas with alkaline soils with pH values as high as 8.4.

One of the most important requirements for growing proteas is well-drained soil that is also well-aerated. Once fully established in garden beds with loam soils, most proteas are drought tolerant, but during their first 52 summers they will need a thorough soaking twice a week.

Light pruning is essential to maintain the desired shape and extend the life of protea plants.

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