These South African beauties look fabulous through winter and will continue to do so for many months.Their raw beauty is reflective of the fact that they are one of the earliest flowering plants, dating back to Gondwana land when Australia, Africa and South America were all connected. In fact, the family Proteaceae continue to dominate the southern hemisphere, with grevilleas, waratahs and banksias the Australian native equivalents. As such, they are perfectly suited to native gardens, enjoying the same conditions and coping with low water use and minimal maintenance. Many have stunning coloured foliage, giving you year-roundinterest with the bonus of flowers seasonally.
Proteas typically have larger blooms, Leaucodendrons have smaller flowers and strikingcoloured- leaf bracts, and the Leucospermums have pinwheel blooms with prominent stamens.
Some key care tips for keeping them looking this good:
- Avoid fertiliser like Blood and Bone and Dynamic Lifter. Only use slow release fertiliser specially low in phosphorous, like native blends.
- Plant them in free draining soil and mound them if the soil is heavier or clay based.
- They like at least half a day’s sun
- Prune afterflowering by removing about half the length of the old flowering stem. Only cut back stems that have flowered, otherwise you’ll be pruning next season’s flowers off!
- Mulch well and hand weed when necessary. Water regularly till established, which can take up to 2 years. Pots will need more water as they are dependent on your care.
All make great pot plants too, and cope well in exposed positions, tolerating wind, salt and cold. Make sure you use an Australian native potting mix, and never have a saucer under the pot as they need to drain freely and dislike humidity.
By: Meredith Kirton