Course CodeBHT318
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become an Expert at Protea Culture and Identification


The term 'Protea' is sometimes loosely used to refer to any plants in the Protea (or Proteaceae) family; though the scientific name Protea is strictly confined to one genus. Even nurserymen and cut flower growers the world over, may sometimes use the term Protea to refer to related plants in the Proteaceae family, such as Telopeas, Leucadendron and Leucospermum (though strictly speaking they are not Proteas).

This course is primarily concerned with those plants classified scientifically into the genus “Protea” (but does have some wider relevance). The true Proteas do share characteristics, with related plants:

  • Similar soil and water requirements
  • Susceptibility to the same problems
  • Other similar cultural needs
  • Sometimes a similar appearance, in foliage and flower.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • General characteristics of Proteas
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.)
    • Protea Botany
    • One way of Classifying Proteas
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • staking
    • mulching
    • watering
    • feeding (nutrition requirements, deficiencies etc)
    • pruning
    • protection from wind, salt air etc.
    • drainage requirements
    • techniques for providing drainage, etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating this group of plants (cuttings & seed)
    • Propagation of selected varieties, etc.
  4. Most Commonly Grown Varieties of Proteas
    • Protea cynaroides
    • Protea mellifera
    • Protea repens
  5. Pests, Diseases and Problems
    • Protea botany
    • Pest & diseases
    • Drainage problems
  6. Other Proteas to Grow
    • Protea aristata
    • Protea caffra
    • P. coronata
    • P. cedromontana
    • P. compacta
    • P. exima
    • P. grandiceps
    • P. holosericea
    • P. lacticolor
    • P. laevis
    • P. laurifolia
    • P. longiflora
    • P. longifolia
    • P. lorifolia
    • P. pulchra
    • P. punctata
    • P. rubropilosa
    • P. recondita
    • P. speciosa
    • P. stokoei
  7. Making the Best Use of Proteas
    • Reasons for Growing Proteas
    • Proteas for warm climates
    • Hybrids
    • More cultivars for landscaping
    • Foliage affects
    • Harvest and post harvest
    • Dried Flowers
    • Growing Proteas in Containers
  8. Special Assignment - based on one of the following (your choice)
    • How to grow Proteas for commercial flower production.
    • The botanical characteristics and cultivation requirements for a selected Protea cultivar.
    • A collection of different Protea cultivars on a budget equal to an average one weeks wage for workers in your country. selection of the varieties to grow, how to establish them in
    • containers, how to maintain peak health throughout the year.
    • Month by month what to do to proteas to achieve and maintain peak health in your garden. You should indicate when to feed, how much & what.....when to prune, and how, when & if to mulch, pest control measures etc.


  • Explain the taxonomy of Proteas and closely related genera.
  • Describe the cultural requirements of Proteas and related Proteaceae plants
  • Propagate Proteas.
  • Compare a range of commonly grown Protea species.
  • Manage problems including pests and diseases with Proteas.
  • Discuss a range of different Protea species and cultivars.
  • Determine and describe a range of ways to grow and use Proteas; including as a landscape plant and as a cut flower.
  • Discuss a subject related to Proteas in depth.

Origins of Protea

The name 'Protea' was first published in 1735 by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus who referred to the genus now known as Leucadendron. Linnaeus was impressed by the diversity of these plants and named them after the Greek sea god Proteus who was believed to be able to change his form at will. The Proteaceae family includes many prized garden plants.

South African Proteaceae plants are mostly from the Cape Province region, but also come from north to central Africa extending to tropical areas.

The genus ‘Protea’ consists of around 100 species of shrubs and small trees.

Other regions of the southern hemisphere where Proteaceae plants may be found include Central and South America which have about 90 species. The New Guinea islands have about 45 species. A smaller number of species are found in South East Asia, New Caledonia and New Zealand, and mainland New Guinea.

Many Australian native genera belong to the Proteaceae family including: Grevillea, Hakea, Banksia, Dryandra, Stenocarpus, Dryandra, Isopogon, Persoonia, Conospermum, Franklandia, and Petrophile.

Closely related South African genera are often included when people talk loosely about the Protea, including Leucospermum and Leucadendron. These are commonly grown alongside Proteas by nurseries which specialise in growing Proteas, or Protea cut-flower growers, due to their similar cultural requirements. However, strictly speaking they are not Proteas. 

What affects Protea Growth?
There are three main things which affect the way a Protea grows.

They are environmental factors such as temperature, light or moisture; nutrition (ie: the supply of food to the plant and the influence of pest & diseases on the plant's health. You should strive to gain a broad appreciation of these three factors. With such an understanding comes the ability to make your own decisions about how to grow a particular plant in a particular place.

 Environmental Factors

  • Consider where the plant grows naturally.

This may give you some idea of its requirements (e.g. Proteas commonly occur in well drained soils, indicating that they need good drainage; plants which grow above the snowline will probably tolerate very cold conditions, etc.). A plant which is grown outside of its natural environment can often still be grown successfully, but you may find that it will grow differently (e.g. tropical plants which are grown in the southern states tend to be smaller in size; in other words the plants may need more protection than they do in the north).

  • Consider light and temperature conditions.

Most Proteas occur naturally in situations that are in either full sun or light shade.

Characteristics such as foliage colour, flowering, fruiting, rate of growth, etc. are largely controlled by temperature and light conditions. It is helpful to think of plants as having "optimum", "tolerable" and "intolerable" ranges of environmental conditions. For instance, for a particular Protea, optimum growth may be achieved if temperatures stay between 20 and 30 degrees centigrade. The same plant may tolerate temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees C. and perhaps as high as 50 degrees C., but above or below these extremes the plant will die. Many plants will lose the brilliant colour in their leaves if they do not get ample light. Flowering and subsequent fruit development will also be affected by low light levels for many plants. Similarly rainfall, wind, hail, frost, etc. will all affect plant growth.


Who Will Benefit From This Course?

  • People working or wishing to work in the area of cut flower production.
  • The backyard enthusiast



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