Protea caffra (Sugar Bush)

Scientific Name

Protea caffra Meisn.

Common Names

Sugar Bush

Synonyms

Protea caffra subsp. caffra, Protea bolusii, Protea multibracteata, Protea rhodantha

Scientific Classification

Family: Proteaceae
Genus: Protea

Flower

Color: Reddish to pink or cream
Bloom Time: Summer to winter

Description

Protea caffra is an evergreen shrub or small tree, up to 10 feet (3 m) tall, with a somewhat rounded crown. The grey-green leaves are elongated with nearly parallel sides. They are leathery in texture and can be up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. The flower heads can be borne singly or in clusters. They reach up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) in diameter with the outer bracts varying from reddish to pink or cream in color. Many tiny, single flowers are clustered together in the flower head. When pollinated, each flower forms a small nut that is covered in rich reddish-brown hairs. The thick bark has a chunky, corky texture.

Protea caffra - Sugar Bush
Photo via africanbulbs.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Proteas are often seen as temperamental and difficult plants to grow, but the truth is that they are relatively easy as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Most Proteas prefer soils that are well-drained and acidic, and we suggest to avoid heavy clay soils, as they need good drainage for healthy root growth. If you have a garden with heavy or clay soil, consider improving the drainage by using a free-draining garden mix and either creating a raised garden bed (minimum height 12 to 18 inches / 30 to 45 cm) or installing underground drainage pipes.

We recommended planting in autumn or spring, allowing the Proteas to absorb as much sun as possible. For best results, allow plenty of space between plants for air to circulate and avoid planting any Proteas deeper than the surface level in the pot.

We suggest avoiding any use of fertilizer when planting out Proteas, as they have a specially adapted system of fine roots (called proteoid roots), which will develop naturally to seek out available nutrients in the soil. See more at How to Grow and Care for Proteas.

Origin

Native to South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

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