Protea nitida Mill.
Wagon Tree, Waboom, Blousuikerbos, Shaving Brush Tree, Sugarbush
Protea arborea, Protea grandiflora
Bloom Time: All through the year, especially in winter
Protea nitida is a slow-growing tree with very thick white-grey bark that varies considerably in height. It is usually about 16.4 feet (5 m) tall, but in good conditions, it may reach a height of up to 32.8 feet (10 m), with a trunk diameter of 3.3 feet (1 m). The young leaves are crimson, but they become a bluish, sea-green color in later life. Large, bisexual flower heads appear all through the year, especially in winter, and bear sweet nectar. The flowers are yellowish-green and tend to become untidy as they develop. Small nuts are released about a year after flowering.
USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °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 using a free-draining garden mix and 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 pot's surface level.
We suggest avoiding any use of fertilizer when planting out Proteas. 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.
Native to South Africa.
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