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King Protea- growing for dummies..

Discussion in 'Tropical Gardening' started by CanadianLori, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. CanadianLori

    CanadianLori Ever Hopeful Canuck

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    I accidently brought back some King Protea seeds and know that it would never survive outside here so I will be trying to grow it as an indoor plant. Will it matter what time of year I start the seeds? The package only refers to soil temperature for ideal sowing times. Also, it says to use ericaceous medium. Is that what is pacakaged as orchid or succulent soil?

    Many thanks for any pointers :)
     
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    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      @CanadianLori , funny you should mention this.
      Mine is just coming out, got three flowers this year.

      I grew mine from seed about 10yrs ago, I have flowered it in a pot, so not impossible, although they do like very airy conditions, dry air and very good light.

      Its one of those plants that they say you need the smoke papers, to aid germination, I just mixed fresh bonfire ash with the sowing compost.
      Yes they hate lime, they like very good drainage, I grew my pot plant in a mixture of ericaceous compost and pine bark, very similar in consistency to orchid mix.

      Picture taken two minutes ago, not fully out yet.:)
      DSC_0146.JPG
       
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      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        Poorer the soil, nutrient wise, the better.
        I think your flying under the radar with this one:biggrin:
        I'd start the seed as soon as possible.;)
         
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        • Loki

          Loki Super Gardener

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          My only knowledge of protea was using them in bouquets when I was a florist. I love them but don't think they'd like the climate here :)
          Good luck with them :thumbsup:
           
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          • CanadianLori

            CanadianLori Ever Hopeful Canuck

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            Thanks @pete . I will start soaking the seeds now for the 30-60 minutes recommended. I'm hoping to keep them indoors then maybe move them into the greenhouse for the summer. The greenhouses have really great air circulation. I said "them" - there are two seeds in the packet so I'd need 100% success to have a them... and if I do, I get my colours, right? :biggrin:
             
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            • pete

              pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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              If you get two out of two, you're doing really well.:thumbsup:
               
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              • JWK

                JWK Gardener

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                I'll be interested to see how you get on Lori. I brought back two very small plants from my last holiday in Feb. I potted them on in zero nutrient compost - the stuff used for carnivorous plants. I haven't killed mine yet, they are in our house (not greenhouse) in full sun. That's the extent of my knowledge. Good luck and once germinated do not apply any fertilizer, phosphates will kill them:
                Protea - Care Guide - Burncoose Nurseries
                 
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                • CanadianLori

                  CanadianLori Ever Hopeful Canuck

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                  Thank you @JWK I have followed the link and book marked it.

                  This looks like a challenge from get go. 1-3 months to germinate :yikes: That's a waiting game I've never been good at even for seeds with 10 day germination times. :)
                   
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                  • Verdun

                    Verdun Passionate gardener

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                    Will the mild cornish climate suit them pete? Instead of seed, a plant or two would be my choice......?? :)
                     
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                    • pete

                      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                      I dont see why not, just pick a sunny spot, guessing you have acid soil anyway, the poorer the better really, as John suggests.
                      Very good drainage is another feature they like.
                      There are quite a few other types of Protea to try, I have to protect mine so only really room for the one plant.
                      A few years ago they had various species growing outside at Kew, if I remember correctly.

                      Also other members of the Protea family, most are very unusual and some are a down right challenge to grow, but worth it for their often unusual and strange appearance.
                       
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                      • JWK

                        JWK Gardener

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                        I need some help on what to do with my two Proteas, one is looking a bit sickly.

                        I bought them in Maderia in mid Feb:

                        20180216-WP_20180216_14_21_20_Pro.jpg

                        When I got home potted them up in Carnivorous plant compost (it's a mix of peat and bark - no nutrients) plus Perlite, this is early March:
                        20180303-WP_20180303_09_56_04_Pro.jpg

                        They are very slow growing, today I noticed one is yellowish and a few leaves are dropping:
                        IMG_20180614_231310976.jpg

                        I am unsure about how much water I should be giving them, and dare I feed them? Maybe they need a different soil? Is tap water OK?

                        Sorry to hijack your thread @CanadianLori Lori
                         
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                        • CanadianLori

                          CanadianLori Ever Hopeful Canuck

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                          No, this is lovely John. Ill need this for reference if mine ever germinate.

                          To me, yellow means too much water. Whereas caramel and bending means thirsty and hungry. Very amateur but what has seemed to be a good guide for me so far.

                          I keep looking at where I sowed my seeds. At least twice a day. I keep willing them to be happy and germinate. Wishful thinking but it keeps me àlways hopeful :)
                           
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                          • Sirius

                            Sirius Total Gardener

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                            I had 7 Proteas of different species.
                            They needed repotting last summer so I moved them into bigger pots. Used a mix of JI No 2, vermiculite,ericaceous compost and sharp sand. Within 2 or 3 weeks they started showing signs of stress, and I lost all but 2 of them :sad:
                            Was talking to a specialist nursery and he recons that the sharp sand must have been alkaline which Proteas don't like.
                             
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                            • pete

                              pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                              @CanadianLori Lori, smokey water, it's about germination, they usually germinate after a bush fire in the ash.
                              A bit like lots of Aussie plants do.
                              Not saying they wont germinate without it, but that is the usual recommendation.

                              @JWK , Do you know what species they are?
                              When I grew mine from seed I used ordinary peat based ericaceous compost with 50% pine bark, I'm not sure carnivorous plant compost is suitable, lets face it, they are bog plants, so drainage is not the no1 criteria, even orchid compost would perhaps be better, but I think the lack of nutrient fact is slightly overdone.
                              When I grew one in a pot years ago I even remember using tomato fertiliser occasionally.

                              Try not to use tap water, I'm experimenting with adding vinegar to tap water for carnivorous plants.:)
                               
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                              • JWK

                                JWK Gardener

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                                The sickly yellow one is labelled 'Safari'
                                The healthier one is 'cordifolium'

                                I like your reasoning pete, so I will pot on using orchid compost instead. Actually I took it out of the pot today as I had overdone the watering - it has formed a reasonable set of roots, so I'm hopeful it might be that and will recover when it's dried out.

                                I used rainwater to start with then got lazy. Now I'm back to using water from the butt.

                                Thanks for your help.
                                 
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