Propagating Proteas, Leucadendron and Leucospermum
Proteas are easy to get started from seed. Plants cultivated from seed always vary; this can be used to advantage if you have the time and patience to select the most beautiful and vigorous individuals and then multiplying them by cuttings.
From seed, the best species are:
- Protea compacta
- P. cynaroides
- P. grandiceps
- P. obtusifolia
- P. repens
- Leucadendron laureolum
- Leucospermum sp.
- Serruria florida
The best time to sow Protea seed in Australia is in Autumn (March, April or May). They do best in a seedbed of well drained soil, with a pH of 3.5 to 5.5. A mix of equal parts coarse sand, loam and acid leaf mould or peat moss will produce good results.
Do not sow seed too deeply, just press lightly into the soil surface and sieve a little more soil over the top. The seed will take between 2 weeks and 4 months to germinate and must be kept moist, but not wet throughout this period. Some seed may fail to germinate in the first year and can be left to germinate the following year.
Transplanting into containers, such as plastic pots, is done just after the first true leaves appear. Serruria florida is an exception, however, and can be transplanted when the plants are 8 cm tall, or even bigger.
Seed of Proteas can be obtained from commercial seed suppliers, or can be collected from plants that you may have access to. Seed of many of the Proteaceae make take a fair while to mature (often 6 12 months) so be careful when collecting your own seed that is fully mature.
Cuttings are best taken in early spring or early autumn and placed in a cutting mix of 75 per cent coarse sand and 25 per cent peat moss. The pots should be placed in a propagating bed with both heating and misting in full sun. Cuttings can be 10 to 20 cm long with the bottom 70 per cent of the stem stripped of leaves, being careful not to strip or damage the stem when removing the leaves. They are then treated with a medium or hardwood strength hormone powder, gel or liquid.
Leucospermum is easily grown from cuttings, but can also be propagated by root cuttings and grafting.
Transplanting and Care
In the case of seedlings, once the first true leaves have formed, transplanting to containers presents no special problems. Well grown cuttings are also quite easily transplanted, either into containers or directly into their final position in protected sites. All plants will require some care after transplanting.
In winter dominated and year round rainfall areas proteas can be planted in late winter and early spring for seedlings sown in the same year, or in late autumn or early winter for seedlings sown the previous spring and large established container grown plants. Rooted cuttings are best transplanted in late winter to early autumn (particularly in May and June).
In summer dominant rainfall areas like parts of NSW and Queensland the best planting time is immediately after the frost period during spring. Extra winter watering may be essential to prevent any check in the growth of delicate `proteoid' roots.
For plants in all areas some protection from wind and summer heat will be helpful to young plants perhaps a wire tree guard, wrapped with shade cloth
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Very sound foundation in propagation skills -all techniques, equipment and plant types.