Understand the cultural requirements and the variety of plants used in cultivation today. People growing cut flowers, horticulturists, landscapers and home gardeners will learn a lot from this course.

Course Code: BHT318
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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  • Learn to identify and grow different proteas
  • Learn to use proteas in garden design, grow them as cut flowers, as hedging, tub plants etc.

True Proteas come from Africa. Many produce spectacular flowers, with great commercial value as garden shrubs or a cut flower crop.

The term "Protea" is sometimes loosely used to refer to any plants in the Protea (or Protreaceae) 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 culivar.
    • 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.

Tips for Growing Proteas

  • Soil conditions must be above all else well drained.
  • An acid soil with a pH between 5 and 6 is preferred for most.
  • Additional feeding is generally not needed, though if the pH is above 5.5 or 6, an iron deficiency can occur which may be overcome by either lowering the pH or feeding with iron chelate, or even rusty nails (rust will supply iron to a plant effectively, but slower than iron chelate).
  • Some types do not tolerate high levels of salt
  • Many are to some degree frost sensitive (often only the young shoots).
  • Protection might be needed, particularly for young plants. Damaged parts might need to be cut back after danger of frosts is over.
  • Plants propagated as cuttings do not develop a strong tap root as they might if originating as a seedling. Cutting grown plants can become top heavy and fall over they may require support to ensure stability.
  • Pest and disease problems are generally few. The most significant problems are diseases attacking the roots (in particular the fungal disease Phytophthora) which are most likely to occur in wet conditions.

Related Plants
Genera in the Proteaceae family include (not comprehensive): Aulax, Banksia, Dryandra, Grevillea, Hakea, Isopogon, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Macadamia, Mimetes, Persoonia, Protea, Serruria and Telopea.
Proteas generally prefer sandy or gravely soils preferred, but they are adaptable. Good drainage is vital. Many common cultivated species are more suited to temperate climates, though a number of species are endemic to the African tropics. Most prefer full sun, and low humidity.
Try to avoid soil disturbance. They may be difficult to transplant. Though there are exceptions in the Proteaceae families, for Proteas it is usually best to avoid fertilisers containing phosphorus, avoid excessive feeding. Prune off flower heads to keep bushy and promote new flowers.
There are relatively few insect problems, but fungal diseases (eg. root rots, leaf spots) can be serious particularly in wet soil or humid conditions.


Who will this course help?

This course will help people who wish to start growing Proteas as cut flowers or to start a nursery and sell potted plants. Landscapers and horticulturists working in landscape maintenance will benefit from finishing this course. Students learn about the different varieties of Proteas and their cultural requirements, the pests and diseases and varieties which are used in cultivation.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

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