Prac­ti­cal ad­vice from our gar­den­ing ex­pert.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Advertising Feature -

Q I’d love to be able to grow a protea. Is it pos­si­ble in this coun­try or would the re­sult be a dis­ap­point­ment?

A If you want to, go for it, but be aware that, although proteas are mostly ever­green shrubs and trees, many are only half hardy and will grow out­side in the only mildest parts of the UK. Else­where, they are best grown in large pots and moved in­doors or wrapped in fleece over win­ter.

The plants are named af­ter the sea god Po­sei­don, who sup­pos­edly could change his shape at will; the protea flower comes in an enor­mous va­ri­ety of shapes, sizes, hues and tex­tures and makes up more than 1,400 va­ri­eties.

Af­ter that brief history les­son, it’s down to hard facts – most proteas pre­fer soils that are well-drained and acidic: they don’t like get­ting their roots wet.

They also thrive in the wild in soils that are low in nu­tri­ents, so they can be harmed by fer­til­iz­ers that con­tain nor­mal lev­els of phos­pho­rus. And sun­shine is very much ap­pre­ci­ated.

A good mulch will help things and pro­tect the plant’s fine sur­face roots. And the stems of dead flow­ers can be cut back to soil level.

The best va­ri­eties for gar­dens in the UK are said to in­clude Protea cy­naroides and the Protea scoly­mo­cephala/This­tle Protea. Protea sub­vestita and Protea grandi­ceps are prob­a­bly also worth con­sid­er­ing.

email david1953ov­erend@gmail.com

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