Shrew Exotic Proteus
Protea is a plant whose affiliation with exotics can be judged at a glance. A favorite of florists, this outlandish representative of the Protein family is able to become the highlight of the room and garden collection. Spiky multi-colored heads of inflorescences of enormous size are spectacular, the foliage is original. And although it is not easy to grow a many-sided protea, and there are not so many options for agricultural technology, even in room and greenhouse culture, it will have time to show all its bright personality.
Exot with a non-standard appearance and its representatives in garden and indoor culture
Succulents from the Protein family with a non-standard appearance, water-storing leaves and underground organs conquer flower growers all over the world with non-standard flowering. The "spiky", bold-looking heads of inflorescences resemble either artichokes, giant thistles and burdocks, or bottle brushes, but in color and exotic they will more than give odds to any other plant. Proteins are far from easy to grow crops, but they will also become the most original touch in the collection of plants, and then replenish the collection of the most original dried flowers.
Protea (Protea) - a genus of plants of the Protein family. Type species of the genus - Protea artichoke (Protea cynaroides).
Proteins combine stiff oblong-oval (less often linear or needle-shaped) leathery leaves with capitate inflorescences reaching 5 to 30 cm in diameter. Inflorescences are surrounded by a thick wrapper, they are not flaunted by small flowers, but by surprisingly unusual bracts. Cone-shaped, with protruding needle-shaped “petals”, they are distinguished by the original alternation of colors, and unusual different forms of bracts and sepals, and sweet nectar, attracting honey plants and hiding inside the “heads”.
Proteins are not just diverse - they are inimitably diverse. It is not by chance that this culture even got its name in honor of the son of Poseidon Proteus, who is able to take on any guise. In their homeland, in Australia and Africa, where proteas are found literally at every step, these plants really boast an extraordinary variety. In our country, proteas are represented by a much more modest number of species.
The main representative of Proteus in our climate is protea artichoke (Protea cynaroides) Its inflorescences in diameter reach 30 cm. The capitate inflorescences are not only large, but also spectacular. They are made of motley original wrappers from bracts, painted in different colors. At home, this protea is known under the name "pot of honey": its nectar is used as a unique healing remedy for cough. White, pink, orange, yellow, lilac tones of OXRs in Proteus are sometimes combined in the most variegated variations.
Also rarely seen on sale:
- large-headed protein (Protea coronataformerly known as macrocephala) with bright large heads, decorated with peculiar stripes of wrappers;
- Proteus creeping (Protea repens) with lying shoots, finer foliage and smaller "prickly" balls of inflorescences.
The use of protea in floriculture
Protea is one of the most original plants for winter bouquets. When drying the inflorescences, the Proteus heads retain their shape well and practically do not change color. They can be considered as one of the exotica dried flowers with a long shelf life.
Protea also looks great in live bouquets. Given the frequent change of water and good lighting, its inflorescences can stand longer than any other flowers. Today, this plant is recognized as one of the most fashionable for wedding bouquets. The undoubted advantage of Proteus is the ability to make compositions intended as a gift to men.
Proteus Growing Strategy
As a perennial, Proteus can be grown only where there is no frost in winter. In the middle lane, this plant is not grown in open soil, even as an annual. The only option is the cultivation of Proteus in room and greenhouse culture. Indoors, under the condition of a cool wintering, Proteus can be stored from year to year. And if there is no opportunity to arrange a suitable wintering, then in room culture, Proteus can be grown as a summer tree, discarded after flowering.
Required plant conditions and care parameters do not differ for Proteus growing as a houseplant, and for beautiful women growing in the winter garden.
Lighting for Proteus
Protea is a photophilous plant. But the colors of inflorescences, the brightness of tones are adversely affected by direct sunlight. Therefore, for Proteus in the conservatory or room, you need to select bright, but scattered locations. For the flowering of this exotic, lighting stability is critical: on cloudy days and in the cold season, the plant is recommended to be illuminated with special phytolamps (or fluorescent lamps).
Proteins are thermophilic cultures. And it is precisely their extreme sensitivity to jumps in conditions, the need to grow at stably hot temperatures that does not allow them to grow in the soil, even as a summer with a short growing season. In the warmer months, from spring to mid-autumn, proteins need temperatures from 20 degrees Celsius (within room temperatures or hotter).
The winter regime of the content of protea should provide for a sharp decrease in air temperature. Proteins should winter in cool, at a temperature not lower than 5 degrees of heat, but also not higher than 10 degrees. Without a cool wintering, the protea will not bloom again and the plant is easier to throw away, replacing it with new seedlings.
For Proteus, not only the temperature regime is important, but also good ventilation. This plant can not grow with stagnation of air, needs a constant influx of fresh air and regular ventilation of the room. Proteus is not afraid of drafts, the plant cannot be taken out to fresh air in the middle lane (except for a glazed balcony or loggia, a glazed patio).
Watering and humidity
Watering can be called the most difficult in the care of proteas. This plant is extremely sensitive to waterlogging of the soil and does not respond well to too abundant watering. Procedures for Proteus should be moderate. It is better to carry out frequent, but scarce watering, than to greatly saturate the soil with moisture. But the drought tolerance of the protea, which it manifests in the soil in regions with warm winters, almost completely loses culture in indoor culture. The earthen coma for the proteus cannot be completely dried out, just letting the soil dry in the upper layer and partially on average. The winter regime of irrigation can not be called scarce: they only watered a protein at the dormant stage only once a month.
You should carefully approach the choice of water for irrigation. Only soft and acidified water is suitable for protea, into which a few drops of lemon juice or citric acid are added at the tip of the knife.
One of the best qualities of a capricious protea is a love of dry air. This plant will not only not need spraying, but also any humidification of the air will not affect the attractiveness of inflorescences too well. Moreover, Proteus loves hot air and is not afraid of being placed next to heating appliances.
Fertilizers for Proteus
Fertilizing for this crop is not necessary, with the exception of rare procedures aimed at restoring soil acidity. By adding half the standard dose of fertilizers for rhododendrons or azaleas to the water for irrigation once every 1-1.5 months, you can maintain stable soil characteristics and supplement with acidified water. There are other strategies:
- in the active period of development, proteas are fed three times a reduced dose of nitrogen fertilizers or special mixtures for azaleas with a frequency of 1 time per month;
- system feeding is replaced by the introduction of a full portion of fertilizer in the early spring, a month after transplanting and another feeding after the flowering begins.
Proteus cannot tolerate an excess of nutrients: they are used to poor soils and such preferences do not change in a greenhouse or room culture.
The pruning procedure as such for this plant is not carried out. But after flowering, you need to cut the inflorescence yourself and shorten the shoots by 5-10 cm.
If the protea grows strongly, its branches are shortened by a quarter to a third of the height in spring (before transplantation).
Transplant and substrate
Proteins need frequent transplants. Young non-flowering plants are transplanted annually, in classical terms. In early spring, they change the capacity to a large one and keep the whole earthen lump except for the upper contaminated layer. Adult flowering proteas should be transplanted only when the plant completely fills the roots with an earthen lump.
Capacities for proteas are chosen in the same way as for most succulents. This culture is more suitable for shallow and wide flowerpots.
The soil for protea must be selected very carefully. A plant, accustomed in nature to dry and poor soil, in a room and greenhouse culture should not grow quite in the usual substrate. Ideally for proteas, an earth mixture of equal shares of horse peat, pine needles and sand or a ready-made substrate for rhododendrons and azaleas is suitable. The key characteristics of the soil are drainage, rough texture and acid reaction (pH from 5.0 to 5.5).
Diseases and pests
Protea, even in the greenhouse, and not just in room culture rarely gets sick. A plant can only suffer from:
- late blight, which is better to fight with fungicides;
- chlorosis arising from improper selection of water for irrigation.
Getting new Proteus and self-growing these plants requires diligence and patience. The thing is that the seeds of protea (and beauty can be propagated only by them) are not found on sale so often, and the plant blooms 5-6 years after sowing. If the wait is not for you - look for ready-made seedlings of Proteus.
Seeds are sown in the classic terms for pilots in March-April. As a substrate, it is better to use a mixture of peat and sand in equal proportions. They are buried only to a depth equal to twice the diameter of the seeds themselves, and covered with sifted soil. It is not worth watering the substrate before the seeds are scattered: after covering it with soil, they need to be very carefully moistened with a spray bottle, covered with glass or film and placed in a favorite temperature range from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. The process of emergence of shoots is very long: the first shoots will sprout only after 5-6 weeks. The only way to accelerate germination is to carry out cold stratification. For her, seeds can be sown in wet sand and placed for 2 months at a temperature of 7-8 degrees Celsius (the refrigerator is perfect).
It is advisable to remove the shelter from the crops immediately after emergence. When 2-3 leaves appear, proteas need to be transplanted into individual containers. Throughout the entire growing period, proteas are very carefully irrigated so that the drops do not fall on the sprouts themselves and the substrate is only slightly moist (but does not dry out).
Increasingly, the Pruning method is recommended for Proteus: cuts of the stem up to 10 cm long are rooted under the hood, provided that it is well lit and planted in a slightly damp peat-sand substrate.