BOTANICAL BASICS: KING PROTEA

Without fail, anytime our flower bar is stocked with these beauties, people come running. I present to you, the King Protea. 

The King Protea has the largest bloom in the massive protea family. Native to South Africa, they grow as a shrub and bloom most prolifically in the winter. The large "flower" is actually a collection of tiny true flower heads surrounded by colorful bracts that can be white, yellow, red, or the most sought after, pink. 

paiko king protea

Proteas love extreme weather conditions: dry summers and cold wet winters, so your efforts at growing them in Honolulu will be poorly rewarded. But lucky for us, the temperate climate on the high slopes of the Big Island and Maui provide perfect conditions for these artichoke-like bad boys. We work with a handful of small farms to stay stocked.

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Cut the stems at an angle when you get home to get them drinking. Keep your kings fresh with water changes every few days and a floral preservative. Make your own preservative with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, a teaspoon of lemon, and a teaspoon of sugar.

And did mention they dry beautifully? When your arrangement looks tired, hang the kings upside-down to dry (this helps preserve their shape), then enjoy them for years.

image from http://swallowsnestfarm.blogspot.com/2012/05/drying-proteas.html

image from http://swallowsnestfarm.blogspot.com/2012/05/drying-proteas.html

 

Photos by Kenna Reed unless noted
Written by Kenna Reed