Botanical Basics: Protea

Hawaiian Flowersmink protea and hala

This week we're starting our 'Botanical Basics' informational series on our favorite plants and flowers.   We find that things are more beautiful and meaningful when they have a story, so our goal is to provide a background for some of our most adored flora. To kick it off we decided to focus on one of our all stars, the protea. So here it goes:

One of our favorite flowers at Paiko, protea are bold and beautiful, often looking like they are from another planet.  Named after Proteus, the son of Poiseiden, true Protea were originally found in Africa, and South Africa remains the only place in the world where they naturally grow in the wild today.

We source all of our protea from upcountry Maui, on the slopes of Haleakala crater.  Protea love the cool climate and volcanic soil of this unique Hawaiian environment.  Up until a few years ago when the Kilauea volcano became very active, the Big Island also was a major source.  Unfortunately the vog from the volcano damages the flowers, so now Maui is the best place for perfect blooms.

 Hawaii Protea Farm upcountry Maui protea farms   

The protea we use most often for designing are pincushions, kings, and minks.  Its amazing they are all from the same family considering their dramatically different appearance.

Pincushion protea kind of look like sea anemone, and are one of our staples at Paiko.  They come in yellow, orange, red, and salmon tones, and work well when paired with sculptural foliage.

Kings are the giants of the protea world.  These massive guys can measure up to 10” across when fully open!  King protea are a statement flower so they look amazing on their own, with a simple accent of curly willow or fishtail palm, or in a loose, romantic, country style arrangement.  A single flower makes a great, easy wedding bouquet, either on its own or with an accent of silver eucalyptus.

Mink protea are feathery beauties that come in shades of pink, white, and green.  One of our favorite Maui varieties is the black tipped pink- so striking!  At Paiko we often pair minks with bold green hala foliage, but they also work very well with the silvery tones of eucalyptus.

King Protea king protea with midori antherium, kimi ginger, mokara orchids, and lycopodium Hawaii Protea pincushions and lycopodium, in a dracaena massangeana lined vase

To keep your flowers lasting as long as possible make sure to change the water often, every day if possible, but once every three days at the minimum. A good tip for keeping your protea or any flowers healthy, is to re-cut ½” from stem at each water change. Mink and king protea normally last around a week before they start to fade, pincushions can last up to three weeks.

More Botanical Basics: Orchids, More Protea: Wild & Pretty King Protea