The Protea cynaroides brings together a hundred of evergreen shrubs, originating from Africa; produce long erect stems, sparsely branched, rigid and thick, which can reach 100-150 cm in adult specimens; the leaves are elongated, oval or lanceolate, dark green, waxy.
In summer they produce some inflorescences 10-25 cm wide, consisting of many small flowers gathered in the center, surrounded by long colored bracts; protea inflorescences have the most varied forms, some look like large artichokes, or conifer cones. The flowers are produced in small numbers by each plant, but remain flowered for weeks. The bracts can be white, pink, red, orange. P. neriifolia has leaves similar to oleander, and has a curious dark hair on the edge of the rigid bracts; P. cynaroides produces roundish inflorescences, similar to large artichokes, of pink or white color.
These plants are not widespread in our gardens, but they are widely used for cut flowers, also because in the countries of origin the flowers bloom when in our peninsula it is full winter. Over the years the shrubs tend to "empty" in the lower part, and to produce less flowers, it is therefore advisable to prune the plant up to the ground to favor the development of new and more vigorous branches.
Protea cynaroides prefer sunny, or partially shady locations; generally they can withstand temperatures close to zero for short periods; in areas with harsh winters these plants should be grown in large containers, and sheltered in a cold greenhouse during the winter. P. neriifolia appears to be more resistant than other species, tolerating even brief periods of frost without problems.
As for the most suitable type of watering for Protea cynaroides from March to October, it is advisable to water regularly, always waiting for the soil to dry well between one watering and another; during the cold months the plants are satisfied with the rains.
It is important to avoid water stagnation which could damage the plant.
At the end of winter, the plant is given a slow release fertilizer for flowering plants.
Protea cynaroides in nature develop in dry, nutrient-poor, incoherent soils. These plants develop a conspicuous root system, which, for a correct development, need loose and well-drained soils. Universal soil can be used, mixed with high percentages of sand and pumice stone. For growing in pots it is good to choose a very large container, to leave free development to the fleshy roots.
The multiplication of this plant takes place by seed, which the plant produces in large quantities; in summer it is also possible to practice cuttings, taking them from the stems produced during the year. The plants produced from seed take about 4-5 years before they bloom.
Protea cynaroides: Pests and diseases
These plants are quite resistant and are usually not attacked by pests or diseases.