Protea, which belong to the Proteaceae family of flowering plants, are found almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Scientists have traced the origins of these flowers back more than 300 million years to the time of the Gondwanaland supercontinent, before it slowly broke up to form Africa, South America, Australia, India, Antarctica, and smaller terrains like the islands of New Guinea and New Zealand.
In 1735, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named the flowers "Protea" after the legendary Greek Sea God Proteus, who could change his form at will. Many people believe it is unlikely that he realized the appropriateness of his name choice. Although they share common characteristics like strength, durability and longevity, the over 1,400 varieties of Protea differ widely in size, shape, hue and texture.
CARING FOR FRESH PROTEA
When cared for properly, fresh cut Protea have a very long vase life.
- Trim 1/2 to 1 inch from stems and put them in water immediately. Be sure to remove any leaves that may come in contact with the water.
- Place your Protea in an area away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to enjoy the longest possible vase life.
- Protea are very thirsty, especially during the first several days. Be sure to check your vase frequently and replenish the water as needed.
- Leaf discoloration in some Protea is very natural. Removing these leaves will in no way detract from the beauty and quality of the flowers.
- Pincushions sometimes end up looking a litttle dehydrated after shipping. To revive them, place the entire flower and stem into a sink of cool water for a few minutes after trimming the stem. Then lightly shake before placing the stem in your arrangment. Do this ONLY with the Pincushion variety of Protea.
Protea don't die—they dry—and may be used to create stunning arrangements. Some people simply remove the water from the vase and allow the bouquet to dry naturally. Others hang the flowers upside down—individually or in small bunches—in a dark, well-ventilated area. In two to three weeks, the bright colors of the Protea will soften to more muted shades. If you like, you can spray them lightly with hairspray or lacquer, which gives them a shine and helps to preserve them.