Learn to identify, propagate and cultivate proteas and some of their relatives - as garden plants or cut flowers. For passionate gardeners or professional horticulturists.

Course CodeBHT318
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Became a Protea Expert

  • Learn to propagate and grow proteas as a garden plant or cut flower
  • Start a Protea Business, Work on a Flower Farm or Nursery, or indulge a passion

True Proteas come from Africa.

Many produce spectacular flowers, with great commercial value as garden shrubs or a cut flower crop.
The term “Protea” is sometimes loosely used to refer to any plants in the Protea (or Proteaceae) family; though the scientific name “Protea” is strictly confined to one genus.
Even nurserymen and cut flower growers the world over, may sometimes use the term Protea to refer to related plants in the Proteaceae family, such as Telopeas, Leucadendron and Leucospermum (though strictly speaking they are not Proteas).
This course is primarily concerned with those plants classified scientifically into the genus “Protea”.
The true “Proteas” do share characteristics, with related plants:

  • similar soil and water requirements
  • susceptibility to the same problems
  • other similar cultural needs 
  • sometimes a similar appearance, in foliage and flower.
A plant collection (either pressings or illustrations with written cultural notes etc) is prepared in each lesson, to build your knowledge of different species and cultivars.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • General characteristics of Proteas
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.)
    • Protea Botany
    • One way of Classifying Proteas
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • staking
    • mulching
    • watering
    • feeding (nutrition requirements, deficiencies etc)
    • pruning
    • protection from wind, salt air etc.
    • drainage requirements
    • techniques for providing drainage, etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating this group of plants (cuttings & seed)
    • Propagation of selected varieties, etc.
  4. Most Commonly Grown Varieties of Proteas
    • Protea cynaroides
    • Protea mellifera
    • Protea repens
  5. Pests, Diseases and Problems
    • Protea botany
    • Pest & diseases
    • Drainage problems
  6. Other Proteas to Grow
    • Protea aristata
    • Protea caffra
    • P. coronata
    • P. cedromontana
    • P. compacta
    • P. exima
    • P. grandiceps
    • P. holosericea
    • P. lacticolor
    • P. laevis
    • P. laurifolia
    • P. longiflora
    • P. longifolia
    • P. lorifolia
    • P. pulchra
    • P. punctata
    • P. rubropilosa
    • P. recondita
    • P. speciosa
    • P. stokoei
  7. Making the Best Use of Proteas
    • Reasons for Growing Proteas
    • Proteas for warm climates
    • Hybrids
    • More cultivars for landscaping
    • Foliage affects
    • Harvest and post harvest
    • Dried Flowers
    • Growing Proteas in Containers
  8. Special Assignment - based on one of the following (your choice)
    • How to grow Proteas for commercial flower production.
    • The botanical characteristics and cultivation requirements for a selected Protea culivar.
    • A collection of different Protea cultivars on a budget equal to an average one weeks wage for workers in your country. selection of the varieties to grow, how to establish them in
    • containers, how to maintain peak health throughout the year.
    • Month by month what to do to proteas to achieve and maintain peak health in your garden. You should indicate when to feed, how much & what.....when to prune, and how, when & if to mulch, pest control measures etc.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the taxonomy of Proteas and closely related genera.
  • Describe the cultural requirements of Proteas and related Proteaceae plants
  • Propagate Proteas.
  • Compare a range of commonly grown Protea species.
  • Manage problems including pests and diseases with Proteas.
  • Discuss a range of different Protea species and cultivars.
  • Determine and describe a range of ways to grow and use Proteas; including as a landscape plant and as a cut flower.
  • Discuss a subject related to Proteas in depth.

Tips for Growing Selected Proteas

There are lots of Protea species that have not been widely cultivated in the past; but do nevertheless have great potential. Some of these could be grown as a cut flower; others as an ornamental plant. Some may have advantages over current species because they are more suited to a particular climate (eg. very cold or hot); or more suited to a particular soil type (eg. alkaline or fertile soils), than current cultivars. Here are just some:

P. aristata
• Common Name: “La1.5m tall, 1.5m spread
• Deep pink red flowers 10 12cm diameter in summer
• Leaves are narrow and lighter green; even needle like in appearance
• Foliage has an unpleasant smell
• Frost resistant to minus 7 degrees

P. caffra

A well known tree in parts of South Africa, and while occasionally planted, it is not widely cultivated there.
• Normally a small tree to around 5 metres tall
• The young shoots in spring have attractive pinkish tips
• Flowers occur in summer
• Flowers are scented with a pungent fruity odour
• Very hardy and drought resistant once established
• Needs a warm, sheltered position; but tolerates poor soils
• Commonly occurs on acidic soil, but will tolerate slightly alkaline soils
• Common Name: “High Veld Protea”
A smaller growing cultivar (possibly a hybrid of P. caffra) called P. caffra ‘White Ruby” is cultivated in Australia. It grows to around 3m tall and 1.5m diameter

P. coronata
• An unusual flower with bright green outer bracts that turn inwards at the top, and a white centre
• An upright growth habit to 3m tall.
• Leaves are softer than other proteas with a hairy surface
• Responds well to pruning, has some cut flower value.
• Attracts birds
• Tolerates frosts to about minus 2 degrees Celsius.

P. compacta (Bot River Protea)
• This species has a narrow flower head with pink red bracts which curve inwards.
• Main flowering period is during winter, though flowers can occur virtually all year.
• To 3.5m tall and 2.5m spread,
• Foliage is normally more sparse than other Proteas, hence it requires pruning to form a dense bush.
• Frost resistant
• Several hybrids have been developed which are available in at least Australia and New Zealand
• Has good cut flower potential
• Wind tolerant
• Flower buds are damaged by frosts below -3 degrees Celsius.

P. eximia (syn. P. latifolia; also listed occasionally as P. eximea)
• Comparatively open flower head.
• Flowers are 12 to 30cm diameter
• Usually pink or red flowers with a fringe of white hairs; produced in spring.
• Leaves are short and broad (ovate) and tend to become darker under warm conditions (can have a black or purplish flush).
• Usually to 2 or 3m tall but sometimes up to 5m forming a small tree.
• Generally fairly upright and open (columnar) habit.and 2m diameter.
• Frost resistant.

P. grandiceps (Peach Protea)
• Long flowering shrub (from winter through to summer).
• Leaves and bracts are broad, leathery, and overall distinctively different to most other proteas
• Flower heads are bright red or peach to coral red with a white/cream centre
• A number of different varieties exist varying in both size and flower colour
• Grows easily if in full sun and a well drained soil
• Frost tolerant to minus 7 degrees Celsius
• Long lived
• Attracts birds
• Good as a cut flower

P. laurifolia
• Very similar in appearance to P.neriifolia.
• One of the main differences is that the leaves are greyer with short stalks.
• Can grow to 3 metres tall
• Good as a cut flower
• Bird attractant
• Tolerates heavy frosts, wind exposure and a range of soil types
• Prefers full sun

P. longiflora (syn, P.aurea)
• Flowers around 8cm diameter mid summer.
• Flowers can be either red, pink or yellow/cream
• Flowering can occur all year, but peaks in either winter and/or summer
• To 3m tall and 2m spread, sometimes wider
• Cold resistant
• Common Name –Laidismith Protea

Who Should Study this Course?

Cut Flower Farmers, Gardeners, Nurserymen, Horticulturists, Landscapers

Why Study with Us?
  • Our team of tutors have practical experience with proteas in different soils and climates from Australia to the UK.
  • We have gathered an extensive set of resources, studied and written about proteas for many decades.
  • Our ebook on Proteas is one of the most up to date references available.
  • This is a unique course, with all the flexibility and support you need to develop the expertise needed to make yourself into the protea expert you hope to be.


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Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
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There are around 1700 species and 79 genera of plants in the Proteaceae (Protea) family, and most are indigenous to the southern hemisphere. Around half of these species come from Australia and a quarter from southern Africa.