Protea: unconventional beauties

Proteas are all about flower power and staying power. From a lineage of some of the oldest of plants on earth dating back to a time before dinosaurs became fully evolved, proteas, with their prehistorically edgy and unconventional appearances, are flourishing in the cut flower industry today.

Demand for them by the floral trade has risen in the past 20 years from near obscurity to being must-haves in bouquets and arrangements for weddings, special occasions, holiday decorations, and personal gifts of appreciation and love.

Varieties of the popular Proteaceae family, however, are presently only best grown in a number of select places in the world, and the hill country around Fallbrook and Rainbow is one of those areas.

The right combination of Mediterranean climate conditions here: full sun, mild winters, good air circulation, and sandy, somewhat acidic, well-draining soil are all components that encourage proteas to produce their intriguing flowers.

According to Diana Roy, flower farmer, business manager and creative director of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, located in Rainbow, protea flowers are truly unique in the floral kingdom.

“I have been involved with the growing of Proteaceae plants for more than two decades, and I still love them. They are incomparable, and there are just so many amazing varieties that they are never boring,” Roy said.

“Proteas produce flowers and foliage which are each very different and have exotic shapes, and they are colorful—they come in rich jewel tones of nearly every color of the rainbow. Added to that, they can last for up to three weeks as cut flowers. That makes proteas great floral choices for almost every occasion,” she said.

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