The proteaceae are a large family of evergreen plants, usually trees or shrubs, originating from the Southern hemisphere; there are hundreds of species, all adapted to life in environments with very different seasons, where seasons with heavy rains are followed by long periods of drought with high temperatures.
The various species differ greatly from one another; as a general characteristic one can see leathery leaves, of a dark color, which tend to become reddish or yellowish, if exposed for a long time to direct sunlight. The main particularity that has made that the proteaceae were cultivated in the gardens of the whole globe are the fantastic inflorescences; all species of proteaceae produce at the end of winter or spring large inflorescences with an exotic and particular appearance, of the most disparate colors.
Proteacee: The most common species
Rather than more common species we should in fact refer to the genera that are more easily found in Italy; in our peninsula proteaceae have arrived for many years, but are cultivated above all by floriculturists, given the large market enjoyed by the large inflorescences, used in bouquets, both fresh and dried.
For a few years now, some genera have escaped intensive cultivation and begin to find a place in the garden; these are mainly Banksiae, Protee, Hakea, Grevillea and Leucospermum.
The most popular species in Europe are generally those that give rise to medium or small-sized shrubs. In general it is easier to find in our proteaia nurseries well adapted to living in the Mediterranean climate; therefore cultivation is not the most difficult.
In general they are better suited to warmer areas of Italy, with mild winters; but some species can be placed in the ground even where the winter climate is rigid.
They generally prefer sunny, or partially shady locations; in areas with very low minimum temperatures it's advisable to place the shrubs in a sheltered place away from the wind and cold, or cultivate them in a container.
The recommended growing substrate is very porous and drained, with a good percentage of sand or pumice stone, in order to avoid harmful water stagnation.
Watering is provided only during the warm months, when the soil has been dry for a few days; they are not afraid of drought, as long as they do not go too far.