Protea cynaroides ‘Pink King’

king protea
The superlative coastal flowering shrub. Exceptional pink blooms make good cut flowers. Shiny, attractive foliage on serpentine branches. Avoid phosphorus and heavy clay soils.
Protea cynaroides 'Pink King'Protea cynaroides 'Pink King'
height 3–5
width 4–6
tolerates Coast, Cool Summers, Drought, Fog, Pots, Salt, Wind
Proteas are well adapted to our Mediterranean climate, making them carefree plants with bountiful rewards. After a few years, when your protea is established, it will want deep watering every couple weeks, though it will tolerate more if the drainage is excellent.

Protea respond very poorly to clay soils, especially if they are overwatered. If you just have to plant one in your clay garden, mounding or planting on a slope can help. Also amending with liberal minerals such as lava or pumice helps.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Bloodmeal, Fish Emulsion, Low Needs, No Phosphorus
origin South Africa
16, 17, 19–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

The cultivar ‘Pink King’ is grown from cuttings to have a consistent, large, pink flower.
King proteas can be kept smaller by pruning, but don’t prune more than two years of growth, where there are no leaves and stems become woody. Proteas can even be espaliered.
By tip-pinching buds early on (each time they have grown a few leaves), you can force your protea to become more dense. Since they bloom on the terminal buds, this will delay flowering.
Proteas have evolved to live in very poor soils, and so they should never have phosphorus fertilizer, which many a grower has learned the hard way. If you give your protea all-purpose fertilizer, it’ll likely be completely dead within a couple weeks. They do respond well to light acidic fertilizer, such as cotton seed meal, or nitrogen fertilizers such as blood meal and fish emulsion.

Special Interest

One of the most coveted flowers in the gardening world. The king protea grows along the slopes of table mountain, overlooking Cape Town, and is South Africas national flower.