Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants. The family Proteaceae to which proteas belong is an ancient one among angiosperms.
Evidence from pollen fossils suggests Proteaceae ancestors grew in Gondwana, in the Upper Cretaceous, 75-80 million years ago.
The Proteaceae are divided into two subfamilies: the Proteoideae, best represented in southern Africa, and the Grevilleoideae, concentrated in Australia and South America and the other smaller segments of Gondwana that are now part of eastern Asia.
There are three categories of traits that has to be considered before developing a new cultivar. The yield or production capacity of the cultivar has to be considered.
The ease of handling and packaging of the cut stems and the last category is to consider the perceived market value of the cultivar.
The cultivation of a Protea plant is time-consuming and therefore good planning when developing the cross combinations and goals is of great importance of the breeding programme.
Some Protea flower species, like the King Protea flower, are self-pollinating flowers. Other Protea species, however, like the Protea Cordata, Protea decurrens and the Protea scabra are self-incompatible and thus rely on cross-pollination for successive seed set.
The main vectors responsible for the transfer of pollen in Protea cultivation are birds, insects and wind.
There are some Protea species which exhibit both self-pollination as well as cross-pollination as a method of reproduction.
Cross-pollination is however preferred as a method of reproduction because it provides genetic diversity in the population.
The ideal time to plant protea seeds is in fall or spring because that is the time of the year in which the difference between the day and night temperatures is about 12 degrees Celsius.
For best results, plant the seeds in a plastic seedling bag which is filled with slightly acidic soil mixture (pH=5.5).
The mixture made by combining river sand, decomposed pine needles, and perlite in the ratio 2:2:1. Use boiling water and a fungicidal solution (Jeyes fluid) to destroy the fungus, eggs, and larvae that might be harmful for the seeds.