Saturday, June 14, 2014

Protea Repens - Sugarbush

Protea Repens are a species of protea that are widely grown due to their hardiness and versatility.  They can be grown in a wide range of environments and are famous for being the first protea ever to be grown outside of South Africa, their native environment.  

We planted some Protea Repens around four years ago now, and are just starting to be able to pick the flowers in useful numbers.  They've been slow to establish but I blame that on lack of experience and the fact that we planted them in summer - certainly not something we'd do now.  Planting proteas, I have learned from experience, is best done during the winter months.  But nevertheless, they have begun to really grow well now, and I'm certainly enjoying the stunning flowers they are beginning to produce.

Protea Repens is commonly known as Sugarbush.  This is because of the large amounts of nectar that the flower can produce.  The whole flower has an appearance of being waxy or shiny, due to the stickiness of the nectar.  It has no fringing or fur like many proteas have, and it has more elongated or geometric look to the flowers.  It naturally occurs in a range of colours from white or very pale yellow through to pink and red.  We bought red Repens, but have found as they've started flowering that we have some pinks and even one or two yellow forms.  

In the photo above, you can see the shiny quality that the flowers sometimes have.  It also shows the difference in colour between a red Repens and a pink.

The Protea Repens really stand out in a bouquet with their pointed petals splaying out.  As they open the central mass is revealed.  The two flowers on the left and centre have white centres and the flower at the bottom right has a red central mass.  Having bought plants of all one colour, I'm still to find out if the flowers are different due to conditions or genetics. Its nice to have a variety though!

In South Africa, there are Repens that flower throughout the seasons, depending upon their origins.  Mine flower in autumn and into winter.  It's lovely to have such a cheery flower blooming at this time.  As you can see in the above picture, the red Repens really stand out with their intense cheery colour.  

The delicate pink tinting on the lighter coloured Repens accentuates the pointed triangular tips of the flowers.

Such a pretty flower! 


  1. Indeed very versatile, in South Africa we have a number of folk songs about the sugarbush (suikerbossie) wich is also used as a term of endearment for young women. I have had great success in planting seeds although I find that with the lighter colours the flowers are not necessarily the same colour as the motherplant. For the Sugardaddy and the lighter colours I find cuttings wor better. Your flowers look very healthy and are beautiful Grace

    1. Hi Kemp, thanks for your kind words. In future I'd like to do some propagating so I value your tips! We ordered all red Repens, when we bought the plants from a protea nursery. The range of colours we ended up with is a little puzzling, but I do love the yellow ones. I think I'd like to try propagating some more of those.

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