Protea eximia

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Botanical Name
Protea eximia
Proteaceae - The Protea family
PRO-tee-uh eks-IM-mee-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Broad-leaved Sugarbush; Duchess Protea
Afrikaans: Breëblaar-suikerbos; Swartberg Protea
Plant Group
  • Fynbos Certain plants endemic to the areas of the Western Cape of South Africa that have a Mediterranean climate of cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Very large
    TreeOver 25m
    ShrubOver 4m
    Perennial/ground coverOver 1m
    BulbOver 1.2m
    Succulent1.5m to 2m
  • Medium to Large
    Tree15m to 20m
    Shrub2m to 3m
    Perennial/ground cover60cm to 75cm
    Bulb60cm to 1m
    Succulent60cm to 1m
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • Water Moderate These plants will need some extra watering compared to water-wise plants. Plant them together, in at least some shade and in a convenient proximity to the house so that grey water can be utilised during times of drought.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Protea eximia is a large, upright, single stemmed shrub with a lanky, sparsely branched growth habit. The greyish to purplish green foliage consists of smooth, leathery, egg-shaped leaves which have a floury coating. This protea tolerates acidic and alkaline soils and grows in areas with some snow and light frost. It has a wide distribution range, growing in habitats that receive between 380 - 1000 mm of rain annually. It has a life-span of 20 - 30 years and will flower four to five years from germination. 

It is one of the easier proteas to grow and a good species for the beginner and for gardens out of its natural habitat.

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large oblong heads of small tightly packed flowers tipped with purplish to blackish velvety hairs, surrounded by brightly coloured spoon-shaped bracts

  • Winter to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • dark pink
Growth Rate
  • Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Pioneer for new gardens A very fast growing plant, able to withstand hardship, that can be used to populate land that has recently been cleared of natural vegetation. These plants pave the way for slower-growing species by adding nutrients to the soil and creating leaf litter.
  • Provides light / dappled shade A tree with an open to sparse canopy, through which varying degrees of sunlight can penetrate.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
  • Windbreak Trees planted in a row to form protection from prevailing winds by breaking the force of the wind, thereby reducing wind damage.
Distribution and Habitat

from Worcester in the Western Cape to near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, on mountain ranges from 200–1 600 m above sea level, on sandstone slopes, among dense moist fynbos with mild climates to sparse arid fynbos with cold, dry climates

Planting Suggestions

Plant Protea eximia in very well-drained, nutrient poor soil in a sunny, airy position.  They will not grow well in clay soils and will die if their roots are kept wet. If possible plant on a slope or on slightly elevated mound to prevent drainage problems. In the cooler summer rainfall regions try for a north facing slope. Dig a hole twice the width of the container and one and a half times the height. Do not apply artificial fertilizer or fresh manure to the soil mix. Mulch well around the plant but keep the area around the trunk of the plant clear, as the crown of the plant must be able to dry off. Proteas have a dense network of fine roots just below the surface of the soil and no cultivation should take place below them as disturbance will damage the roots and possibly introduce fungal disease, resulting in the death of the plant. The use of a thick mulch of leaf litter and pine bark/needles will feed the plant, keep the soil cool and discourage weeds. Water well throughout the year but particularly during autumn-winter-spring. Always water in the early morning, preferably before the sun has fully risen.   Tip young plants regularly to encourage branching. Remove the spent flower heads immediately after flowering to encourage a more compact bush.

If growing Protea from seed, see this blog:

For more information about growing and care of Protea go to

Most Protea losses are due to fungal diseases and by the time you notice the plant is in stress, it is usually too late to do anything to save the plant. The best control is preventative: water plants early in the morning; keep soil surface cool by mulching; do not over-fertilise, remove diseased plants immediately; do not over water in summer and never disturb the roots. Burn any diseased material.

Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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