Protea lacticolor

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Botanical Name
Protea lacticolor
Proteaceae - The Protea family
PROH-tee-uh lak-tee-KOL-or
Common Name(s)
English: Hottentots Holland Sugarbush; Hottentot Sugarbush
Afrikaans: Hottentot-Suikerbos; Witsuikerbos; Witsuikerboskan; Hotnotwitsuikerbos
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
  • Large
    Tree18m to 25m
    Shrub3m to 4m
    Perennial/ground cover75cm to 1m
    Bulb80cm to 1.2m
    Succulent1m to 1.5m
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Roots Non-invasive Safe to plant near pools, paving, walls or buildings.
  • 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 lacticolor is a large, shrub or small tree with a single main stem. It forms a slender, neat, erect shape from 2 to 6 meters tall. It belongs to the White Sugarbush group. The leaves are blue-green, hairy when young, with a distinct red margin. Flowers are oblong to funnel shaped and relatively small at 6 to 8 cm long. The bracts vary in colour from cream to pink.

According to the Red List of South African plants, Protea Lacticolor is endangered and decreasing in its natural habitat, with subpopulations occurring at only eight known locations. The habitat is densely invaded with alien pine trees at some subpopulations, while the reason for the decrease in numbers in the northern subpopulations is unknown.


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small, oblong to funnel shaped heads, 6 - 8 cm in length

  • Autumn to Winter Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
  • cream
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.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • 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.
Distribution and Habitat

 in the Western Cape from Bain's Kloof to the Hottentots Holland Mountains, amongst other fynbos and along stream banks, forming dense thickets on moist Cedarberg shale on south and east aspects

Planting Suggestions

Protea lacticolor will grow in neutral, well drained soil.

Proteas need 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, never use any form of animal manure and remove diseased plants immediately; do not over water in summer and never disturb the roots. Burn any diseased material.

Lorraine's Garden Notes

The two specimens in my garden died from old age (about 40 years old), after a prolonged period of drought. About a year later I was delighted when 7 or 8 seedlings came up in the spring of 2010. They have grown quite fast and the strongest flowered this season (February 2013), producing six flowers.

Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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