Clubs of America | May 05, 2017
Your Flower of the Month is the Hawaiian Pincushion Protea. These flowers, native to South Africa, are aptly named, as they resemble a pincushion with many pins sticking out from the core of the flower.
The Pincushion Protea for these bouquets are grown on the cool wind-swept slopes of Mount Haleakala on the Island of Maui, as well as on the southern slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii. These areas replicate the cool conditions found in their native ancestral South African habitat. Because Hawaii is in the Northern Hemisphere, they bloom in the opposite time of year than their African ancestors.
One of the best characteristics of the Pincushion Protea is its well-known ability to stay healthy and happy after being cut. Being hardy flowers from a cool climate, they also travel well in the winter months — making them an ideal bouquet for this time of year in the United States. You can anticipate longer-than-expected beauty from these flowers if you follow the care tips at the right.
The Pincushion Protea’s lineage is noted as Leuco-spermum Cordifolium of the family Proteacae. The genus Protea is named for the Greek God Proteus, who could assume many shapes at will.
Actually a family of shrubs having unusual and beautiful flowers, the extended protea family encompasses many different members. But the most exotic of all is the Pincushion. They are extraordinarily colorful and many admirers say these blooms are reminiscent of sea urchins.
Native to a relatively small area in South Western Cape, Africa where acidic, nutrient-poor soils are found, they thrive in well-drained soil. Protea need not only a well-aerated soil, but also a cool root system, which is vitally important. Somewhat difficult to grow, they are quite susceptible to root rot.
Today they are grown widely in South Africa, Hawaii and Australia. They are a “social plant,” meaning that in their natural habitat they are found growing very close to one another. This closeness provides protection from harsh winds, keeps the soil cool, and prevents evaporation. All members of the Protea family are used extensively in exotic arrangements world wide.
Nectar-feeding birds are drawn like magnets to the Protea, which is why these flowers are found in so many of the world’s most renowned botanical gardens.
SPECIAL CARE & HANDLING OF YOUR PINCUSHION PROTEA
1) Your favorite Flower of the Month Club recommends immersing your Pincushion Proteas in room temperature water for a few minutes when you first unwrap them.
2) When arranging, remove all foliage that will fall below the water line of the vase. Cut off one-quarter to one-half inch from each stem, being careful to avoid damage. Use a very sharp knife, with the cut made under running water or submerged in water. Immediately place the stems in the water-filled container.
3) In all cases, the water should be just barely warm, a slightly higher temperature than your own body temperature. For longest vase life, replace the water every two to three days, and re-cut all stems.
4) If a stem appears to need a little lift, revive it by recutting the stem (again, under warm water), and then laying the entire flower in that same warm water. When revived (about thirty minutes), you can return it to your arrangement.
5) Keep flowers away from drafts and sources of heat. Do not refrigerate. These flowers prefer a cool, dark environment at night.