Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

PROTEA nitida

Image of Protea nitida

John Rickard

Family

Proteaceae

Botanical Name

PROTEA nitida

Plant Common Name

Protea, Waboom, Wagon Tree

General Description

This is a South African shrub with many uses, both functional and ornamental. In Africa waboom was traditionally used to tan leather, make ink, and construct wagon brake blocks and wheel rims, but this compact protea is also an ornate small tree with large, ivory flowers and pleasing blue-green foliage. It is native to the dry slopes and screes of South Africa where it often attains a gnarled, picturesque habit. In its native habitat, it has become adapted to cyclical fall brush fires followed by winter rains.

Waboom bears long, oval leaves that are leathery and fully evergreen. They emerge opaque magenta but mature to a pale seafoam or pale silvery blue-green. Large, greenish white flowers bloom at any time of year in subtropical climes but appear most heavily in fall and winter. Each blossom opens from a tidy bud that opens to an impressive flower with quill-like stamens of creamy whit. These tend to flop and scatter and create quite a mess. The long-haired fruits are shed 9 to 12 months later.

Grow waboom in full sun and gritty or rocky soil that is well-drained, not overly fertile and has a relatively neutral pH. Wild plants thrive where summers are hot and dry and winters moist, so ensure plants have enough moisture in the winter months and not too much in summer. Fertilizers containing phosphorous will damage proteas, so refrain from using them. Waboom makes a fine specimen tree for hillside plantings or rock gardens where the climate is mild and dry. Its flowers are long-lasting when cut.

Propagate waboom from seed. Sow seeds in midwinter; germination occurs when nights are cool and crisp and days pleasantly warm.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    10'-16' / 3.0m - 4.9m

  • Width

    8'-16' / 2.4m - 4.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Fall, Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter, Indeterminate

  • Native To

    South Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Yellow, Light Green, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    White, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Sea Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Sea Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Sea Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Sea Green, Blue Green

  • Bark Color

    White, Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Double, Semi-Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No