Protea repens is an excellent addition to any wildlife-friendly garden as a large amount of nectar produced by the flowers attracts birds, bees and other insects. The flowers are cone-shaped. The outer bracts are sharply pointed. The color varies from creamy-white to white with pink, to deep red. The plants' flower during the rainy season. This occurs in winter in the west, and in summer in the east. Flowers are therefore available all year round. The best time to sow is in autumn or spring when the difference between day and night temperatures is about 12oC (54oF). Choose the season that gives the protea seedlings the most time to grow under favorable conditions. For example, if your summer is very hot and dry, but your winter is moderate and wet - sowing in autumn will give the protea seedlings a whole winter and spring to become strong before the harsh summer. In colder climates, it is best to sow in spring so that protea plants can become hardy before the frosts of winter. Preparing the Soil for protea seeds Although you can sow protea seeds in seed trays or open ground, we have best results planting each protea seed in a 500 ml plastic seedling bag. Fill the bag with a well-drained acidic soil mixture with a pH of about 5.5. You can make the mixture out of 2 parts coarse river sand, 2 parts peat or decomposed pine needles, and 1 part vermiculite or perlite. It is important that the soil mixture drains well. Water should run right through the filled tray, but the soil mixture should be such that it retains moisture and remains damp between waterings. The seeds and protea seedlings should never be allowed to dry out. The vermiculite helps retain moisture. It helps if the soil mixture is sterilized, ridding the soil of fungus, eggs, larvae, and pathogens that might harm the protea seeds or the seedlings. There are several ways to do this: The simplest method is to drench your soil mixture with '''boiling water''' before planting the seeds. This is best done on a flat, hard surface and has the added benefit of leveling out the soil. The drainage of the seed tray should ensure that after about 15 minutes, the soil is evenly damp. If there are any soggy patches of water pooled on the top, then your drainage is not sufficient. The boiling water kills germinating weed seeds, insect larvae, snail and slug eggs and fungal spores. Another '''fungicidal solution''' is Jeyes Fluid (which is saponified cresol containing a lot of phenol). You can use a dilution of 40ml to 10 liters of water to saturate your seed trays. You need to leave 2 weeks after this treatment, however, before planting your seeds, which is probably a delay you can do without. You can also use this solution on your open ground before transplanting your seedlings - but also leave 2 weeks between treatment and planting. A more '''organic method''' to the above with similar results would be to use plants containing phenols together with blue soap (which supplies the saponin requirement). A solution of Thyme and Sage mixed with Blue soap in warm water gives you an excellent solution with which to sterilize your soil. Instead of the blue soap, you could use the roots of Soapwort. You would chop the roots up, boil them in water and cover the solution for about an hour or more, then strain it and add it to the herbal mixture.