He's Pro-Protea

  • 25 October 2018
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 7306
He's Pro-Protea

In a recent Tropical Gardening column in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, former Extension agent Norm Bezona highlights protea flowers. As he comments, “Of all the many floral choices available in the marketplace, none can beat the bizarre yet entrancing beauty of the Protea.” He praises former CTAHR horticulturist Philip Parvin, who directed the Maui Experiment Station and was responsible for expanding protea culture in the Islands. Inspired to explore the potential of a protea industry in Hawai‘i, Norm explains, Parvin sought funding for growing the industry through research and outreach. He worked together with other CTAHR faculty including agricultural engineering professor I-Pai Wu; plant pathologists John Cho, Stephen Ferreira, and Norman Nagata; entomologists Ronald Mau and Arnold Hara; horticulturist Philip Ito; and plant physiologist Robert Paull to solve problems ranging from cultivar selection and nutrition and irrigation needs to control of insect pests and disease to postharvest handling and shipping. They partnered with protea growers who tested varieties, developed marketing strategies, and translated this research into production and product. As he summarizes, “the intriguing Protea blossoms on display in homes and places of business … are the result of concerted efforts by Hawaii’s agricultural scientists and growers working together to develop another fine Hawaii-grown product with tremendous potential.” Proteas tend to grow best in cooler and drier areas in well-drained soils, but even those who don’t want to raise them can still enjoy them as cut flowers. Another noteworthy characteristic of these dramatic flowers, Norm reminds readers, is that they remain just as attractive when dried. So check out some proteas today!