- Position: partial to full shade
- Soil: humus-rich, neutral to acid soil
- Rate of growth: slow-growing
- Hardiness: half hardy (will need winter protection)
A fantastic, tree-like fern with a thick mass of roots that form a trunk and large, up to 3m (10ft) long, filigree-like fronds. These impressive tree ferns are one of the oldest plants in the world and add a touch drama to any garden. They are native to Australia and Tasmania, and since they are slow growing, can take 10 years to grow only 30cm of trunk. Try them in a semi-shaded spot, among ferns and woodland plants, as part of an exotic scheme, or beside water. They are hardy to -10 degrees C, although the foliage may die back at -2 degrees C. They will happily grow in any soil as long as the trunk is kept moist.
Plants may be dispatched without leaf fronds, however these will soon grow back.
- Garden care:As these plants absorb their nutrients through the trunk, water and feed by spraying the whole stem and crown. They are not fully hardy so will need protection in winter. In milder areas you can do this by gently stuffing a few handfuls of fallen leaves into the crown. In colder parts of the country pack the crown with straw before wrapping it with strips of frost fleece, or over-winter it in an unheated greenhouse. As the new growth starts to emerge in spring, the protection should be removed.
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15 Questions | 15 Answers
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Q:When should I feed my tree fern? I've removed the fleece and straw, water regularly and am waiting for new fronds to grow. The tree is situated in a sheltered, shady corner and grew beautifully last year. Thank you.Asked on 30/4/2015 by Banshee from North London
ideally these can be fed during the growing season from late spring to midsummer.Answered on 15/5/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:How long is the trunk on the tree fern you are advertising?Asked on 5/4/2015 by violet from North Dorset
These currently have a stem of around 60cm (24 inches).Answered on 8/4/2015 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:Hi,Can you please tell me how much water my tree ferns need in winter if i put them in an unheated greenhouse with straw and fleece for protection.Thank you.Asked on 28/3/2015 by mrs sylviebo. from Staffs United Kingdom
If you are keeping it in a greenhouse you won't need to cover it with straw and fleece.
I would put it in the greenhouse, and just keep an eye on it and making sure it doesn't dry out every 3-4 weeks.
Hope this helps.Answered on 2/4/2015 by Anonymous from crocus
Q:I have a tree fern about 5 years old it is only producing short ferns as it has grown to a small pointed area can ii take of and flatten top to give a wider areaAsked on 24/3/2014 by Plant mad from Cornwall
It may be that your tree fern has been lacking in water or nutrients, so the crown has been shrinking. You can't cut the top off, but I would make sure that you water and feed it well by spraying the whole stem and crown, as this is where these plants absorb their nutrients.
I have attached a link below to the tree fern feed.
Hope this helpsAnswered on 26/3/2014 by Anonymous from Crocus
Q:I received my Tree Fern by parcel post yesterday & have just unpacked it. ( beautifully packed ). I am not going to plant it for 4_5 days & am wondering if it was grown in the pot it arrived in or whether to expect an unrooted trunk? Please advise.Asked on 8/3/2014 by ferny from Chesham, Bucks.
These Tree Ferns have come in from the supplier in pots but it is a trunk plunged into a pot. Hope this helpsAnswered on 10/3/2014 by Anonymous from Crocus
Q:I want to plant a jurassic border, in a south/west facing plot 7m by 2m with normal loamy soil. I'm a complete newbie so plants that can tolerate benign neglect would be best, what do you reccomend? I'd love a tree fern and understand it would need a bit of love in the winter to keep it warm :)Asked on 12/3/2013 by dinogarden from Hull
The Dicksonia will need some winter protection (please see the notes in 'Garden Care' on the plant page) and it is important that when watering, you drench the whole stem.
There are some other great plants, which are worth considering too. These include...
(you will need to restrict its roots with a barrier)
I hope this gives you lots of ideas.Answered on 13/3/2013 by Helen from Crocus
Q:Help with plants for N/East facing garden
Hi, I have a little problem choosing some plants....... I really like the look and size of the 'Shady Pink' pre-designed corner planting plan, but our problem is that we have a north east facing garden, so we get no sun at all in the winter, and direct sun for only half a day on either side of the garden during the summer. Would this planting plan be suitable for that level of shade? We are actually are buying plants for the entire garden, so we'd need about 6 new shrubs, and maybe a small tree (we were thinking about the Prunus Amanogawa). Could you please help us with a few shrubs that would do well in these conditions? For perennials, we have been recommended; - Geranium Johnson's Blue, Kniphofia, Crocosmia, and Helleborus foetidus. Are these suitable? Many many thanks! Regards, JoseeAsked on 12/4/2010 by Josee Mallet
A:Hello Josee, It is always difficult to give a definitive answer to the shade issue, but looking at the Shady Pink border, the most shade tolerant plants include Anemone hupehensis Hadspen Abundance, Thalictrum aquilegiifolium and Dryopteris erythrosora. If you click on the following link it will take you to all our shade-loving shrubs http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/plcid.1/vid.11/ and for the shade -loving perennials http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/perennials/plcid.2/vid.11/ Of the plants you have listed, the Prunus, Helleborus foetidus, Kniphofia and Crocosmia will be OK as long as there is more sun than shade. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 13/4/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Tree Fern winter care
Hi, I bought a Tree Fern a few years back and it seems to be establishing quite well. I have it in a semi-shaded spot, and I ensure that it is watered and fed regularly. Each year around this time, I protect it for the winter by stuffing straw in the crown, tying up the fading fronds around it and wrapping the trunk in fleece. The only thing is in the spring/summer it tends to produce what I think is a meagre amount of new fronds - 5 or 6 at the most. How can I encourage it to produce a greater number of large and healthy fronds? Also are the fronds prone to wind or sun damage, as the fronds on my tree this year looked like they were burned and shrived at the tips and dry to the touch. Your advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and Regards SteveAsked on 3/11/2009 by Steve Crawford
A:Hello Steve, If the fronds are dry, then it is either getting scorched by too much sun or wind, or it needs more water. I think the key to success is to make sure it can spread its roots, so plant it out in a sheltered part of the garden if it is still in a pot. Also and even more importantly, when you water really soak the whole length of the stem as this is covered by aerial roots - this should be done pretty regularly in summer, but not so the soil below is constantly wet. They do not need much feeding though, so just a top dressing of chicken manure or mulch in spring will do. Finally I live in central London and mine just gets a couple of handfuls of leaves in the crown in autumn and they seem to cope with the weather - including some quite heavy snow at times. I leave the fronds on and only cut them off when new growth emerges each spring. If you live in a colder part of the country then you will need to protect it a little more, but make sure air can circulate and water can get through. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 4/11/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Low maintenance exterior plants for office lightwell
Hello Plant Doctor, Please advise on which evergreen plants would be suitable for a shady lightwell in my new office. Many Thanks, ColinAsked on 7/10/2009 by COLIN WATSON
A:Hello Colin, If you click on the following link it will take you to a selection of evergreen shrubs that can tolerate low light levels. http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/plcid.1/vid.11/vid.228/ I hope this gives you a few ideas. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 9/10/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Dicksonia antartica arrived with no leaves
Hello, Upon receiving my order I was slightly concerned that the Dicksonia antartica arrived without any leaves- I thought that this is supposed to be an evergreen plant? I thought I would wait a couple of weeks and see if any grew but they have not. Please advise. Thank you. GeorginaAsked on 5/10/2009 by Georgina McKelvey
A:Hello Georgina, The fronds of these plants can stay on the plant for 1 year if not cut back in autumn, but will die when the new foliage emerges in late spring. I have a very sheltered garden and I tend to leave mine on until the new ones come out, but as they are are only half hardy, most growers cut off the fronds in autumn. This ensures that the plants can be more easily protected from the winter weather by a layer of fleece or straw. This is a standard practice and does not affect the plants growth at all, but it does mean it looks bare in winter. I have had a look at the photos of yours and can see that it has been cut back, but I can also see crowns in the centre of the top, that will form next years new fronds. I would suggest moving it away from the corner a little as it will not receive any rain where it is at the moment, and making sure when you do water it, that the whole stem gets a thorough soak. I would then expect to see lots of fresh new fronds emerging next year. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 12/10/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
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