- 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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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 3/24/2014 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 3/26/2014 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 3/8/2014 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 3/10/2014 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 3/12/2013 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 3/13/2013 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 4/12/2010 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 4/13/2010 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 11/3/2009 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 11/4/2009 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 10/7/2009 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 10/9/2009 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 10/5/2009 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 10/12/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Is my Tree Fern dead?
My Tree Fern (I 've had for 9 years- about 4 ft tall) lost all of its fronds after this last winter. I was told to pull out the blackened fronds and water it daily which I have done, but to no avail. Is it dead or is there some other action I can take ?Asked on 6/20/2009 by bernard chapman
A:Hello there, It is difficult to tell if it is dead as they often take several months to respond by sending out new fronds. They are not quite hardy so it may have been killed off by the very cold winter. You should avoid tampering with the crown too much as this is where the new fronds emerge, but you can often very gently feel if there are new fronds developing. If fronds die back in cold weather, they should be cut off at their base, but not right into the crown. For now, I would carry on watering (making sure the whole stem is watered and not just the soil around the base of the stem) and wait and see what happens over the next couple of months. I hope it recovers for you. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 6/22/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Should I cut the fronds off my Tree Fern now?
Can you please give me some advice on my Tree Fern? I have covered it with straw to protect it from the frost but can't remember if I am supposed to cut the fronds back. Can you advise me please?Asked on 11/30/2005 by Denise Rigby
A:Tree ferns are hardy down to -10 degrees centigrade, but the foliage starts to die back when it gets back to minus 2. Having said that, mine has had snow on it several times without any problems at all. With this in mind, I think it is best to leave the foliage on over winter, unless you live in a particularly cold part of the country, then in spring any brown fronds can be removed when you see the new ones starting to emerge from the crown.Answered on 11/30/2005 by Crocus
Q:Will two layers of fleece harm my tree fern?
I have just wrapped up my Tree Fern for winter only after I'd done it I realised I had used two sheets of fleece together. Will this hurt the plant?Asked on 11/19/2005 by Joanna
A:As fleece is porous, I wouldn't worry too much if you had two sheets together as water and air will still be able to move through it.Answered on 11/21/2005 by Crocus
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