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Grow the best - Tree ferns

Growing a tree fern is a wonderful way to add a sense of the jungle and lushness to any garden. Tree ferns come from Australia, New Zealand and the surrounding islands and are well suited for our climate. They do however need regular watering and the watering needs get higher if they have more sun but there are a few ways to compensate for this as the reward of a perfect specimen can leave the viewer breathless. There are a number of different varieties of which three are most popular here at Eckards.

 

Whichever variety is planted the new croziers which is the name given to the new leaves that unfurl like a large spring are a delight to watch throughout summer. Although they are in fact trees most South African gardeners plant them as a medium sized plant in shady areas removing them when they get too tall. Try them as a feature plant in a shady courtyard or along a shade entrance where you can allow them to grow to full height and you will marvel at the sheer beauty they bring.

 

 

 Cyathea brownii is very similar to the Australis but is a much larger growing tree fern. Called the Norfolk Island tree fern they have a much coarser leaf texture and as mature fronds they can easily have fronds of well over five meters. Slightly more cold tender they also do well in semi-shade and more sun if well watered.

 

 

 

Dicksonia Antarctica or Tasmanian tree fern has the thickest trunk and the most compact growth habit. The fronds only grow about two meters long and will grow in more sun that most tree ferns. It is also the hardiest through winter and although it thrives on water it will handle less that other varieties.

 

 

 

Growing the best

As always soil preparation is the most important thing when establishing a healthy tree fern. Tree ferns like rich soil and by preparing a large hole with as much compost as possible you will have a head start. Include organic pellets at planting and once planted install a thick layer of mulch around the base.

Feed with Seagro or Bounce Back every alternate month and regularly refresh the compost around the base as mulch. The mulch will help with water retention and keeping the soil cooler. When we have a heat spell make sure your tree ferns get water every day, if you notice a slight crisping on the leaf edges that is a sure sign of water shortage.