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Tree Ferns look so tropical and lush this time of the year, we love them. 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.

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 to make sure they look spectacular. 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.

There are a number of different varieties of which three are most popular here at Eckards.

The rougher texture of the Bownii
The rougher texture of
the Bownii
Croziers is the name given to the new leaf spirals
Croziers is the name given to
the new leaf spirals

 

Our Most Popular Tree Ferns

Cyathea australis the Australian tree fern is probably the most common tree fern encountered growing up to ten metres high. The radiating fronds are finely divided and may be up to four metres long. They are fast growing and do well in semi-shade to half day sun, adaptable to a variety of soil types and make an ideal garden or container plant. As with most Tree Ferns it likes plenty of water but tolerates considerable exposure to direct sunlight and is more resistant to strong wind than most.

Cyathea brownii is very similar to the Australian but is a much larger growing tree fern. Called the Norfolk Island are also slower growing.

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.

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.

 

Where to plant them

Tree ferns should be planted in a morning sun afternoon shade to a mostly shaded spot where they are protected from midday sun. They grow quite fast depending on care and will quickly form a trunk so consider the space you have for them as they do not like to be moved once established.

Tree ferns will grow in any soil as long as it does not dry out to fast. As a fern they grow the best in rich loamy soil that has a lot of organic matter in it such as leaf mulch.


The Australian Tree fern
The Australian Tree fern
The Tasmanian Tree fern
The Tasmanian Tree fern


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 will help conserve moisture in the soil.

Feed with Seagro or BioGanic 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.

 

New leaves on a Dwarf tree fern - Blechnum
New leaves on a Dwarf
tree fern - Blechnum
Tree ferns develop a trunk
Tree ferns develop a trunk

 

What can go wrong:

  • White fluffy bugs on the stem and along the underside of the leaves. This is Mealy Bug and often effects ferns that are under stress. Spray with ready to use BioKill. Often by correcting what is causing the plant to stress the mealy bug will not return once sprayed.
  • 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 or that the whole leaf crisps up, that is a sure sign of not enough water or humidity.
  • Crown rot can occur on older specimens especially when they to much water directly on the crown (where the new leaves are coming through) Also they like moisture on their leaves irrigation should be around their base for the most part.

 

Looking for something different or to grow a tree fern on a small patio or balcony? Try the dwarf tree fern - Blechnum. They grow well in a container and will even grow well indoors if looked after well.

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