Guide to Growing Tree Ferns
IntroductionTree ferns have been around since prehistoric times when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Originally popularised by the Victorians, the tree fern has undergone something of a revival in rec...
Tree fern are available as plants that have been propagated from spores and
complete trunks that have been harvested from rain forests or tropical areas
of the world, often as a by-product of other activities. You can usually buy
them at garden centres or specialist nurseries. The trunks are often sold without
fronds straight from the container and the fronds will start to appear after
a few weeks. Expect to pay more if you want to buy a tree fern with fronds.Choosing a position for a tree fern
Tree ferns prefer to grow with some shade. They will adapt to a sunny position
but will need very regular watering and may suffer from sunburn to the fronds.
So ideally you need to pick a spot in the garden with some shade during at least
part of the day. Ferns also like a moist surrounding and tree ferns really need
watering every day during the warmer months especially inside and down the trunk.
They will grow equally happy in containers but again will prefer a shady spot.How to plant tree ferns
Tree ferns don't need a rich or deep soil. They will survive happily even
in very poor or stony soil. Ideally a slightly acid soil (adding ericaceous
compost will help) is preferable and a light dressing with blood and bone meal
will give the plants plenty of food to start them off. If you've purchased
a smaller plant just dig a hole big enough for the root ball. Tree fern trunks will need a hole slightly bigger than the trunk and 4 to 6
inches deep depending on the length of the trunk. Plant them and firm them in
but make sure they are upright then the weight of the trunk will keep it stable.
After a few weeks it will make its own roots to secure itself.Feeding the plant
The tree fern will need feeding from time to time. If you have planted it in
the shade under a canopy of larger tree your tree fern will extract some nutrients
from the decaying leaf-fall. They will still need some extra feed and one of
the best around is one called Maxi Crop. Maxi Crop is made from seaweed; it
is easily available and contains a good range of nutrients and minerals. Follow
the manufactures instructions for the dilution and feed well at least every
two months.Surviving the winter
Generally Cyathea and Dicksonia are the hardiest of the most commonly available
tree ferns. They are naturally evergreen and should survive quite happily through
a normal winter. Before the worst of the winter starts you will need to place
a wedge of straw down the centre of the plant (where the fronds grow from) to
keep the worst of the frost out.
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