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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 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 recent years, helped no doubt by it frequent appearances
in many of the television garden makeover programmes.Varieties of tree ferns to grow in the UK

Tree ferns can roughly be divided in hardy and non hardy when growing in the
UK. It is likely there are up to a thousand species of tree fern, with most
of them growing in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics. Many of these are
not a all cold hardy and it would be very difficult to grow them successfully
outside in the UK. The two main cold hardy types for our climate are called:
Cyathea and Dicksonia. The most commonly available of these are: Cyathea spinulosa,
Cyathea australis, Cyathea dealbeta, Dicksonia Antarctica, Dicksonia fibrosa
and Dicksonia squarrosa.

Different sizes of tree fern and where to buy them

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 worldPsychology Articles, 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.

Article Tags: Tree Ferns, Tree Fern

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David Howlett co-runs a gardening website called
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