‘Hardy Tree Fern, Soft Tree Fern, Australian Tree Fern, Tasmanian Tree Fern’
The botanical name Dicksonia antarctica derives from:
Dicksonia – named in honour of James Dickson, 1738-1822, a British nurseryman.
antarctica – ‘southern’, or from the Antarctic regions.
Common names for the species include ‘Hardy Tree Fern’, ‘Soft Tree Fern’, ‘Australian Tree Fern’, and ‘Tasmanian Tree Fern’.
(See over wintering)
The condition in which Dicksonia antarctica thrives is in filtered sunlight, loose well drained soils with lots of organic matter and plenty of water. However, this species can still withstand some drying out and can survive in drier conditions. The older the plant the more tolerant it will be to drought. An exposed site will dry plants out more quickly so semi-shade is preferable. Plants in full sun or watered less frequently often result in the development of shorter fronds.
If preferred Dicksonia antarctica can be grown as a pot specimen. Again, plant as shallow as possible, but remember when picking up the pot that the log will fall out if not held upright. After about 1 year, roots should appear from the bottom of the pot. The plant can then be re-potted into a larger container.
The most important maintenance of your Dicksonia antarctica is regular watering. At sizes less than 1ft this should be several times a week and daily for the first summer to establish a good root system. Do not spray directly in the ferns crown (top) as in colder weather this may encourage rot. Instead soak the whole trunk, angling the hose from below, the wetter the better.
For plants in containers feeding is necessary after the first year, a small dose of a general purpose fertilizer such a growmore, or fish blood and bone will be adequate. This is less important for plants growing in the ground.
There are three main strategies for providing winter protection to tree ferns: keeping them in a conservatory all year round; overwintering small plants in a protected environment; and protecting larger plants outdoors in situ.
Overwintering smaller plants carefully is important as they are more prone to die if frosts are heavy. Where possible it is advisable where possible to bring any plants 2ft or less into a cool conservatory, greenhouse, or even a shed, where temperatures will be higher. It is also desirable to cover the plant with fleece on those nights with hard frosts for added protection, but remember to continue water the trunks once or twice a month.
The easiest way to propagate new plants is spore cultivation. This may sound very scientific but is in fact a fairly simple but lengthy process. Taking approximately 2-3 years for small plantlets to be produced. Click here for our simple 5 step process to cultivating ferns from spore.
With the dramatic rise in tree ferns popularity over the last decade there are more businesses than ever selling plants. We have two pages designed to help you get the right plant from a nursery in your area.
Firstly you need to decide whether you are going to invest in a mature trunked specimen or nurture a young plant. Visit our guide to buying tree ferns for information on selecting the right fern.
Once you have decided what size of plant you want visit our where to buy page for information on ferns stockists in near you.
Please also visit our sponsors below, they help us keep the site running!
Family Name: Cyatheaceae.
Common Names: Hardy Tree Fern, Soft Tree Fern, Australian Tree Fern, Tasmanian Tree Fern
Position: Partial to full shade.
Soil: Humus-rich, neutral to acid soil.
Growth Rate: Slow.
Eventual spread: 6m.
Max Height: 10m (6m Cultivated).
Hardiness: Half Hardy – they are hardy down to -10°C and the foliage is hardy to -2°C.
Winter tips: Protect crown from frost by insulating with straw bound chicken wire.
Summer tips: Keep plants moist, water daily during the hotter periods.