A growing guide for Tree Ferns – Dicksonia antarctica
As with all ferns, choose a position in dappled shade away from strong winds, especially important with Dicksonia as their fronds can be over 2m long. Plant in fertile moisture retentive soil and keep moist. Don’t worry if you can only find a sheltered spot and the soil is poor, the important thing is that you add good compost to improve the intended planting position.
If you are purchasing a Dicksonia log extra care must be taken to help establish your tree fern. It’s a common misconception that Dicksonia don’t have roots, in fact all the outer material of a ‘log’ or ‘trunk’ is root matter and once planted the ‘log’ will readily root out into the ground. It’s lucky for us that Dicksonia tolerate this treatment and are able to cope with having the majority of their roots cut away.
Incidentally the reason we have there ‘logs’ is because they are harvested from sustainable forestry plantations that are environmentally regulated, the tree ferns being a bi-product of the timber industry.
As with all plants we recommend adding a really good compost to the planting hole and surrounding soil. As your ‘log’ will root directly from the sides of the base, it’s only necessary to bury the trunk enough to stop it falling over.
I always stake newly planted Dicksonia to stop them falling over, after all, they are not cheap so why bury lots of expensive trunk in the ground when a stake will suffice.
Once planted it’s important to keep the crown and trunk moist with regular watering or misting. I like to water mine initially with a dilute seaweed-based fertilizer. This helps strengthen the tree fern and aids rapid root development. I then continue to feed this way monthly through the growing season. If you live in colder parts of the British Isles it’s best to consider winter protection too. Simply wrapping the trunk and fronds should be sufficient, please see our winter protection guide.
I think it’s important to remember that Dicksonia antarctica are naturally evergreen so don’t be too keen to remove older fronds, best to let nature take its course and allow older fronds to hang down alongside the trunk as they would naturally, holding humidity near the aerial roots. I know some of you will think this is scruffy but please relax and let your tree grow as nature intended. It will reward you with spectacular growth each year.
For any further information about your Tree Ferns, please either call us on 01903 891466 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to help.