Tree Fern Care and Growing Guide for Planters

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Tree ferns can be beautiful and elegant plants. These ferns are tree-like and have a thick truck that spreads lance-shaped fronds. They can grow up to 6ft (2m) in length. Two types are popular: the Cyathea and the Dicksonia. They are slow-growing, with the trunk growing only 1-2 inches per year. In order to reach this consistent growth, you have to care for tree fern the right way!

Tree Fern

Tree ferns are good plants to grow in the shade because they are able to thrive in both partial and dense shade. These plants also grow well in damp conditions that mirror their natural environment under tree canopies in forests or woodlands that have humus-rich soil and retain moisture.

These plants can be bought as a seemingly lifeless log without any growth or roots. If planted in spring, they will burst into existence within 2-4 weeks.

Where to Plant a Tree Fern

Tree ferns flourish in moist, damp soil. They can be found in either partial or complete shade and prefer slightly acidic soil and humus-rich soil. The plant will thrive in full sunlight, too, but they need to be watered regularly as they won’t heal well if they aren’t hydrated.

Tree Fern Care When Planting

Tree ferns can be purchased in logs. Simply place the log in a protected area in humus-rich soil about 10 cm deep. It is a good idea to stake the log once it has been established, although it is not necessary. After they are planted, they will need to be watered every day. Water into the crown and give the log a good soak. For the next six months, this should be done at least daily. You can water in winter to keep the soil moist. They can be watered less once established, but they should not dry out. Planting in containers or pots is best done in a mix of 50% ericaceous and 50% multi-purpose soil.

Tree Fern Care in The Winter

They can withstand temperatures as low as -10c but only in very small amounts. Tree ferns need to be protected in winter so that the crown of the plant is not damaged when new fronds are emerging from each spring. Protect the crown against frost in winter.

To protect the trunk, wrap it in garden fleece. Next, tie the string around the fronds. A layer of leaf mound about 2 inches around the trunk’s base will protect it and provide nutrients. Just as spring begins to emerge, the winter protection should be removed around March.

Winter Care for Pot Grown Tree Ferns

You can move pot grown plants into a protected area. To protect roots, wrap the pot with bubble wrap. You can place them in a greenhouse for winter, or bring them into your home to be protected from the sun.

General Tree Fern Care Methods

They are easy to maintain and require little care other than winter protection and constant watering. Cut back to about 15cm from the trunk. Make sure you don’t cut all the way to the trunk. The fronds from their old growth form the trunk. This is essential to ensure a healthy plant. The plant should be watered daily in the Spring and Summer.

Feeding Tree Ferns

It’s recommended that you do not feed the plant for the first year. This is to encourage roots to grow and establish. Feeding will promote top growth and discourage this. Feeding the plant a balanced, multi-purpose liquid feed once every two weeks during the second year is recommended. To encourage new fronds, add granule feed to the trunk’s base in spring. Seaweed-based feeds aren’t too pressing and can be used to great effect by gardeners.

Common Problems 

Although they are usually healthy, some gardeners find that their fronds and trunk are not growing as large or becoming narrower. Lack of water is the main reason for this. Regular watering is crucial to prevent this from happening and keep your plant healthy.

Notes to Remember in Grow Tree Fern and the Right Tree Fern Care

  • Plant in full shade or dense shade, with lots of space for the fronds.
  • When planting, make sure to use humus rich soil.
  • Winter protection is recommended, even though it isn’t always necessary in mild winters.
  • Once the plant is planted, water it every day for six months. Then keep it moist, it should never be allowed to dry out.
Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.