Tree Fern Growing Guide – How To Grow, Plant & Maintain

Tree ferns are some of the most elegant and beautiful plants for your unique property development needs. In most cases, these ferns tend to have a tree-like design which comprises of a thick and large trunk with spreading lance-shaped fronds at the top section.

Some trees are known to reach as high as 6ft, and some of the popular types are the Cyathea and Dicksonia. Both of these trees both grow slowly, and they also have distinctive trunk shape growing at an average of 1-2 inches every year.

These types of trees thrive in shady and damp conditions, which is where they are mostly found in their natural environment. More so, these trees also grow in the woodlands whereby the soil humus is potent, and it retains sufficient moisture.

Tree Fern Growing Guide

One of the most amazing factors about this type of plant is that it can be purchased as what seems like a lifeless log, but after some time, a tree grows which is full of life. These trees tend to also thrive under tree canopies in areas such as woodlands and forests, where the soil is rich in humus.

How to plant tree ferns

In most cases, the tree ferns are mostly bought as logs. All you need to do is to plant the log in a sheltered location which is rich in humus and to levels of as much as 10cm deep. While this might not be a caveat, it will go a long way to ensure the log is stable until the tree grows. Once the tree is planted, you might only need to engage in the watering procedure and no other significant farming procedure.

You want to ensure that sufficient water reaches into the crown and and that you also provide the log with sufficient amount of water as well. This procedure has to be conducted as regularly as possible, preferably daily until the tree achieves the appropriate growth goals. During winter, you might also want to maintain the tree in damp soil conditions in relation to what you deem suitable.

Once the tree grows, ensure that it has sufficient water such that it does not become dry.If you plan to plant in a pot or a container, then the tree is best planted in a mixture of compost.

Tree fern winter care

While these trees tend to be frost hardy down to as much as – 10 degrees Celsius, they can only take this type of temperature for so long. For this reason, ensure that you provide your trees with sufficient protection, especially at the crown of the plant and the location where the fronds emerge from each spring as well.
Using a garden fleece, wrap the entire trunk in several layers and always avoid polyethylene.

Following this, place a ball of straw into the central section of the crown, especially where the fronds are found for added protection.

You should then pull the fronds in cohesion and tie them with a robust string. A good recommendation for you would be to add a layer of leaf mound around the base of the trunk for added protection and nutrient delivery.

Protecting pot grown tree ferns in winter

Pot grown plants are easy to move into a sheltered location, and you are recommended to ensure the pot is wrapped in a bubble for optimal protection. These trees can also be position in a greenhouse during the winter or transferred into a conservatory to avoid direct sunlight. At times, the snow falls heavy, and this means that plants often find it challenging to naturally acquire the basic needs for growth and development.

For this reason, you want to protect the plants growing outdoors to avoid causing damage to the fronds. A good recommendation would be to place some straw on the crown and fold the fronds as well. More so, you might also consider the container grown plants, which should be placed in a location with sufficient shelter and with the container bubble wrapped.

Apply this technique also during late October, but ensure that you remove them during spring, especially before the fronds start growing. You might need a significant amount wrapping before you achieve a much more exposed garden.

How to care for tree ferns

One of the main benefits of these trees is that they are simple to care for, and will only require some level of informed decision making. This is especially true during the winter time of the year whereby regular watering is required as the old dead fronds are replaced with lively ones.

A good recommendation would be to cut back to around an average of 20cm from the trunk, to ensure that you cut to the appropriate level. You can also use the old fronds from the main trunk as they grow since this is important for maintaining health.


For the first few months, it is recommended that you proceed with caution when it comes to applying nutrients and supplements for the unique needs of your plant. This is mainly because any mediocre planting techniques might compromise the growth and development of fern tree.

During the second year of development, you can easily use supplements such as the multi-purpose liquid feed, especially during the growing season. During the spring season, you may also add granules around of the base of the trunk, and this will play an important role in encouraging the development of new fronds. A significant portion of gardeners have experienced notable success when it comes to supplementing fern trees, and you should consider this as well.

Tree fern complications

Broadly speaking, these trees tend to grow without any complications. With that being said, one main complication would be when the fronds fail to grow appropriately, and the trunk decreases in size. This is mainly caused due to a lack of water and optimal ecosystem conditions. In this case, ensure that the tree the appropriate basic needs for optimal development.

Container Cultivation

Tree ferns can be grown in containers, and outdoors or in large conservatories or greenhouses that have sufficient light. In addition to this, the location has to have filtered light and adequate humidity, along with using loam based ericaceous compost as well. You may also consider adding as much as 20 percent of the peat free potting elements for optimal humus.

Following this, you should also apply a unique plant supplement to ensure that the plant grows appropriately. The supplement can be applied as much as once a week during the growing season or by adding a controlled release supplement at the base of the plant.


With the appropriate health and development conditions, these particular plants can be propagated from the spores that occur on the underside sections of the leaves. Having said that, cold temperatures or challenging living conditions may compromise the development of spores.

Therefore, the simplest technique to propagate the tree ferns would be to use the offsets. Simply put, these are the young plants that grow the trunk and the roots. More so, the offsets develop gradually, so you might consider leaving them to mature until they can be easy to handle. Following this, consider the following steps:

Sever the offsets cleanly from the parent roots or trunks

Put them in a container with loam-based ericaceous compost, which is deep enough for the trees to sit in
Water the trees and place them in a container with a propagator with an average temperature of 16-20 degrees celsius
Once the novel growth development is seen, you can then consider introducing them to the rugged outdoors
A fern that is provided with the appropriate living conditions grows fast and might achieve outstanding heights over a few years.

An excellent example would be the trunk of the Australian tree fern, which often starts as a low and broad clip which will grow to sizes of as much as 6 feet. This often occurs in as little as one year, and the tree grows upward into a singular and small truck that is festooned with ginger finger like projections.

Additionally, the fronds are wide, and the bright green triangular leaves and foliage will spread to as much as 15 feet. The leaves won’t change in color during the fall season and the tree also does not have any fruits or flowers.

Growing Conditions

Classified as a tropical plant, the tree fern is highly adaptable to a host of unique growing climates, and it also thrives due to its perennial properties. In fact, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture rates its hardiness levels at 8 to 11, and it can thrive at temperatures that range in between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

More so, the ferns can also grow in various types of soil conditions including sandy, clay, and loam, but the most preferable are growing in rich and moist soil with humus. While the tree ferns love the shade in general, they also tend to survive well in conditions with medium shade to locations that have full sun.

It is also important to note that the tree fern is not entirely resistant to drought and you may have to consider regular watering. With sufficient amounts of moisture and the appropriate growing conditions, you tree fern can reduce its expected growth span by as much as half. This is because these plants tend to be tolerant of various living conditions which make them a highly preferred plant species.

One important factor is that a healthy tree fern will require sufficient humidity and supplements. At the same time, the tree should also be kept away from excessive sunlight and winter conditions. Similar to all plants in the ecosystem today, they require specific living conditions to achieve the best growth results.

Where to plant tree ferns

Tree ferns tend to thrive in damp soil or full or partial shade. Therefore, a good recommendation for you would be to consider a sheltered location to achieve the best results. With that being said, these trees will grow well in the full sun, but will also require additional water to maintain optimal growth and development results.


Just as previously mentioned, propagation is best done through the spores. For this reason, it’s a procedure that is best left to professional growers.


A good recommendation for you would be to repot the plant annually into larger pots with fresh and free draining potting soil. When the plant achieves the ideal size that is available in the growing space, then you should consider stopping the repotting to control the growth. In the final instance, the tree will most likely outgrow both the pot and the room as well.


There are various types of tree ferns. For instance, one of the most common is the one sold as the Australian tree fern and is usually classified as a Cyathea Cooperi. Having said that, there are well over 1,000 types of tree ferns, which are all found in the subtropical and tropical conditions. The Tasmanian and the New Zealand species tend to be affiliated with the Dicksonia Antarctica. Furthermore, this plant tends to have a narrower as when compared to the Australian tree fern, but with almost similar growing conditions.


  • Consider the growing the tree fern in dense or partial shade with sufficient room for the frond growth
  • Plant the trees in humus rich soil and add some lead mold during the planting season in the soil
  • Provide sufficient winter protection during mild winters and the appropriate basic needs
  • Ensure the tree is watered every day for optimal growth and development.
  • Water daily for six months, once planted and kept the plant moist after that. Never allow to dry out
  • Ensure the tree has sufficient nutrients and the correct application of fertilizer and supplements
  • Never grow the tree in salty or dry conditions since this might compromise growth


  1. Robert Osborne

    I have a very dead tree fern, can I place a new smaller one on the top to fill up the space in the corner of the garden.

  2. Lindsay

    I have ferns growing off low on the trunk. Can I sever them and grow them separately?

    • Gullygygarden

      yes, I did one like that in October and it is sprouting out now in April. Kept it wet the whole time in between.

  3. Karen C

    I have just purchased a 1ft trunk which has been dormant, what size pot would you recommend?