Tree Ferns

These magnificent trees are absolutely breath taking. They will happily live in the UK climate as long as a few simple guidelines are followed.

  • The first thing to know about them is that they have very little in the way of roots, This makes them an ideal architectural plant to keep in a pot, if you’d rather not have them in a border.

  • They prefer a shady sheltered position, as in the wild they grow under a canopy of taller trees, so are happiest in dappled or full shade.

  • Their fronds need space to grow, and they develop very fast once they start unfurling. If they come across an obstruction, they will try to grow away from the object in their path, and become distorted.

  • They take in water and nutrients through their crown, so should be watered and fed from the top. (They also appreciate having the odd hose down on their sides!). Use a seaweed based fertiliser or specialist tree fern food, and keep regularly feeding during the growing season.

  • They need to be watered often. Naturally they grow in rain forests where the air is damp most of the time.

  • The old fronds can be left in place for 2 – 3 years, before being removed. This helps the health of the tree, as the weight of old fronds helps to keep the crown open, thus allowing space for the new fronds to develop. Once you have 3 years’ worth of fronds you can remove the oldest layer by pulling them hard from the frond base, close to the trunk. Alternatively cut them off with a sharp blade or secateurs.

  • In the winter months the crown should be protected, as this is where next year’s fronds will be forming. Do so with straw, or by using some of the old fronds that have been removed. Criss-cross the old fronds over the top of the tree to form a protective mat. If neither is available, scrunched up horticultural fleece will suffice.