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The two-story ferns.

Cool, shady, tropical: that's the look tree ferns can give your garden. These handsome plants with fibrous trunks and plumes of finely cut fronds aremore at home outdoors in California's mild coastal climates than anywhere else in the country; their growth can be especially luxuriant where summer fog prevails. Where to plant tree ferns, what to plant with them

All look best when planted in clusters; try setting three of them about 5 feet apart in a triangle.

They look especially handsome planted beneath high-pruned deodar cedars, redwoods, or other conifers. Combine them with azaleas, low-growing sasanqua camellias, Douglas iris, liriope, campanula, ajuga, or impatients. They also look good when planted amid lower-growing ferns such as Boston or sword ferns.

Plant tree ferns in a wind-protected spot in bright, indirect light or open shade (they'll tolerate full sun in the coastal fog belt) in loose, well-drained soil amended with organic matter.

Give them plenty of room to mature, especially when planting them near large trees with wandering roots or under house eaves. Set ferns in planting holes 2 to 6 inches deeper than the original soil level (if young ferns haven't yet developed stems, don't bury their crowns); roots will form along the buried part of the trunk.

To transplant established tree ferns, cut off all fronds, then dig out a rootball about 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Bury the stem (depending on the plant's height) as much as a foot. Keep both new and newly transplanted ferns moist but not soggy. How to grow tree ferns

For speediest growth, feed established Hawaiian and Australian tree ferns two or three times during growing season (April to November) with any fertilizer containing nitrogen; fish emulsion is a favorite. Feed established Tasmanian tree ferns in spring and fall.

Water plants once or twice a week during the summer; douse trunks as well as root area, especially during extremely hot, dry weather. Unlike a regular tree trunk with trunk is really a vertical rhizome, which benefits from watering. When kept moist, it often develops more aerial roots.

Hawaiian tree fern (Cibotium glaucum) grows a moderate 4 to 6 inches a year, forming a 6- to 8-foot-tall trunk with red-brown hair after 20 to 25 years. In sun near the coast, it forms golden green 4-foot fronds. Grown in shade, fronds turn apple green. This fern is hardy to 32 [deg.] prolonged exposure to frost can burn fronds but they usually grow back. Protect from intense sun. It's at its best in frost-free coastal areas (Sunset climate zones 17 and 24).

Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica). This is the hardiest of the three; mature plants tolerate 20 [deg.] for short periods. Thick, fuzzy, reddish brown scaled trunks grow slowly to reach about 15 feet after 20 to 25 years. Dark green 3- to 6-foot arching fronds from a fountain-shaped head. Clip dead fronds, leaving 3- to 4-inch stems. This is a reliable grower in Sunset zones 8, 9, 14 through 17, and 19 through 24.

Australian tree fern (Sphaeropteris cooperi, also sold as Cyathea or Alsophila cooperi, or A. australis). This is the fastest grower of the three--10 to 12 inches per year. Skinny trunks covered with coarse, light brown scales reach 20 feet, topped by 10- to 12-foot finely cut, bright green fronds. Established plants can tolerate full sun in the coastal fog belt; give them light to open shade elsewhere.

Recently introduced dwarf Australian tree fern grows only 5 feet tall with 3- to 4-foot fronds that are darker green than those of its full-size cousin. Both are hardy to about 20 [deg.], but fronds may burn at that temperature. Grow in Sunset climate zones 15 through 24.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1984
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