Tree ferns, a fern subtype of the Cyatheales,typically have trunk-like stems that are extremely absorbent and elevate the fronds above the ground. Native to tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world, tree ferns thrive in a humid environment. Like other ferns, tree ferns reproduce through the spores on the underside of their fronds. The trunk of a tree fern can grow to be as high as 80 feet or more. Unlike the trunks of seed plant trees, such as the oak, a tree fern’s trunk does not form woody tissue as it grows, but rather is supported by a trunk that is composed of rhizomes which are modified to grow vertically via the roots.
Australian Tree Fern
The Australian Tree Fern, a large tropical fern, makes a nice addition to your garden if you live in a warm enough climate, the USDA Zones 7 through 11 are recommended, or one can be grown in a container if you live in a cooler climate. The Australian Tree Fern can grow to be 30 to 40 feet tall with leaves that can branch out from the trunk as far as 15 feet. When handling the fronds of the Australian Tree Fern take special care and wear gloves as the fronds are poisonous and can cause skin irritation. Due to its poisonous effects, you may not wish to have an Australian Tree Fern if you have young children or pets. When planted outdoors the Australian Tree Fern adds a truly majestic and tropical quality to your landscaping.
The Australian Tree Fern’s soil should be kept moist and does not do well in hot weather or dry air. To keep your Australian Tree Fern watered without over watering, which is a danger, it is recommended you water once a week in cooler weather and twice a week in hot weather. Keep your Australian Tree Fern in a shady area and fertilize with a general-purpose fertilizer about once a month.
Soft Tree Fern or Tasmanian Tree Fern
The Soft Tree Fern is native to parts of Australia. These ferns have a very hairy base trunk and fronds that are rough, large and dark green. In its natural habitat the Soft Tree Fern grows on sheltered woodland slopes that tend to be damp and does best in moist soil. The Soft Tree Fern, like the Australian Tree Fern, can be cultivated indoors or outdoors and has a very striking appearance. Able to grow to a height that reaches up to 40 feet, the fronds are long and arching and are divided into linear segments that can grow up to 10 feet long.
When raising a Soft Tree Fern note that they require a minimum temperature of 45 degrees. If grown in a container it should be just large enough to hold the roots of the trunk. Keep your Soft Tree Fern’s soil moist, watering about twice a week in warmer weather and once a week in cooler weather. Mist the fronds in the summer to keep them hydrated.