Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Australian Tree Fern
Cyathea cooperi, Australian Fern
It's been said that Australian Ferns can be somewhat demanding and fussy plants. I suppose if grown indoors or in a not-so-sub-tropical climate they could perform less than expected.
The sheer majestic presence of the unusually large woody specimen in a shady setting draws one's attention to them . When you think about it the uniqueness of tree ferns is limitless.
The greenery of each oversized frond is soft and lacey while the trunk is stiff and fuzzy brown. The contrast is visually and tactiley appealing. This fern is a slow grower... though they can possibly reach heights of 10-12 feet.
Moist conditions in a shaded area with filtered light helps reproduce the forest-like provisions they prefer. Composted mulch and leaf litter around the base is suggested to use for amending the soil.
One rather small one purchased last May was sited in the back garden just off to the side of a flagstone pathway. It didn't take long at all before I realized what a hardy asset it was to the understory of the oak treed canopy.
Florida's high humidity level is a plus for growing the moisture loving tree ferns.
Just as it was getting so cozy and feeling at home here, all those long leafy fronds on my fern were bitten by frost last winter. They are not at all cold hardy. But by blanketing the trunk on the two coldest nights of the year, its trunk was preserved. Then with the first bit of warm weather the fern recovered and quickly put on new growth.
Each new fiddle head unfurls from brown, curly, tautness into a gracefully arching 4-5' evergreen frond that is gargantuan as ferns go.
This year it has tripled in size. Didn't I read somewhere that they were slow growers?
Planting the Australian Tree Fern in the midst of lower growing shrubs had me wondering initially if it was the best place for it. It has proven its worth by standing sentinel while not blocking the view beyond it. Another lesson in following gut instinct. I'm very happy with it right where it is.