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Tropicdoc

Tree ferns

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Tropicdoc

I’m in south Louisiana and want to try a tree fern under live oak canopy. Which one? Dicksonia or cyathea? Or is it a pipe dream?

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Josue Diaz

cyathea cooperi will defoliate with frost. I'm unsure how they do under canopy but if you get to the low 30s regularly, dicksonia would be a better bet than cyathea. 

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Tropicdoc

Thanks! Might see about a dicksonia come spring

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Merlyn2220

Both of them are susceptible to crown rot, which is what suddenly killed 4 tree ferns in my front yard this summer.  I may try another one at some point, but it'll be in a place that doesn't get torrential rainstorms on the crown every single day in the summer.  Dicksonia is slower growing but more cold hardy, just avoid watering the crown!

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PalmatierMeg

I have Cyathea planted in my jungle under deep canopy and it is doing well so far. I can't grow Dicksonia here because of my 6-month sweltering summers - this genus wants the relief of cooler nights. Your summers are shorter but equally sweltering so you may want to research Dicksonia carefully.

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Tropicdoc

Thanks guys. I’d be ok with cyathea defoliating in the winter as long as it survives to regrow fronds. But as mentioned, it rains 9 days out of 10 here in the summer. So might be a no go. I’m also considering “the king” ostrich fern which can get kind of big and give a similar effect. Anybody grew that one?

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krishnaraoji88

I would recommend against the Dicksonia. Your climate is probably more similar to Ocala than the PNW. Cyathea works well because we can go years between hard freezes in the south and they grow fast. They're also easy and cheap to replace so they're reasonable to use as a perennial. They also relish the rain. They die pretty easily from getting too hot and dry.

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Merlyn2220

I was talking to a fellow PalmTalker the other day and mentioned my sudden Australian tree fern deaths.  He mentioned that some ferns are okay with occasional droughts, but mine wasn't one of them.  He had a couple of them croak immediately after going dry.  Basically once the fronds started to droop there was no coming back.  That happened to mine when it quit raining for a week and I hadn't fixed the sprinkler system yet.  It definitely started wilting but came back reasonably okay for about a month.  After that week it would only hold 1-2 fronds and not totally open all the whorls.  So the sudden deaths could have been due to dehydration, especially since the biggest one (about 4 feet tall) was severely pot bound and didn't grow many roots even after 6 months in the ground.

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krishnaraoji88

Yeah especially if it happens during summer and they get some direct sun they can be toast if they are dry. Ive also noticed that there is some variability in how drought tolerant they are, possibly different sources of spore in Australia? Anyways they make great landscape plants and the big box stores sell the small ones for like $5 a pop. When compared with how much other plants cost they are cheap and easy perennials to make your landscape look super tropical. OTOH Dicksonia survive but barely grow. They always are just a hair from being killed off by drought or cold.

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rprimbs

Years ago I read a blog on the internet about a guy who grew plants in large plastic barrels sunk into the ground.  The barrels had no drainage holes -- so the water would never drain.

He would fill the bottom half of the barrel with peat moss.  But maybe that is not necessary because it won't drain anyway.  Maybe the peat moss helped with acidity?

Anyway he claimed that he was having great success growing tree ferns in the barrels -- and he was only watering them the same as the other plants.

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RichAZ

I bought a small Cyathea from a big box store in Florida and brought it back to Arizona as a potentially very cool houseplant.  So far it's pretty miserable with curled leaves and dying new growth. I water it every other day, mist it several times a day and keep it out of the sun.  Anyone have any suggestions?

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Dypsisdean
3 hours ago, RichAZ said:

I bought a small Cyathea from a big box store in Florida and brought it back to Arizona as a potentially very cool houseplant.  So far it's pretty miserable with curled leaves and dying new growth. I water it every other day, mist it several times a day and keep it out of the sun.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Any idea what the relative humidity in your house is? I'll bet that is part (if not all) of the problem. Arizona air is already really dry. Turn your heat on at night, or AC on in the day and it gets even dryer inside.

I have an indoor/outdoor wireless temp and humidity monitor. I find it interesting to see the difference between indoor and outdoor temp and humidity at a glance - although I am always trying to lower the humidity in the house.

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RichAZ

Thanks Dypsis.  I suspect you're right about the humidity.  Arizona isn't Florida and misting every once in a while isn't going to change that.   I guess we'll see where this goes...

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PalmatierMeg

Low humidity will be a major problem for you. I suggest you give it frequent tepid showers as a watering technique. Also, you can run the hot water in the shower for a few minutes to steam up the bathroom then set the fern in the tub for a sauna.

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RichAZ

Thanks Meg!  My wife takes loooong showers.  

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