Tag Archives: Australian tree ferns

bad day for ferns

After three weeks of days in the 60s the last two have pushed into the 80s. It’s the kind of intensely sunny spring weather that makes people productive or delirious. Next door they’re playing basketball and downing beers, and here at home John and I have been getting a final coat of paint on some steel stairs to the roof deck that had started to fade and show some rust spots. For us, the beers and margaritas will flow later this afternoon, when we go over to Mason’s and Carlos’s for dinner.

What is a great day for humans hasn’t been so kind on the Australian tree fern, Cyathea cooperi that we put in the ground last fall. General planting guidelines for them say to give them semi-shade, except near the coast, where they can tolerate full sun. Three weeks ago we had a weekend like this one, suddenly sunny and hot after a long period of cool weather. The plant wasn’t used to the heat, and the last set of fronds suddenly browned.

Fortunately the fern was producing a more fronds at the time, and they since unfurled into a gorgeous new set. Hopefully that hot weather prepared the plant for more sun and heat, and that the new set of fronds doesn’t dry up like the last ones did. We should find out in a few days.

Still, in the end, I won’t worry too much. This is about as hot as it ever gets at the coastal edge of town. The plant is getting established, and it’s fully capable to produce more fronds just in time for the cool, overcast months ahead, months with conditions that the locals have dubbed “May gray” and “June gloom.” Now that the sun’s out, though, it’s time to work on my tan…

free at last

Someone John knew had a big Australian tree fern in a pot in his front entry. The plant got too big and we adopted it. At some point we repotted it into a fairly huge pot, something like two feet across. The fern seemed happy enough and kept growing. That was three or four years ago, and by October the fern was about to grow into the eight foot tall patio cover.

When we completed the new raised bed having a giant tree fern in the middle of it wasn’t in the plan. But looking at the fern, setting it free into the ground seemed like the right thing to do.

Moving the 200 pounder through the soft new dirt wasn’t easy. Neither was digging a hole deep enough to accommodate it. (Thanks, John!) But the beast is in the ground, and from all appearances, pretty happy with its new spot in the garden. In fact, it celebrated by unfurling new frond after new frond, more than doubling the number it had while in a pot. Seeing that, it seemed like the fern had been in suspended animation all the while it was in the pot, and now it was finally tasting life. Nature in a pot may be convenient for the humans, but nature might not be so thrilled…

Free at last
The new home for the fern…

New fronds
Some new fronds…