Tree ferns have been around since prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed earth. Originally popularised by Victorians, tree fern has undergone something of a revival in recent years, helped no doubt by it frequent appearances in many of television garden makeover programmes.
Varieties of tree ferns to grow in UK
Tree ferns can roughly be divided in hardy and non hardy when growing in UK. It is likely there are up to a thousand species of tree fern, with most of them growing in Southern Hemisphere and tropics. Many of these are not a all cold hardy and it would be very difficult to grow them successfully outside in UK. The two main cold hardy types for our climate are called: Cyathea and Dicksonia. The most commonly available of these are: Cyathea spinulosa, Cyathea australis, Cyathea dealbeta, Dicksonia Antarctica, Dicksonia fibrosa and Dicksonia squarrosa.
Different sizes of tree fern and where to buy them
Tree fern are available as plants that have been propagated from spores and complete trunks that have been harvested from rain forests or tropical areas of world, often as a by-product of other activities. You can usually buy them at garden centres or specialist nurseries. The trunks are often sold without fronds straight from container and fronds will start to appear after a few weeks. Expect to pay more if you want to buy a tree fern with fronds.
Choosing a position for a tree fern
Tree ferns prefer to grow with some shade. They will adapt to a sunny position but will need very regular watering and may suffer from sunburn to fronds. So ideally you need to pick a spot in garden with some shade during at least part of day. Ferns also like a moist surrounding and tree ferns really need watering every day during warmer months especially inside and down trunk. They will grow equally happy in containers but again will prefer a shady spot.