Which Australian Tree Fern is this?

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

I recently bought a fern and the tag called it an Australian Tree Fern. Upon researching further, I learned there are a few types of tree ferns and I was hoping someone would be able to identify exactly which one I have. I have included 4 pictures. 2 of them show the whole fern and the other 2 show a frond about to unfurl.

Also, in the last picture, in the center of the fern is a discolored (white) leaflet on a frond. Does that mean it needs more water?


Thumbnail by SavvyDaze Thumbnail by SavvyDaze Thumbnail by SavvyDaze Thumbnail by SavvyDaze
Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

I'd say it's more than likely Cyathea australis.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

I think the container is too small. So, if it missed getting water even a little while there is not enough reserve to keep it going.

More often lack of water at some point, followed by recovery will show up in the tips and edges of the fronds browning.

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

I've been reading a lot about the C. australis and C. cooperi over the past few weeks and several sites say that almost all tree ferns sold in the US under the name "Australian Tree Fern" is a C. cooperi. I've looked at so many pictures to compare the australis and cooperi and read about their differences. I am thinking that I have a C. cooperi rather than an C. australis. Of course, I am still trying to make a 100% confirmation on this.

Diana, when I bought this tree fern, it came in a somewhat smaller pot than the one I transplanted it into. The root system (about 6-8 inches long) had plenty of room to grow for at least a few months until I could get a definitive answer on the type of tree fern it is. I used Fafard potting soil. I have several really nice planters of varying sizes, width, and height. What size pot would you suggest?

As for the discoloration on the leaflet, it isn't browning or on the tips. One leaflet on one branch is completely white or cream colored. Occasionally, I've seen this same thing happen to a few of my Autumn ferns which are planted in the ground. It looks as if a leaflet was bleached or something. I've tried looking up possible causes and I did find 2 websites that said it was due lack of water. However, I also found some places said it was due to over-watering. *sigh* I am leaning more towards the lack of water theory based on the locations of the Autumn fern in which this happened to: the ones that receive the most sun, the ones planted closer to base of oak trees, and the one planted in dryer shade which is in the garden that I probably don't water as much as I should. (Although, I do see to it that it receives at least 1 inch a week.)

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

You're probably right. It's more-than-likely C. cooperi. I think I said that as I have C. australis on the brain as it's more cold-hardy. If you are going to try it out in the garden, pick a spot that is protected overhead. Dicksonia antarctica is hardy to our climate but not to rain that constantly falls, then freezes on the tender new growth and kills the treefern. There are some huge plants only a few blocks from me with an open-front building but with glass roof. They are doing amazingly well. Any plants I am aware of growing in the open have been killed. It's the wet-freezing in the crown that gets them. Does your treefern get high humidity?

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

Hey growin, here in South Carolina, the humidity in summer is almost unbearable...at least for humans it is :) Tropical plants really love it. As for freezing rain...in the 7 years I have lived here, I don't recall ever having freezing rain. It did snow about 2 inches once back in Feb of 2010, but it melted away by noon the next day, and we had snow flurries once that I can remember. Usually we have pretty mild winters, but it does get cold in January through March. I'm not a cold weather person so anything under 50 degrees is too cold for me, but sometimes we do get down into the 30's and 40's during the night in January, but daytime temps are in the 50's. In February, night temps average mid-40's and day temps in mid 50's. In March, it starts warming some, and daytime temps are usually between 60 and 70 with night temps in the 50's.

As for humidity, according to the weather channel we usually have about 100% humidity at night and the average daytime humidity is about 78%. Currently, it is 61 degrees with 97% humidity.

I would love to plant this tree fern outside as I have the perfect spot for it under a canopy of oak and pine trees. It would get mostly filtered sun throughout the day except it would get direct sun when the sun first rises for an hour or so. Do you think it would be ok to plant it outside when spring comes around? I certainly don't have a space for it inside during winter once it starts getting a trunk. C. cooperi has been growing really fast for me. Even though I have it inside it has been putting out 1-2 new fronds a week! I have it in the garage with a humidifier next to it and I mist it a few times a day. It was in the bathroom, but I noticed it was getting some brown tips and some leaflets were turning white/yellow. I figured it wasn't getting enough humidity, so I moved it to the garage where I am overwintering a bunch of baby Colocasia. Hopefully, that will stop the problem.

Any advice is appreciated.

San Francisco, CA

Sounds like your climate will be fine for C. cooperi. I would go ahead and put it outside now. Be aware that if you put it under large trees they will be competing for nutrients and water, and you will need to compensate with more of each.

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

Vestia, I figured as much, which is one of the reasons I chose that site to possible plant it...it is 20 feet from the water faucet. The site is on the SE corner of the house about 20 feet from the house foundation, 15+ feet away from the trunks of the oak and pine trees, and receives full eastern morning sun & filtered southern sun. I prepared this area earlier this past summer with lots of leaf mold and compost and still toss compost onto it at times. LOTS of earthworms living in the soil :) I grew some Colocasia and Ferns in this area this summer and they thrived, but I reserved a good sized area (8x8) to plant this tree fern at some point. The area also has soaker hoses and I have a mister that I attach to the hose for those really hot and sunny summer days.

As for nutrients, what type of fertilizer, aside from compost, is good for tree ferns. On the Colocasia and ferns, I used Fish Emulsion, Epsom Salt, and Jack's Classic All Purpose 20-20-20 water soluble plant food. Of course, I didn't use them all at the same time. I used the Jack's Classic monthly and a Fish Emulsion/Epsom Salt foliage spray mixture every 2 weeks. I did this April through September. Would that be ok for the tree fern, as well?

San Francisco, CA

Yes, all those are fine, but I wouldn't advise foliar feeding the tree fern.

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

Vestia, just out of curiosity, why not?

San Francisco, CA

Ferns have a greater risk of tip burn from fertilizers. Foliar feeding is highly overrated; it is not worth the effort IMO, when soil fertilizing gives safer, more positive results.

Lady's Island, SC(Zone 8b)

I understand what you are saying. I don't foliar feed my plants situated in the sun simply because I think the heat & sun dry it up before the plant can take it in. So, I only do it to those in shade and I do it very early in the morning.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

I wasn't aware of the foliar feeding but I know Dicksonia are best fed in the crown and trunk as there are many roots in that zone. IMO, I'd plant it against the side of the house. Some of the nicest pics of Cyathea cooperi I've seen are growing out of the side of a house or building. It also gives good protection just in-case there is a cold-snap.

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