Misc. Ferns

Under this heading we group all the ferns that we describe as `not reliably hardy`. This includes plants which could quite possibly survive our climate with some degree of protection, i.e. if grown in a very sheltered site or wrapped in webbing or surrounded with straw or something similar. There are also some species that really just do better if kept in a heated greenhouse or conservatory.

Also included in this section is a small selection of tree ferns, some of which have been grown from spore by ourselves and are a few years from producing a trunk. Or in the case of plants already on a trunk, have been grown from dry stumps for at least a year in order to guarantee that they have a good root ball and crown and therefore a better chance of survival.

With the larger tree ferns (Dicksonia fibrosa & D.squarrosa) we can get them in if required though we haven’t got the space to grow many on and most people don’t have the time to wait for us anyway. But given a plenty of notice we should be able to supply both species in various sizes up to about six feet. Most of the plants described in this section are only available in very small numbers so its probably best if you want anything specific that you give us a ring to see if they are still in stock before sending us an order.

We do not send the large plants out via carriers; they would need to either be collected from us here or at one of the flower shows that we will be attending throughout the summer season. Details of where we’ll be are published on the website see our News page or you can give us a ring here and someone should be able to let you know which shows we have.

Adiantum raddianum

Locality: Central / South America     Height: 15-60cm (6-24in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £15.00

This species is similar to the hardy species of Adiantum, also having long slender black stems. The main difference is the size of the pinnules, they are very much smaller and obviously they are not hardy. This plant will get to a good size but is much more delicate all round. They are now kept throughout the winter at two or three degrees above freezing, sometimes possibly dipping below; but hopefully not for too long at a time, we have not yet tried one outside through the winter.

They grow much quicker if you can grow them much warmer and in higher humidity, we used to grow them in amongst tropical Orchids so the growth was much more luxurious. We pot them into the same mix as most other ferns 50/50 ericaceous and soil improver and try not to dry them out, that will generally kill them stone dead.

Adiantum raddianum `Fritz Luth`

Locality:     Height: 18-30cm (7-12in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £8.50

The pinnules of this variation are much larger than the previous species and are congested and overlapping, also the stems of the plant are thicker and stronger than the others. Overall the plant is shorter and much more robust in appearance, we did try this one outside a few years back but lost the plant and so now we always suggest that it best grown in a warm conservatory or a light window sill indoors. The fronds are produced much more vertically than most A.raddianum variations, it prefers plenty of moisture and good open compost.

Adiantum raddianum `Micro-pinnulum`

Locality:     Height: 30-45cm (12-18in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £15.00

As the name of this plant suggests it has incredibly small pinnules, they can also be flushed with light pink when the fronds are fresh. When the fronds are young they grow vertically but with age they weep over the sides of the pot, so are best in some kind of hanging basket or a tall pot. This is definitely a plant for a warm position indoors as it is very delicate. A beautiful fern which gets a lot of attention when we use it on our displays, unfortunately most people want to keep if outside.

Blechnum gibbum

Dwarf tree fern

Locality: New Hebrides / Fiji     Height: 30-70cm (12-28in)
Product size: 1 Ltr     Product price: £15.00 (we hope Late June)

The new growth of this fern is bright yellow/green contrasting with the older dark green foliage, it produces a large flush of sterile fronds early in the year and later on a smaller flush of fertile ones. Both types are a simple pinnate form but the pinnae of the spore producing fronds are very much thinner and finer all round.

This species will eventually come up on a narrow trunk, though they can be relatively short lived (certainly nothing like some of the Dicksonia species) we grew one for approximately ten years until it keeled over and died for no apparent reason.

It is definitely a plant for a nice warm position in a heated conservatory or greenhouse, it likes plenty of water which we pour directly into the crown of the fern soaking the trunk every time it is watered. They are generally only available as young plants without trunks but grown nice and warm and moist five or six years can see the plants up on multiple trunks and looking fantastic, we only have a few of this species every year. We may occasionally have some slightly larger plants late in the season.

Blechnum minus

Soft Water fern

Locality: Australia / New Zealand     Height: 30cm (12in)
Product size: 1 Ltr     Product price: £15.00

A clump forming species this fern spreads quite readily by the means of underground stolons. The fronds are pinnate and approximately 4 to 6inches across, the new growth is a nice pinky red colour fading to bronze and eventually dark green. It is probably quite tough though we have yet to plant one outside through the winter, reading from other publications it is hardy down to minus 12. This would presumably be with some form of protection. Grown warm through the winter the plant would remain evergreen.

Blechnum nudum

Fishbone Water fern

Locality: Australia     Height: 60cm (24in)
Product size: 1 Ltr     Product price: £25.00

In the wild this fern is found growing alongside rivers and streams often forming large colonies. With bright green rosettes of fronds produced almost vertically they are very attractive, the fronds are pinnatifid and they will eventually produce stout trunks. These are our own spore propagated plants so as with most of the miscellaneous plants they are in very small numbers, please contact before ordering as they may all be gone.

It prefers an acid soil and as the common name suggests they like a lot of water, it also requires a shady or semi-shady site. This Blechnum should be hardy down to approximately minus seven, again with protection.

Cyathea cooperi

Lacy Tree fern

Locality: Eastern Australia     Height: Fronds 1.2-2.5m (4-8ft) / Trunk H2.5m (8ft)
Product size: small & large     Product price: £35.00 & 45.00

We have been growing this fern for almost ten years, our oldest plant has multiple trunks which are quite short (two feet) but it has fronds of around six feet or more. This is the species that started the whole thing off, Fernatix that is. Probably if Steven hadn’t bought two small plants of this species at an Orchid show all those years ago we’d still be lorry drivers and painter/decorators!

It can become a very impressive specimen given the space, we have re built our poly tunnels on two courses of breeze blocks in order to get more height though I’m sure within a year they’ll be hitting the roof again. We find that it is an easy plant to grow assuming you can give winter protection, of course people in central London could possibly get away with leaving him out throughout the winter in a sheltered garden. We usually get at least minus seven so we protect.

The trunk is covered in light brown scales as are the entire frond midribs, it can easily produce five/six foot fronds before it ever starts to trunk. The frond is held on a very long stipe giving the plant quite an open airy appearance. We had a few still available at the time of writing, these are spore propagated plants from late 2005 in 9cm pots, please contact us before ordering as they may be gone by the time we go to print.

Cyathea tomentosissima

Locality: Papua New Guinea.     Height: Fronds 1-1.5m (3-5ft) / Trunk H1m (3ft)
Product size: small     Product price: £35.00 / 65.00 (We hope late July)

As with some of the other Cyathea species this is quite a vigorous grower, our first plant that we’ve grown from spore has fronds of about five feet and this is in only five or six years. The plants we are offering are from spore collected from our adult plant in 2002 they are now into large pots and are quite impressive plants. It is a darker green than the previous species, with fronds covered in orangey brown scales so that the plant looks very hairy which is what the name means. Issima means very and Tomentose is hairy, when you see the plant it is a very appropriate name. As the plant ages the new croziers get thicker and are really beautiful as they begin to unfurl, completely covered with reddish hairs.

We find that it is quite an easy plant to grow, we pot on into a good ericaceous compost mixed 50/50 with soil improver in order to open up the compost, we add slow release fertiliser and the plants thrive on this treatment. Our plants are kept at a minimum of plus five but if you can grow warmer throughout the winter then they will produce new fronds all year round. Our mature plant is one that we bought in a 9cm pot from Hampton Court approximately seven or eight years ago; it is now on a trunk of about two feet high with a spread of seven feet or more. This plant for quite a few years was grown in the Orchid house at our previous address unfortunately we no longer have that luxury.

Dicksonia fibrosa

Wheki ponga

Locality: New Zealand     Height: Fronds 1.2-2.5m (4-8ft) / Trunk H5.5m (18ft)
Product size: by ft     Product price: £85.00 per ft

This tree fern is easily as tough as D.antarctica which we have had outside for the last four winters, the last two unwrapped. We did previously wrap him but then were caught out by the frost with a minus seven which we were not expecting, after that there seemed little point as we assumed he may already have been dead. As it turned out the plant produced twenty fronds again that year.

The plant looks similar and it may not be until you are familiar with both species that the differences become apparent, the fronds are generally a darker green and are rougher to the touch. The trunk is a mass of roots more so than D.antarctica where you can often see the old leaf bases. As with other tree ferns they like a lot of moisture up and down the trunk. The trunk is actually an upright rhizome and has evolved this way because they are from areas of the world with higher humidity. The trunk should be kept moist throughout the growing season, we generally tell folks not to water directly into the crown but at the same time do not dry him right out as that will surely kill him.

We no longer stock D.antarctica being as the supermarket chains are selling them cheaper than we can buy them in there’s really no point. We are a very small company and we cannot compete.

Dicksonia squarrosa

Rough tree fern

Locality: New Zealand     Height: Fronds 1-1.5m (3-5ft) / Trunk H3m (10ft)
Product size: by ft     Product price: £50.00 per ft.

We don’t stock this species anymore either but for different reasons. Put plainly people kill them! The majority of folks that have had one don’t water them anywhere enough and others leave them in the garage over winter without any water at all which really doesn’t work. Masses of people come to us every year with the same story “the top has died but there is still fronds coming from the bottom” too dry is the main problem and the crown has died but the base growth given time will come up onto trunks. But how long is a piece of string?

We know a chap twenty five miles up the road from us here that has been successfully growing a six foot D.squarrosa in his town garden for quite a few years now which just goes to show some people can grow him quite successfully.

Anyway all that said we can still get them in to order up to about six feet tall if you want them!

I still think it’s a fabulous plant as they usually have a very dark slender trunk topped by a good crown of fronds and with a frond or two popping out of the sides of the trunk I think they are hard to beat. Assuming you keep on top of the watering they really should be no harder to keep than any other tree fern species. We nowadays recommend that people invest in an overhead drip system which will drip water onto the trunk so that you know it is getting some all the time. We have them rigged up in the tunnels here so that when we are at a show there is some insurance just in case our man here misses one. These systems are reasonably priced and are readily available from most good garden centres.

Doodia caudata

Small Rasp fern

Locality: Australia / New Zealand     Height: 15cm (6in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £10.00

The genus Doodia is closely related to Blechnum and similarly to the Blechnum this species produces fertile fronds and separate sterile fronds. Both types are narrowly pinnate, only about 1cm across at the most but they can reach lengths of 15cm or so. The tips of the fronds are drawn out into a long point (caudate) fresh growths are tinged with a light pink colour. I have had this species in the ground for one winter, one of the two plants is still alive though not particularly healthy, and the other did not survive. We would therefore recommend keeping indoors or a frost free greenhouse. It also prefers an acid soil or compost and if kept warm throughout the year will remain evergreen.

Doodia media

Small Rasp fern

Locality: Australia / New Zealand     Height: 25cm (10in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £10.00

This is a similar plant to the previous species but the frond is wider and longer, it also seems to produce a much stronger red colour on the spring growth. Our plants are thrown out in a shade area all year round without any problem so I would say they are much tougher temperature wise too. We grow them in a mix of good quality acid compost mixed with soil improver to open the mix.

Onychium japonicum

Carrot fern

Locality: Northern India / Thailand / Japan     Height: 10-45cm (4-18in)
Product size: 9 cm     Product price: £15.00

With finely divided tri-pinnate fronds held on nice long stems this fern looks quite delicate, but ours is left in a greenhouse which is kept just above freezing right through the winter without any problem. The common name is quite obvious when you see the plant because it does look very similar to the foliage of a carrot, just a little thicker and dark glossy green. It is rather a fast growing plant and can begin to colonise other pots, though it is easily removed from among other plants.