The Q&A Archives: Australian Tree Fern

Question: Since we bought our house last year, I am getting more and more interesting in gardening and landscaping. Our front yard has very few plants and I was interested in giving it a tropical look. I love ferns but unfortunately they love shade. The spot that I have for the Australian tree fern in in the front yard where it gets about 4 to 6 hours of afternoon sun (We live in Northern CA). Would the plant thrive if I plant it there. Also, the fern that interests me the most is the Tasmanian Tree Fern but it seems like it prefers shade more than the Australian one. Will it do well in that spot?

Thanks for this service. I love your site, it is really useful and informative.

Zareen Umair

Answer: Cyathea cooperi, the Austrailian Tree Fern, is the fastest growing of all the tree ferns and would be a good choice for your growing region. It thrives in full sunshine, but will get along well in partial shade. The plant starts out as a low, wide clump before it begins growing upward. Expect Cyathea to grow from 1'- 3' per year.

Dicksonia, the Tasmanian Tree Fern, prefers shade but will grow well in your mild temperature summer season if given 4-6 hours of sunlight. It's the hardiest of tree ferns, tolerating cold temperatures of 20 degrees F. It grows slowly, eventually reaching 15' in height with many arching, 3-6' fronds. The fronds are more finely cut than those of the Austrailian Tree Fern.

Either tree fern will adapt to the growing conditions you describe.

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