The Q&A Archives: tropical plants

Question: My Australian Tree Fern is now 8 ft. tall. I live in San Joaquin Valley where summer temperature of 105 are common. To protect my fern I built an arbor over it. The plant has thrived, but now is growing up against the roof of the arbor. QUESTION: can I cut the trunk back to about 3 feet without killing the plant? Would new fronds continue to push up from the center of the trunk? Thanks for your comments>

Answer: My research shows that Cyathea cooperi is intolerant of topping so reducing the length of the trunk down to 3' will result in death of the remaining trunk. It may, however, generate a new trunk from the roots, as is what often happens when an Australian tree fern is killed down to ground level by a heavy freeze. I think I'd move the plant rather than try to control its size.

Best wishes with your landscape.

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