Dicksonia antarctica
Common Name: soft tree fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dicksoniaceae
Native Range: Australia, Tasmania
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 12.00 to 18.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10 where it is best grown in loose, organically rich, humusy, consistently moist soils in part shade to full shade. Sun-dappled part shade may be best. Site in locations protected from strong winds. Hose the trunk daily in dry hot weather. This fern is tolerant of light frost. Propagation is primarily from spores. For indoor growth, use a container filled with a potting mixture composed of bark, loam, sand and leaf mold. Provide bright but somewhat filtered sun light. Move plants outside in summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dicksonia antarctica, commonly called soft tree fern, is an evergreen terrestrial tree fern that is native to moist areas of cool mountain forests, sheltered woodland slopes, gullies and along shaded creek beds in southeastern Australia and Tasmania. In the wild, it grows to 20-30’ tall with a trunk diameter of 12-28”. In cultivation, it grows much smaller. The woody trunk is nearly black. It primarily consists of a relatively thin, erect rhizome covered with a dense mass or mantle of fibrous roots. Large, rough-textured, deeply-divided, arching, tripinnate fronds (to 10’ long) spread outward from the top of the trunk to form a canopy. A leaf cap covers the spores found on the undersides of the fronds. This plant is also commonly called Tasmanian tree fern.

Genus name honors James Dickson (1738-1822), British botanist and nurseryman.

Specific epithet presumably refers to the southern native range of this fern.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this tree fern is an excellent specimen for home landscapes or parks. In the St. Louis area, it may be grown in greenhouses or conservatories. Young plants may be grown in containers.