How to Plant a Tree Fern


A fern is considered to be a tree fern if it grows a trunk which elevates the leaves above the ground. Tree ferns are commonly found in subtropical, tropical and temperate rainforest areas of the world. Like regular ferns, tree ferns don't reproduce by seed, but rather from spores. Tree ferns are easily damaged by frost, so unless you plant a cold hardy variety, they will not survive in colder climates. By using a few household garden tools, you can readily plant your tree fern.

Step 1

Select a location that has partial shade and partial sun. Tree ferns do not grow well in full shade.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is 6 inches wider than the container the tree fern is in. Dig the hole 2 inches deeper than the container.

Step 3

Spread a 2-inch layer of compost at the bottom of the hole.

Step 4

Remove the tree fern from the container by pulling upward with gentle pressure on the trunk and place it in the center of the planting hole. The root ball of the tree fern should be just as high as the surrounding soil.

Step 5

Mix the existing soil with equal amounts of compost and shovel back into the planting hole around the rootball. Tamp the soil down with your foot to remove air pockets.

Step 6

Sprinkle a top dressing of blood and bone meal on top of the soil. This will help your tree fern establish.

Step 7

Water the soil thoroughly until the root ball is completely moist. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree fern. It should extend from the trunk out to the edge of the leaf canopy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Refrain from planting the tree fern too deeply. The tree fern should be planted at the same depth as it was in the pot. If planted to deeply, it may develop rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tree fern
  • Compost
  • Blood and bone meal
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Garden Advice: Caring for Tree Ferns
  • Smithsonian Institution: Fern Fact Sheet
  • Ferntastic!: How to Care for Your New Fern
Keywords: tree fern, planting tree fern, planting hole, planting depth, tree fern rootball

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.