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Tree Fern - Dicksonia Antartica puzzle

14 years ago

I have a Tree Fern (Dicksonia Antartica) question which is perhaps slightly different. I bought mine quite a few years ago now, probably at the beginning of them being the "must have" plant. I well remember many well known UK TV gardening presenters at the time stating that Tree Ferns didnÂt really require any soil conditions as they get their nutrients through the crown and didnÂt have any basal roots. One famous presenter went as far as to say that you could even plant them in a bucket of bricks and they would thrive.

Anyway I purchased my tree fern then about 1 foot tall and planted it in a good compost mix in a 15" diameter pot. The Tree Fern thrived for quite a number of years and it became my pride and joy. However, over the last few years the fronds have reduced in length and quantity. It was then that I became aware that the presenters had been very wrong about the root system as my Tree Fern had become completely pot bound. I made the decision to re-pot and root prune this spring. Before I could take this action the winter of 2010 intervened. I always place the Tree Fern down the sheltered side of our property for the winter months. In previous years placed in this position the plant doesnÂt even lose its fronds. This year however was very different. When I came to examine the Tree Fern I found that the fronds were actually desiccated though still for the most part green. I cut off the fronds, all of them and waited for new ones to form. That was in early March. However, nothing is happening, there was no soggy crown has others have reported, the crown in my plant is dry and totally empty, there is no signs of re-growth whatsoever. I removed it from its pot a few weeks ago and found a totally solid clump of roots, no compost remained.

I root pruned the plant quite aggressively removing around two thirds of the roots and replanted in fresh loam based compost, still no signs of re-growth.

My question is  is this Tree Fern dead, am I wasting my time waiting for something to happen?

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