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What's the current thinking on protecting tree ferns over winter ? I've wrapped up the trunks in fleece and blankets but what about the top growth ? At present mine look really good and I don't really want to cut them back. Last year I wrapped them together - again using fleece and pillow-cases (!), stuffed some straw amongst them and they survived quite well. Obviously I eventually needed to cut back the dead growth but I wondered if leaving the fronds on over winter helped to protect the new growing points. Would appreciate any thoughts on this.
Dry straw, fleece, etc in the crowns amd then tie up tightly the fronds to keep crown dry. The fronds will die over the winter but crowns will be ok. Remove tied back fronds in spring.
Agree with Verdun, remove the old fronds in Spring. Noted that you aren't that far from me, so I wouldn't wrap too much just now, depending on site, just protect the crown, or they will "sweat", been warmish in the sun today. I used to part wrap and then truly wrap when night temps' really drop.
Hope that helps.
Here is a recent debate on exactly this on another forum:
I would not wrap them until the weather is forecast below freezing and keep the crown damp as it is a fern.
Thanks for that folks - bit confused though - keep crown dry says Verdun, keep it damp say blairs - any other opinions on that please ?
The crown needs to be fairly dry inside or it will rot. And if water gets in then freezes, it will probably kill it! The working roots of tree ferns are near the top of the trunk so that's where you need the moisture. (The roots in the ground are anchors.) Having said that, it isn't critical in winter when the air tends to be damper anyway. That's the part that needs protecting from the cold. If you wrap the trunk it will hold in enough moisture to keep it going. The crown needs an almost waterproof hat, but don't use plastic because it won't let in air, which is essential.
If they're Dicksonia antarctica, wait until the weather is properly cold because that's the hardiest species. The others, especially Cyathea species, are iffy-hardy and need more protection.
Yes I would definitely keep it dry. Funny this though.....I checked online after to see what' advised and it's confusing isn't it?
I always think in terms of keeping plants dry during winter....cold and wet is a bad combination.
Here in Cornwall tree ferns, palms etc are widely grown and often not protected at all.
For me, if cold is expected have dry straw/whatever handy and some string to tie up those fronds.
OK thanks - dry it is.
If a Dicksonia then with this mild weather I am not protecting mine at all and they are pushing out fronds. I only wrap if a hard frost is forecast.
Wet and freezing is not good, but neither is dry and dessicated. In Oz they grow in forests that freeze and are very damp (but you cannot compare a few hours of -10 then 15C) with -3 then 0C in the UK.
I also do not use straw but use Eucalyptus and other tough leaves like broken up Laurel to insulate and keep the crown damp.
I pack my Dicksonia antarctica with dry straw from base to crown and secure it with horticultural fleece. If the weather is dry I put some straw loosely in the crown and bend over any dead fronds. Have a plastic bag, old compost sack or similar in which you have punched holes in the sides ready to put over when it is wet. In this recent weather, it may mean you covering and uncovering but mine has survived for 16 years using this regime.