No new growth on tree fern

Margaret Murphy asked 13 years ago

I got a 3 5ft tree ferns for the garden last August. When one of them was being planted, it fell over. It did not appear damaged at the time but I notice that there is no new growth on this tree this year. There are 3 budding fern leaves in the trunk core but they are black. I don’t know how long they have been like this. I only started looking at them as the weather improved. The other two trees are in the same area and doing well.Do you think this may be a sign that trunk broke internally when it fell? The ferns that were on it when it arrived stayed green until recently and they are now browning.Thanks in advance Margaret Murphy

1 Answers

Gerry Daly Staff answered 3 years ago
Tree ferns are not really trees at all because they have no wood. The ‘trunk’ is made up of dead and living roots and the butt ends of dead leaf stems.

Simply falling over would not normally be a big problem but if you have two ferns doing well, it is possible that some damage may have occurred to the other. The failure to grow new leaf fronds and the browning of the others might signal that the top of the plant is not getting enough moisture up through the stem. This could occur in any case but you might need to look the stem to see if it is actually broken.

You could wrap the entire trunk with polythene and water from the top to encourage rooting down through the stem, the polythene reatining moisture, and if that does not work you will have to cut the top half or one-third  … wherever there appears to be a break …. and replant the shortened stem in the hope that it will be able to root from there.

But more than likely, it simply has not got roots working and top-watering will help. The outside of a healthy tree fern should be a mass of living roots, not dry to the touch.