Technically yes tree ferns can grow in pots, but you are really doing them a disservice by keeping them all constrained like this. Unless you are absolutely on it the whole time, you’re just stunting its growth and development by planting a tree fern in a tub or container.

Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) 0.5ft/20cm Potter

Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) in a pot

Why is growing a tree fern in a pot a bad idea?

  1. Not enough room for a good sized root ball to develop and spread and grow to potential. 
  2. Not giving the tree fern a firm base to anchor itself to, due to needing repotting now and again as roots grow
  3. It is SO hard controlling moisture in a pot! To be honest it’s hard enough when they are growing in the ground to make sure they get a daily water from spring to autumn. 

In my humble opinion I just don’t see the need to grow tree ferns in pots unless you’re happy with a slow growing plant that’s never going to be very happy and literally just surviving. Just plant it in the ground like a normal person and let it get its roots down and get comfortable. Allowing it space for the root ball to develop will lead to much larger fronds and a more impressive tree fern all round!

If you really really must grow them in pots due to some unknown reasons like you only have a concrete garden, or just a balcony then keep reading. 

The only advantage to growing a tree fern in a pot is when they are small. If you only have a 1ft tree fern, it’s a bit more at risk of freezing in the winter than an established tree fern, so this is about the only time to do it as you can quickly whip it into the greenhouse, poly tunnel or shed for a short time. 

How to take care of a potted tree fern

Get a big heavy terracotta pot, with a nice mix of compost, bark and organic matter, and setup some auto irrigation that can endlessly be dripping water into the crown. I have an auto dripper on my pair of tree ferns and they get a good soak for 5-7 mins twice a day from spring to late autumn. Bear in mind that when the fronds get large it’s going to be pretty top heavy – so a deep heavy pot with some support will become needed as the fern grows. Alternatively, just plant it in the soil! 

Further Reading & Common Tree Fern Questions

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Last Modified: September 6, 2022