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Soft Tree Fern

Dicksonia antarctica

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Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) at Roger's Gardens

Soft Tree Fern

Soft Tree Fern

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) at Roger's Gardens

Soft Tree Fern foliage

Soft Tree Fern foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  15 feet

Spread:  12 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  8b

Other Names:  Tasmanian Tree Fern, Man Fern


This sturdy variety produces large, dark green, roughly textured fronds that rise out of the trunk and arch down as they mature; prefers bright, dappled shade; do not allow to dry out; a stunning accent or container plant

Ornamental Features

Soft Tree Fern's attractive large ferny bipinnately compound leaves emerge chartreuse in spring, turning dark green in color the rest of the year on a plant with an arching habit of growth.

Landscape Attributes

Soft Tree Fern is an open spreading evergreen fern with a shapely form and gracefully arching fronds. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should not require much pruning, except when necessary, such as to remove dieback. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Soft Tree Fern is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Soft Tree Fern will grow to be about 15 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 6 feet from the ground. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 60 years or more. As an evegreen perennial, this plant will typically keep its form and foliage year-round.

This plant performs well in both full sun and full shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in both summer and winter to conserve soil moisture and protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This species is not originally from North America.

Soft Tree Fern is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its height, it is often used as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Garden  Container 
Foliage Color  Texture  Bark 
Ornamental Features