The Tree Ferns Have to Love Themselves Before I Can Love Them
April 19, 2011 7:53 PM   Subscribe

What is going on with my new tree ferns? Bad things, yes, but what manner of bad things?

Also maybe they hate me?

Okay so: they looked pretty good, one had a slightly burnt leaf, but all in all in good shape, when I bought them last week. (They were outdoors; in bright shade but no direct sun, I think.) Now they're indoors (temp circa 70 or 72 or so--cooler than they're used to, probably but not crazily). I potted them. I mulched them. I have been watering them pretty well? Not swamping them or anything! But keeping them rainforesty and moist, for the most part. (I don't let water collect or anything--I do let it dry out). They are in straight-up potting soil, I haven't fertilized them or fed them.

But the smaller one started shriveling his (her? herm's?) leaves, from the tips, a few days after moving in. The larger one didn't, but then suddenly started doing it too.

Here is a picture of the first shriveling frond on the big plant.

Also the new fronds that were halfway up sort of started turning sideways?

They were getting some direct sun, just in the mornings, when I took them in, so in case that's the problem, I have moved them to full shade. But they're getting worse today in the shade. More shriveling! Why? Tree ferns aren't fussy plants, as I understand it! I know some plants hate change (so do I) but sheesh.
posted by RJ Reynolds to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Possibly the humidity is way too low for them. You should try misting them or giving them a humidifier.
Here is the resource I referred to.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 8:28 PM on April 19, 2011

Ferns aren't haters, they're luvvahs. Bet it's your light. You mentioned direct sun and full shade, but where they thrive is indirect sunlight. Your temperature sounds good. Mist them and keep the soil on the dry side and see if that helps.
posted by iconomy at 8:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't see from your pic but have they developed a trunk? if so water into the top of the trunk where the leaves emerge.

I have giant ones out on my deck in direct sunlight and not a lot of humidity and the only time that happens is if it's too dry and I don't wet their head!
posted by Wilder at 5:00 AM on April 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! This fills me with hope!

Okay, I am going to keep them in a very bright shade (I can't quite get them delicious, rainforestey dappled sunlight and shade in here) but no sun, and I'm going to mist the everloving bejesus out of them. They are getting sort of trunk-ey, yes; I would describe them as adolescent, so they're not a wee spike, but not yet a tree really. I will treat them as top-drinkers. Moisture here we come!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:29 AM on April 20, 2011

My leaves often shrivel in the winter (outside, UK), but the new leaves appear in the spring and are fine. I think mine are dicksonia antarctica. Oh yes, and I water the crown.
posted by rhymer at 8:16 AM on April 20, 2011

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