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Tree ferns

John Asked

Will tree ferns grow and survive in Kentucky?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, John: Tree ferns are one of my personal favorites. I wish they would survive our winters but even the hardiest ones that can handle lows of 20 degrees F are considered tropicals for Kentucky gardeners. We can’t provide the warmth and humidity that they require year-round. Our winter temperatures are too low for these tropical natives but that should not stop us from enjoying them. The Australian Tree Fern (Cyanthea cooperi) is the one that is typically found in local garden centers around Kentucky. They are a fun addition to the garden and growing them in containers makes it easier to bring indoors for the winter. During the warmer months they do best when grown in soil that is consistently moist and a space where they will receive dappled light and high humidity. These tropical conditions are hard to create indoors but the bathroom is a good option because of the increased humidity. They won’t put on new growth during the winter, but the goal is to keep them alive and get them back outside after the frost-free date passes in the spring. Some plants are worth the extra care they require. In my opinion, this is one of them.

Angie Oakley

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