Planting in the fernery – Coin Spotted Tree Fern

By James Wall

We have a little fernery. The existing australis tree ferns have got a little tall and the area below them is looking a little bare. I am going to try a Coin Spotted Tree Fern or Cyathea cooperi.

An empty gap where we will plant our fern

Although this fern can get 4 or 5 metres high in its native area of the tropical lowlands of coastal Queensland and NSW, I am hoping its grows a bit slower down here in Melbourne, but alas one day may get a bit tall. It will be much skinnier in the trunk than my other 2 ferns so will still look quite effective.

It is called a coin spotted fern because when the old fronds are gone, they leave little stumps that look like coins. Some people also refer to it as the Lacy tree fern after its fronds. I love the way this young plants fronds furl over in a large curve.

The name cooperi was named after Sir Daniel Cooper (1821-1902). He was an elected into one of Australia’s first parliaments and became the first ever Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.












Our soil is rather sandy, and I guess summer is not the best time to be planting a fern. I was worried it was going to dry out. Then I had an idea – lets get some mulch blocks and plant the fern in coir peat.

Coir peat is made from the outer husk of the coconut. It absorbs moisture and is great in sandy soils. It is also a waste product that is being put to good use. It also comes from struggling economies like Sri Lanka, that need the economic help. They soak it in water to remove excess salts and then dry it and bail it extremely compacted to efficiently freight.

You simply add water, break it up a bit once it softens, and then it is ready to use. It makes a beautiful mulch on top of the garden, or can be incorporated into the soil like I have done with this fern.

I shoveled the coir it into the hole, planted the fern and put more coir all around it. That should do the trick.

Let’s hope it works and the fern thrives. Next time we will plant some ground cover ferns to further develop our little micro-climate of a fernery.

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