Tasmanian tree fern needs your help- pic attached

dirtslinger2(6)January 12, 2011

My Dicksonia is having some trouble, I'm thinking it is not too late to correct it. I just have no idea what it is.

The pic is not that clear- what is happening is much of the foliage has dried up, a brand new fiddlehead is showings signs of leaflets drying out (still curled tight), and as you can hopefully see in the pic, some leaflets have an orange mid rib. There is a very noticeable yellowing within the leaflets- while the tips are still green. That is where they haven't dried out.

The yellowing reminds me of both a plant lacking enough light and a plant with initial herbicide exposure.

No visible pests- however 2 full months ago I did spray the fern down with a mild soap solution for mealy bugs. I then cut off all but the youngest 5-6 fronds, as the bugs were in the older foliage anyways.

It is indoors in a cool room with decent lighting. Humidity is not ideal but the best I can do.

Anything sounds familiar? Thanks for any help. Would hate to lose it!

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Maybe its my eyes, but I can't really see your leaf clearly. Could it be spider mites? See if you could post a larger photo of the leaf.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 7:01PM
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Your eyes do not deceive you- the pic is terrible- and it is the best I can get with this camera! Blurry with reflection (white is reflection not spider mite damage). I looked acrefully- no pests at all...

I will try a larger version- if it doesn't work I guess I'm out of luck!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 8:23PM
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These need something like 70-80 percent relative humidity to do well from what I've heard. You might be okay letting it limp through in the winter and moving it outside in the summer.

Also the trunks are supposed to be large chunks of root mass and would benefit from getting sprayed down, apparently. Not the foliage so much, though.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 9:48PM
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I have heard that these plants are for a greenhouse more than a house, as they require such high humidity. That's why I wouldn't even think of attempting one in my dry winter rooms.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 10:17PM
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Yes the plan was to get it to basically limp through the winter indoors BUT I wasn't sure this was a symptom of low humidity- maybe it is?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 1:04AM
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Dirtslinger2..Actually, both leaves are gorgeous. You said the center is orange..Was it always orange. If not, could the color be bronze instead of orange?

Bronze discoloring is one indication Spider Mites are present. Check for webbing throughout entire fern..

Were you able to rid Mealy? Chemical insecticides are harsh. Ferns, being fragile plants may have negative results. Of course, if you tried other methods, organically, that didn't work, guess I can see why you'd go chemical. Well, not really, lol...I don't use chemical insectides.

Another reason plants acquire insects..dry air. Lack of humidity.
Spray leaves daily, and shower. I take plants to the sink, spray with hose. Especially humidity-loving plants.

You can also place your fern atop a pebble trey/saucer. Have you tried this?

Can you post a pic of your fern? Leaves are very pretty. I love ferns, but know my limit. I was given a dwarf, Australian Tree Fern last summer. It looks nothing like it did upon arrival. lol. I removed a couple, brown stems. Apparently, it needs more spraying. More than once a day. It's also on a pebble tray. They're not the easiest ferns to grow indoors. Toni

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 2:28PM
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http://www.tropicalcentre.com/boomvarens/abouttreeferns.htm This talks about tree fern trunks. Apparently it's only Dicksonias that need the trunks watered and not Cyatheas.

Anyway, I have a B. Gibbum, which isn't a true tree fern, but it's close enough. It gets the same issues. The brown tips are almost certainly from low humidity and pests are unlikely to be the culprit (or the main culprit if present).

But yeah, just keep the humidity as high as you can within safe limits (50%?) and try watering the trunk. Odds are it'll look terrible but you can probably keep it alive until summer.

(I never really tried watering my B. Gibbum's trunk. That might explain why it started being more finnicky the more trunk it developed. Worth investigating).

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 2:15PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

An academic quibble maybe...but IS it a 'Tasmanian tree fern'? Looks like a New Zealand species to me - Dicksonia squarrosa - but you'd have to provide a couple of much sharper focused photos to be absolutely sure. If it really is the NZ variety, as I suspect, you have the small consolation of it being slightly less impossible to maintain a very small specimen indoors compared to the utterly impractical Tasmanian equivalent. You'll never manage a trunked Dicksonia antarctica for long in a dry and gloomy indoor houseplant berth. Can't be done - no ammount of spraying will compensate for the unsuitably hostile conditions. But provided you can relocate your hypothetical D.squarrosa to a cooler, brighter and damper spot, it is within the boundaries of possibility to keep this species going in an indoor plantroom environment. It can't tolerate normal houseplant conditions indefinitely, though.

Incidentally, I left you some information over on the fern forum, where you originally raised this question.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 4:20PM
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