Cutting roots off of potted Tree Fern?

nokiMay 26, 2014

I have what they sell as a Cyathea cooperi 'Brentwood'. I've kept it in a pot during the winter in my garage where is survives (barely last cold winter) dormant and put it outside May to October, in a pot or even in the ground. It has grown well considering, it grew well outside with some sun in the ground, now in the 5th spring. It survived 4 winters in my garage, last year all the fronds died since it was so cold, a few years before that it was too warm during winter and went out of dormancy by February and the fronds all wilted. But it grows well outside, loves the sun.

Now the trunk is a good 12" high, and it has grown one frond this month and is starting a second. All of the old fronds died during the very cold winter.

The big problem is the root ball, a heavy solid root bound mass. Can I saw off roots to make this easier to manage, hard to deal with an 80+ pound plant. Could this be good to cut off some of the solid mass of roots? I've read that they can even saw some tree ferns off at ground level and get them to grow again. Would this be an option with this fern? What time of year would be best to do something, seems weak now after the rough winter.

I just want to see if I can keep this cool Tree Fern growing for years to come. Otherwise I guess I could just get the biggest pot available and wheel it around, but even then it would become rootbound quickly. Thanks for any advice.

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You can't cut off a Cyathea. The ones that can be cut off are Dickensonia.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:28AM
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Well, cutting off the tree would be a last resort, but I was hoping that it could at least handle such extreme stress.

How about sawing off the edges of the solid root mass? Better in spring or autumn?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:13AM
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I don't know with Cyathea. There is probably a point where root trimming is okay but more starts to damage the tree (unlike Dickensonia). I'll make enquiries with some people who are real experts on that issue and get back to you.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 5:39PM
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Not everyone seems to agree on the issue, it is risky. But if you cut away the excess root mass, put it in a pot with loamy soil in the bottom and then fill in around the sides shaking (vibrating) it to settle the soil down and fill the gaps. Then you can water it in, keep it humid, and it should be okay. They're a beautiful plant. Best of luck with it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 4:57PM
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