Tuesday, 23 July 2013
The Miraculous Resurrection of Cyathea Australis
This plant was as far as I can tell extremely dead (Monty Python Parrot style). I bought it in spring last year and it proved both beautiful and extremely fickle. The web tells me this is perhaps the hardiest of tree ferns but slightly chilly nights (no frosts mind) browned the fronds immediately. It continued growing quite happily that summer and come late autumn it began loosing its fronds. Apparently this is completely natural and even in its native habitat it is often deciduous. Being particularly fond of this specimen I didn't want to risk protecting it outside (good thing too, my Dicksonia failed to survive the harsh winter) so I moved it into my grandma's house. There it had a good light yet still cool position but I struggled keeping the compost moist all the same. Having lost its fronds it looked dead but I still had hope it would regrow in spring.
But it didn't. Spring moved into early summer and I was quite sure it had perished, probably due to not receiving enough water. l plonked the pot outside and continued to forget about it for months. Last week I was already planning on using the big terracotta pot for something else and then I saw it. One tiny little frond unfurling from the seemingly lifeless stump. The compost and the stump itself were completely desert dry and I quickly flooded the pot a couple of times desperate to re-hydrate the compost. What triggered its resurrection? It might have been the heatwave like heat combined with the exceptionally scorching sun even if that is not exactly its natural habitat. The most important tip given on growing these is to never let it dry out. Yet this specimen was as dry as bone. I remain unsure about exactly what it is that this plant wants, I'll keep watering it this summer and hope there is still enough time for it to grow a couple of fronds before winter claims them. I'm not going to repot it right now because I don't want to stress the plant out any further. Maybe I can keep it green this summer if I move it inside at the right time providing a little bit more time for it to build up some reserves. Anyhow, I'm still flabbergasted it is alive at all.