How to Grow Cibotium – Hawaiian Tree Fern

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Cibotium–commonly called Hawaiian tree fern–is the most common fern found in its native Hawaii. It grows slowly to 20 feet tall with a crown that spreads to 15 feet wide. It has arching, finely divided fronds from 3 to 9 feet long. The fronds are medium green above and light beneath. Silky fawn-colored wool covers the leaf bases.

Where not hardy, Cibotium can be grown in a warm greenhouse. It can be grown as a specimen plant in subtropical and tropical gardens.

Cibotium is a genus of about 10 species of evergreen tree ferns.

Get to know Cibotium

  • Plant type: Fern
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 10-15
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 10
  • Height and width: 6 to 10 feet (2-6m) tall and 10 to 12 feet (3-4m) wide
  • Foliage: Very large, finely divide, ovate to triangular fronds
  • Uses: Specimen plant, containter plant
  • Common name: Hawaiian tree fern, Hapu’u, pulu
  • Botanical name: Cibotium
  • Family name: Dicksoniaceae
  • Origin: Tropical to warm temperate regions
Hawaiian tree fern, Cibotium glaucum

Where to plant Cibotium

  • Light outdoors: Provide bright filtered light and moderate humidity.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Cibotium in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil.
  • Light indoors: Provide bright filtered light and moderate humidity.
  • Soil indoors: Grow Cibotium in 1 part each of loan, medium-grade bark, and charcoal; 2 parts sharp sand, and 3 parts coarse leaf mold.

When to plant Cibotium

  • Set Cibotium outdoors in spring.

Planting and spacing Cibotium

  • Space Cibotium 10 to 12 feet (3-4m) apart.

How to water and feed Cibotium

  • Water Cibotium freely. Water sparingly in winter.
  • Fertilize Cibotium with a high-nitrogen fertilizer monthly.

Cibotium care

  • Top-dress or pot on Cibotium in spring.
  • If Cibotium outgrows its site, it can be reduced in height by air-layering the upper part of the rhizome.

Cibotium pests and diseases

  • Cibotium is occasionally affected by leaf spots.

Cibotium propagation

  • Sow spores at 70℉ (21℃) when ripe.

Cibotium varieties to grow

  • Cibotium glaucum, Hawaiian tree fern. Tree fern with an erect stem grows 6 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide; ovate-triangular mid-green fronds to 10 feet long; stem tips and bases of frond stalks are covered wtih golden hairs.
  • C. regale. Tree fern wither erect stesm corwned with ovate-triangular yellowish green fronds; grows 10 to 25 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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