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Exotic Plants & Tree Ferns

Dicksonia antartica (Tree Fern)

Dicksonia antartica is probably one of the coolest looking tree ferns out there, looking like it has stepped straight out of a prehistoric world. This large fern grows just like a tree with a central stem and fronds emerging from the top. In the wild tree ferns are usually found in moist areas besides rivers, creeks and in cloud forests growing up to 15 feet tall with a canopy as wide as its height. Originating from Australia the tree fern population has declined due to over-zealous sellers and destruction of its habitat. Here at Stones Garden Centre we specialise in Tree Ferns and make sure that our trees come from sustainable sources.

Care and Maintenance

Water: It’s a heavy drinker so make sure plenty of water is available.
Light: Sun or Partial Shade
Care: Removed damaged fronds
Design Tip: Use as a focal plant.

Other Exotic Plants

Within this section we will be talking about hardy’ish tropical plants that we can grow in the UK. Most of which mentioned here we have in stock.

Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan fan palm)

Pictured here is one of the most architecturally interesting plants that survives well, although hardy we recommend wrapping the top in bubble wrap over winter to protect it

Catalpa bignoniodes
or Catalpa “Bungei” (Bean Tree)

This tree has very large distinctive leaves, if you cut back the new growth to the trunk every year the new growth will have enormous leaves. It is a slow growing tree with large umbrella shaped leaves suitable for a small garden to give a shady jungle feel.

Phyllostachys nigra / Phyllostachys aurea (Black Bamboo / Golden Bamboo)

Bamboo’s look great in an exotic garden, be careful not to buy invasive species though. Small clumping varieties such as Phylostachys nigra which has black stems looks great and doesn’t spread too far; to be safe plant it in a container. Another alternative is Phyllostachys aurea which has golden stems and small leaves similar to that of the black variety. Keep these well watered in easily draining soil.

Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan fan palm)

Looks very similar to that of the Cheese Plant that you usually keep as a houseplant, with large, glossy evergreen leaves it gives a tropical background in the garden all year. You could also try out its climbing cousin Fatshedera.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Arum Lillies)

With swan-like white flowers this lilly is evergreen in sheltered spots; with flowers appearing from Spring through to Summer.

Musa basjoo (Banana Trees)

Although not strictly hardy these trees will survive outside during winter as long as they are kept wrapped. With large spear shape leaves they make an attractive focal piece. Once established the Musa may even produce a few bananas; however these can be quite small and ornamental. Keep and eye on the base of these plants as if the soil isn’t free draining enough it may rot the base and woodlouse will finish your tree off.


Most exotics like free draining, slightly acidic soil. They should be kept in the sun.


Exotics such as the banana plants need regular watering to sustain the large tropical leaves and produce sweet tasting fruit. Water slowly every 2-3 days over the summer months, you need to water if the top 1/2 inch to an inch is dry.

Feeding for Banana Plants

Use a high nitrogen rich fertiliser once a month during growing season and then cut back when the plants flower. Then switch to a high phosphorus or high potassium food.