Ferns: Replanting Ferns ?

Discussion in 'Plants with Spores (Ferns, Mosses, et al.)' started by dt-van, May 9, 2020.

  1. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    I have several ferns whose crowns have gradually built up so that they are now sprouting out 4" to 8" above the surrounding soil. The ferns are still healthy and producing lots of new fronds, but they look a bit funny, so I'd like to replant them deeper if it is practical to do so and not likely to injure the plants. It's a relatively small yard, so raising the soil level in the beds by more than an inch or two isn't really practical.

    The main ferns with this 'problem' are my Tatting Fern Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizelliae', Holly Fern Polystichum neolobatum, and Crested Soft Shield Fern Polystichum setiferum. The latter two are both 25 years old, very large, and I don't think they have ever been moved. Does anyone know how big and how deep the root ball of such a fern would be?

    If I was going to reset them, what would be the best time of year to do it - November?, Feb/March? Does it make a difference whether the fern is deciduous like the tatting fern, or evergreen like the other two?
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    How wonderful that you possess such amazing old ferns! I believe yours are growing as they are meant to grow naturally, strange as they may look. If you were to dig them up and replant them lower in the ground, it could result in their demise. With few exceptions, ferns and all plants should be positioned in the soil at the point where the roots emerge . . . planting them higher would leave some roots exposed; planting them lower could smother the roots and invite fungal pathogens an opportunity to invade.

    Isn't the 4 to 8-inch height above the surrounding soil you talk about camouflaged once the fronds unfurl? If the crowns seem unsightly before that, consider applying a very light mulch of cut up leaves or old fern fronds.

    The best time of year to move ferns is either late fall or early spring before the new fronds leaf out. They have a tight rootball that could become pretty heavy after many years but not impossible for someone with a strong back to dig up and move. It is important though to replant ferns - and all plants - at the same level in the soil as they occupied previously. Even if it looks weird. :-)
     
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  3. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    I agree w Margot reply

    I would not put the ferns deeper in to the soil

    Maybe put some sweet woodruff ground cover (dies back in winter and looks nice in summer) around them
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Further to prev post

    Here are some photos of how I deal with old reliable sword ferns in a damp shaded area

    Granted — this is a dull wasteland in the winter - so we appreciate the joy it is now

    Plants include
    (Pls forgive lack of proper Latin names)

    Sword fern (local native and evergreen) - highly recommend

    Unknown tender spring summer fern

    Maiden hair fern in large container

    Heuchera (likely palace purple or bronze something )

    Columbine about to bloom purple flowers

    Salal - native evergreen - highly recommend

    Ladies mantle Alchemilla mollis (spell ?)

    Sweet woodruff (white flowers)

    I think some euphorbia dulcis chameleon volunteers

    A bleeding heart - the large size

    Geranium (perennial - likely a blue flower)

    Hosta (I think Midwest magic and also stained glass - tho it could be my fav Guacamole )

    There is a red twig dogwood nearby — Arctic fire - I think

    And my fav small easy tree - vine maple (acer circinatum - native to parts of B.C. )

    Plus a small rhodo x 2

    And a Santa Claus fuchsia that I know stays outdoors in parts of Oregon but for me I need to take it into cool shelter in a pot for winter

    And Blushing bride hydrangea

    To which will be added some annual coleus in bright lime and burgundy and strawberry Colors (thé Boulevard séries I think)

    So that’s my LONG way of saying how I make ferns fit in with their tall root system stem area!
     

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  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    @Georgia Strait, Hi Georgia, your photos show a really lovely cool relaxing area of your garden. My wife and I love this effect.
    These are a few of our ferns. Hope you like them. Shuttle cock fern, Metallicum ,Bergundy Lace and painted Lady.
     

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