Transplanting ferns

Discussion in 'Plants with Spores (Ferns, Mosses, et al.)' started by KirstyP, Nov 30, 2021.

  1. KirstyP

    KirstyP New Member

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    A pair of very stately willows have been removed from the south end of our local park. These willows were among the biggest I have ever seen, one was cut, one a victim of our windstorm a couple of weeks ago. It was very hard to see them lying there, as they have provided respite for so many- my son was very upset. My question is whether or not it would be viable to transplant some of the ferns that grow on their trunks? I would like to rescue some of them from the shredder, either to relocate within the park, or to grow in my garden, if a dry shady south garden would support them, or a north facing garden with dappled light. They have a good inch of substrate over the tree bark and appear to be very healthy. Thank you for any advice!
     

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  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I think it's great that you're willing to take the time to save some of these special, slow-growing ferns.

    Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), a fern native to BC. It can often be found on trees, especially Big Leaf Maple, old mossy stumps and even on mossy rocks and ground where the conditions are right. Because it grows from a rhizome (underground stem) just below the moss, the roots are quite easy to capture when relocating it. You may notice that the fronds grow singly from the rhizome (polypody means something like 'many little feet').

    If you can, find a wide container (with drainage holes) 4 to 6 inches deep and fill with humusy soil. Mix in a little dolomite lime or even a sprinkle of bulb fertilizer to provide extra calcium. Press the patch of fern down into the soil without disturbing it and place the container in a sheltered place to overwinter. If it is under cover, make sure it doesn't dry out. It could stay there for a year or more or you could move it a drier spot in your garden once it is established in the pot. Either way, try to keep it moist the first year, to be on the safe side. Don't worry if the leaves die back in late spring.

    Licorice ferns grow in part shade to sun but the leaves will go dormant in the summer if they don't get enough water. New leaves begin emerge in late summer - a fresh surprise for me every year because I never expect plants to begin their season so late.
     
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  3. KirstyP

    KirstyP New Member

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    Thank you so much for this Margot- immensely helpful. So wonderful to know they are licorice ferns- they are so beautiful, I always stop to admire them. It makes me happy to think they have a chance at survival with the method you mentioned, they are such perfection on the tree that I thought they might be symbiotic. I did notice some funny little spiky roots beyond where the 'carpet' pulled up, so amazing. I love that 'many little feet' somehow it never occurred to me. I've never fertilized bulbs- would a 4-10-6 work, or would they prefer the lime (if I can find dolomite)?

    Its sounds like I should avoid my initial idea of putting them on a host log. I will put them in some sedum type flats. It was extraordinary how they came up, such a marvel, very dense and heavy. There is something incredible about them emerging so late!

    Thank you so much again for the guidance.
     
  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I hope this is a successful mission

    it certainly does not hurt to try at this point

    i vote for placing them in your NORTH dappled garden

    i wonder if you see the tree service people — if they would cut some of the wood with fern in place and you wheel barrow it home ?

    eccentric I know - I like it!
    Lots of people would wish for those ferns
     
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  5. KirstyP

    KirstyP New Member

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    I am going down in the evenings because they surrounded the area with police tape, which made me thin they wouldn't appreciate any requests. But so true, it gets heavy. I walked home with just three 'pieces' and they were about 40 pounds. I was worried they would get crushed so if I can get any more, I will take them in the car. If anyone is close, I would be happy to share. (Thank you for the North garden suggestion! I was very pleased to hear they could be planted directly in the soil. They seem so delicate and particular, I'd hate to stress them out..)
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
  6. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I like @Georgia Strait's idea of taking the fern still attached to a branch except that its weight could be an issue. If you do get a piece like that, I'd bury it at least halfway horizontally in the soil so the branch and fern would be easier to keep moist. Here's a Polypodium glycyrrhiza which has been growing on a hilly bank in full sun and still isn't much larger than when I transplanted it there at least 5 years ago.
    Polypodium glycerhiza 10-2021  .JPG
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
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  7. KirstyP

    KirstyP New Member

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    What a beautiful idea! They look so lovely and natural on your hillside... and doing so well in the sun. I love the idea by Georgia Straight as well, these ones detach with a very thick substrate but the bark is nearly immovable. They are growing on the pieces of the trunk, easily eight feet around- too heavy to move. (Though we managed to take one section, that was about 150 pounds.) The city has already taken away the smaller limbs. I could half bury that section and surround it with ferns. There are a lot! I have difficult conditions in my yard, so I hope they'll be ok. I might take some more and try to put them in similar places around the lake. There aren't a lot of them there though.

    Margot, you mentioned that they were slow growing- do they spread?

    (If anyone wants some of these beauties, feel free to dm me! I am in East Vancouver.)
     
  8. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Yes, the rhizomes slowly grow and spread where they can, producing single fronds as they go. I really love these little ferns not only for the fact that they are so perky in winter but because they're so pretty too. Here is another polypodium that I've found growing at my place - even smaller than Polypodium glycyrrhiza called P. hesperium (if my ID is correct). It has doubled in size in 15 years. Quite a treasure!

    I hope others will take you up on your offer to rescue the ferns you discovered lately. They should be healthy for quite a while if the parks workers don't remove them first.

    Polypodium hesperium 10-2021  .JPG
     
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  9. KirstyP

    KirstyP New Member

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    Oh, so wonderful, they are just the sweetest plants! (This might explain the mystery of a tiny fern I planted in a pot in my back garden that looks utterly happy but has been the exact same size for four years..)
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    A number of our native ferns benefit from the addition of calcium to the soil. It's hard to advise exactly how much; add sparingly. Sources include lime, dolomite lime, lime chips (never seen those myself), crushed oyster shells and (if you can get some without buying a whole box) bulb fertilizer. Don't bother with eggshells because they release calcium so slowly as to be useless.
     
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