Need help moving ferns

academy562(5)May 10, 2006

I moved to a new house last summer and I'm dealing with some rather, um, interesting gardening decisions of the previous owners. The one most relevant to this forum is the fact that they planted numerous large ferns, hostas, and lily of the valley directly next to the foundation of the house. The bed is quite large but the outer 1/3 or so is bare while the 1/3 next to the house is jam-packed with foliage.

I tried to move a particularly large fern in the fall when we were moving downspouts due to drainage problems, but it didn't survive transplanting. Is my only option to thin next to the foundation or should I actually be able to move those ferns to the outer edge of the garden bed?

Similarly, there are a few ferns that have come up in the middle of hostas...should I just pull and destroy them or do you think I could transplant to bare spots? I have successfully divided some of the hostas and will continue working on them but would really like to salvage the ferns as well. I have no idea what kind of ferns I'm working with (sorry!)... they just look like run of the mill boston ferns to me but I think the one I killed may have been an ostrich plume based on what I have read. Thanks so much for any suggestions!

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What sort of ferns are they? Most ferns when small they can easily be dug up and moved. If they are too thick, cut them out. They roam and will take over. Some ferns come up from roots if moved in the Fall. Spring is better in my experience. Ostrich are easiest to move, but large ones are not worth moving. I dig the babies our and pot them up for pots on my porch. A never ending supply!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 12:24PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

If they are large ferns and have sprung up in your Hostas they are most likely ostrich ferns. They are easy to move, but I don't know what might have happened last fall.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 10:57PM
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I don't know what kind... not sure how to ID them. There are a few that are enormous upright plumes, as well as many others that are smaller & spread out flatter. The majority just look like generic ferns to me. Sorry, I am obviously no expert in this regard!

A few have migrated into the yard so I am thinking I will try my hand at digging them out & moving since my last attempt at transplantation was a dismal failure. Can't seem to find any specifics about how to physically go about it.... anything I need to be careful of when I start digging? They are very pretty but not in a good spot and in some places over-crowded. Since I have lots of bare spots, I'd really like to make use of the extra plants rather than destroy them!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 1:05PM
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I am guessing they are Ostrich ferns. Of the several variety I grow they are the travelers. Look for small crowns that have a leaf or two coming up only an inch or two. Dig with a shovel or trowel the depth of the shovel next to the crown and scoop them out root and all. If they are in grass you will want to brush the grass from the roots. Then bury them at the same depth they were. Water daily for a week. You should be good to go. You MAY get a larger crown, leaf combo to survive but it is not as easy. WATER WATER WATER is the key. In some areas if they die off this year a new fern may come up from the root next year. That will depend on soil type and drainage. Again the younger and earlier in the season you try the more success you will have.
Let us know. If they are not brown in a week or two after transplanting you did it!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 2:36PM
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fernsk(z2 Canada)


Do these Ostrich Ferns have huge root systems that form a maze and can be "hairy"? I've been in a couple of other forums asking about landscape design and some plants, but have begun digging out a perennial bed that is going to be made smaller and have a sidewalk poured over part of it. I started digging out my perennials and encountered these "runners" this is a massive root system. I was just going to move the ferns to a new bed but if they do this I don't think that I will. So 2 questions

1. Are these roots likely all from the Ferns? They and the gout weed [I know huge error] are the only plants that "pop up" all over the place.

2. Are there Ferns that stay put and are civilized? Especially the Japanese painted Fern?

Thanks for any info

Fern [ironically enough]

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 10:01AM
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Ostrich ferns are wanderers. Chances are that was one of their runners you found. Maidenhair, christmas, interrupted, lady, tatting all stay put for me like the japanese painted. I dig the clump up, divide and put them where I want them.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 2:28PM
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