Asked on Apr 13, 2019

How can I make sure these ferns grow well?

Lynn SorrellLouiseDeanna


Last fall I divided one large fiddlehead fern into four plants and moved three parts of it to another location in my yard. The three I moved are doing sorta OK and even though I propped them up over the winter by putting tomato cages around them, they're falling over now. The three that were moved haven't formed new growth yet, but the part of the large original fern HAS formed new growth but the old green parts have fallen over. Question: On the one that's formed new growth, should I cut off the green parts that are lying on the ground? And what about the others? Should I cut them all back? And if so, how short should I cut them?

q how can i make sure these ferns grow well

This is one of the three parts that were transplanted. You see that it's still quite green, but has fallen over. No new growth yet.

q how can i make sure these ferns grow well

This one was also transplanted and has fallen over. No new growth yet but still has green from the fall -- upper right hand corner.

q how can i make sure these ferns grow well

The last of the transplanted ones. Not a lot of green, but some is still there but like the others, nearly everything is lying on the ground.

q how can i make sure these ferns grow well

This is what was left from the original fern. The brown parts are the new grown and you see the old parts are still green but lying on the ground. The red in the background is part of an azalea.

5 answers
  • Margaret
    on Apr 14, 2019

    I have those in a corner of my yard. I cut mine back every fall by running them over with the mower. That way, they come back each year with new upright growth. You will notice some of the fronds have male spore pockets on the back. You can gather some of them to bury just under the surface of your soil to start a new clump. Ours have memories attached from when we got the original clump from a creek by our house. It has moved to our church, to one other house before coming home to it's little corner here.

  • Some ferns that I've split and moved don't always take until the next spring, depending on when I've moved them? and I've also found it depends on where I've moved them? (Partial sun compared to full sun seems to do better for me in my area, the north east)

  • Deanna
    on Apr 14, 2019

    I agree with Margaret, I always cut the old brown fronds back,

    any new growth will appear from the main crown of the plant and not from the actual fronds.

    Leave anything that's green until it browns and dies back.

    I've had mine for over 30 years and they always return.

    Good Luck, just remember lots of shade and a slightly moist environment.

  • Louise
    on Apr 14, 2019

    Thanks for the info. Mine get plenty of shade and live a nice, moist and rich soil. :-)

  • Lynn Sorrell
    on Apr 14, 2019

    What kind is it?Identify young ostrich ferns shoots by the U-shaped groove on the interior of the stalk and the papery brown covering at the curled portion of the fern. Ostrich ferns grow at least 6 feet high, while lady ferns and bracken ferns reach no more than 1 to 3 feet high. Ostrich ferns have five to nine fronds that grow in a rosette shape, creating a funnel.only ostrich ferns produce true fiddlehead ferns. It looks healthy ,just leave them alone, they will fill in from the crown/center only cut off dead once it is completely dead. Fiddlehead ferns are so good to eat--Of all the wild edible plants, fiddlehead ferns are some of the most unique and flavorful. Fiddleheads are the unfurled new leaves of a fern. They vary in size, shape and edibility from species to species.

    What Types of Fiddlehead Ferns Are Good to Eat?

    If you look into a local field guide on plants of your region, chances are you have several species of ferns that show up in your region. The term "fiddlehead ferns" is a general description of any number of species, which might include Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Ostricth fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), shield fern (Dryopteris dilatata), and Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).

    Some scientists believe that Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) may be linked to higher incidences of stomach cancer, especially in some areas where large quantities of this plant are consumed. Although this is one of the most widespread and common species throughout the northern hemisphere, it should be consumed with caution, if at all.Fiddleheads are generally gathered in early spring time. They are also occasionally found in their prime for harvesting during the fall time in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA.Collect them when they are still tightly curled as they quickly become less palatable as they unfurl. Also, remove any of the brown, papery chaff from them outside. The most effective way to remove the chaff is by rubbing gently with the hands. Washing in cold water can also help.They can be eaten steamed, boiled, in soups, sautéed or stir-fried, fried or baked. A classic way to cook and serve them is sautéed with just some butter or oil and seasoning. This is a great way to try them for the first time. Also, you could try them cooked with bacon and/or garlic and wild mushrooms. They are also great on pizza, in scrambles, spaghetti sauce and casseroles.

    Make sure to cook them thoroughly, as uncooked fiddleheads contain thiaminase which is a vitamin B depleting enzyme. Heat destroys this enzyme and makes the them safe to eat.

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