Asked on Jul 19, 2013

Transplanting Wild Ferns

by Judy
I wonder if I could transplant some of my wild ferns and hang them in baskets. They suddenly appeared alongside my garden pond stream: and it would be fun to have some hanging fern baskets in my shaded backyard. Do you think they'd survive? We also have a lot of wild ferns growing in the ditches in shaded areas. I hate the thought of transplanting and simply killing them, so it would be nice if someone had some experience with transplanting wild ferns. :-)
Wild fern and wild geranium growing in ditch on nearby country road
Wild fern (and there are a ton of them!) growing in the ditches
Another wild fern that simply 'appeared' alongside the garden pond stream, on the mossy rocks.
  20 answers
  • Colleen Colleen on Jul 19, 2013
    Check the soil condition, some like acidic soil and thrive in moist shady areas.
  • Patricia W Patricia W on Jul 19, 2013
    We bought alot of wild ferns from a dealer for our nursery. They are pretty hardy, but keep them shaded. They love good rich loamy soil and keep it moist. Cut them back after they die off and enjoy!
  • From my experience wild ferns are best left on the ground and in the shade. Ferns are a great plant and I have many varieties that are in my hosta beds. Good luck with them. If you are going to transplant, I would wait for a day when it is going to rain to transplant. Otherwise wait until fall if you want to take less of a chance.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 19, 2013
    Thanks, everyone, for your opinions and suggestions!
  • Liz Holland Liz Holland on Jul 20, 2013
    I never had luck with my wild ferns in baskets, I keep them in the ground but I bought a couple of Boston ferns that are in pots, on sale 2 for $8, I keep them in shade and well watered and fed and now have 7 or 8 pots after dividing. I put some in my shaded beds to fill in bare spots!
  • Virginia A Virginia A on Jul 21, 2013
    I'm like Liz, I bought some potted ferns in Florida and kept dividing them over the years. Finally had so many that I planted them across the whole back of my screen room. In NH, I move ferns from my wooded area to the shady area in my yard. Haven't tried them in baskets, but as long as you are putting them in similar areas/conditions they should be happy.
  • Cindy Mcphetridge Cindy Mcphetridge on Jul 21, 2013
    We live in Oregon where wild ferns abound everywhere and we've not had a lot of luck transplanting them. Every so often they'll take, but they're usually not a sure thing. For whatever reason, they like to grow where they started from! If you do try to transplant them, I'd do it when your're going to have some cool wet weather for awhile and make sure they are in the shade.
  • Bobbie Bobbie on Jul 21, 2013
    I recently (2 weeks back) transplanted some wild ferns,. We have had a very rainy summer so far and they appear to be doing well. Planted them under a large Bradford Pear. Will keep check to see how they do.
  • Sandra R Sandra R on Jul 21, 2013
    We transplants ferns all the time. They actually grow out of the bark of our palm tree.
  • Diane Diane on Jul 21, 2013
    I replanted a wild Cinnamon fern. Even though I live in S. Florida, I made sure I dug up plenty of dirt with the roots. It seemed to be very sandy, with a lot of moist natural compost from the woods.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 21, 2013
    I think I'll wait until next spring and then dig up some of the roadside ferns before they've unfurled. There are tons of them, so I suppose if a couple are put in baskets (and kept moist and in the shade) it won't be a total loss if they fail to thrive. Then I'd know for sure and only waste 2 ferns. Still, I always feel a little sad when I kill a plant.
    • LaVerne DeHart LaVerne DeHart on Aug 12, 2013
      @Judy I'd definitely give that a try....good luck. P.S. I have tons of wild ferns on the shady side of my house and I've given many away when they were still curled up (spring) and they were put back in some other people's yards, that worked just fine. Their roots are not that deep. Just go ahead and try one and then you'll know!
  • Karen Karen on Jul 21, 2013
    I moved my grandmother's ferns from WI to MI and put several in a shaded area. They lasted a few years and then I moved the last three to my berm. They are under my peony bushes and only get morning sun, then are shaded. I water them a lot and treasure them since grandma is gone now.
    • Pau49409234 Pau49409234 on Dec 04, 2021

      Aww that’s awesome and they just keep growing what a wonderful memory plant ..

  • Kay Love-Wood Kay Love-Wood on Jul 27, 2013
    Never had any luck with wild ferns in baskets. There are so many types of ferns that I gave up trying with the wild ones. One of my favors is Japanese Painted Ferm. Look for it, and it comes back and can be divided once it gets some size on it.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 27, 2013
    Thanks. I'm going to stop being such a cheapskate and go buy some ferns in baskets. :-)
    • Pau49409234 Pau49409234 on Dec 04, 2021

      Experimenting is fun and not always cheap me I kill to many plants so I just buy as well .. good luck which ever way you do..

  • Norma Jean Savitsky Norma Jean Savitsky on Jul 28, 2013
    I have been trying to weed my ferns but they break off when I try to pull them out. They are taking over my shade garden. Any ideas?
  • When I weed I wait until it rains so that it is easier to pull out weeds. What ferns do you have? Wild ones? You may want to dig most of the ferns up and transplant them or put an ad to barter for other shade plants this fall. Once a plant takes over, I have found that the only way to remedy the situation is to take the plants out and put something similar back in (I love Japanese painted ferns which spread but can easily be controlled and divided). If you love the ferns then I would suggest leave a certain number of the plants in and dig out the rest and every so often go in an dig;/pull out the extras.
  • Judy Judy on Jul 29, 2013
    I have wild ferns only. In fact, in ferns just 'showed up.' It's so shaded there, and I imagine the spores were in the soil. Anyway, good idea about pulling weeds after a rain. I've done that too and find it much easier. I'll take your advice about the ferns. Thanks.
  • Judy Judy on Aug 12, 2013
    Sounds like the best idea. :-) Thanks LaVerne.
  • Eric Olsen Eric Olsen on Nov 24, 2018

    I live in Oregon and have a house on the coast and willamette valley I have 25 acres and have transplanted probably hundreds of sword ferns they transplant very easy in fall through early spring I am befuddled by comments regarding difficulty

  • Pamela Andres-Sigala Pamela Andres-Sigala on Apr 26, 2020

    What are the round looking things on bottom and sides. Look like grapes?

    • Pau49409234 Pau49409234 on Dec 04, 2021

      Did you ever find out about what the ball looking things were on your plant?? The picture is very dark what kind of plant is this??