How to transplant woodland ferns to home gardens

Written by dawn gibbs
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How to transplant woodland ferns to home gardens
Some woodland ferns are endangered. (sstevens3/iStock/Getty Images)

Wild ferns can be difficult to transplant. The conditions in which they thrive vary from species to species. It may be illegal to transplant some species of woodland ferns, due to previous over-collection; always check with the Forestry Commission or landowner before transplanting a fern to make sure it's legal for you to do so. The best time to transplant a wild woodland fern is in the very early spring, immediately after the last frost.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Garden tiller
  • Spade
  • Tarpaulin sheet or wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost

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  1. 1

    Dig a trench in a circle around the wild fern, using a garden tiller or hand spade. Make the circle at least 1.2 metres (4 feet) in diameter with the fern at the centre.

  2. 2

    Dig underneath the fern with a shovel, using the trench as a starting point. When you encounter roots, stop digging horizontally and make the hole deeper. Disturb the roots as little as possible.

  3. 3

    Lever the fern on to a tarpaulin sheet or into a wheelbarrow. Do not loosen any soil from the roots.

  4. 4

    Select a site in your garden that most closely resembles the area from which you removed the wild fern. Replicate the amount of sunshine the site receives. If the soil in the woods is very fertile, add a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of compost and till it into the area before planting.

  5. 5

    Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, and just as deep. Lower the plant into the hole without disturbing the soil attached to the roots. Fill the hole with soil and firm it gently around the base of the plant. Water until the soil settles.

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