How To Transplant & Move A Fern

If you are planning on transplanting a fern, there are a number of things that you will need to know before getting started. This can be a somewhat tricky process, so it helps to get all the information you can. 

These plants make an excellent addition to any garden, but moving them needs to be done with care.

Knowing Your Fern

Before you do anything related to transplanting, you will need to know what type of fern you have. This will make the whole process much easier overall. It will also provide you with some idea of the plant’s hardiness. A vast majority of ferns can be grown in climate zones 3 through 12.

Choosing the Right Time

It is crucial that you select the right time to move your fern. While this can technically be done at almost any time, it is best to do it while the plant is actively growing. Make sure that you start doing this later in the day when the sun isn’t shining brightly. This will reduce the chances of your plant succumbing to shock, which can be a big problem.

Consider transplanting your fern in the fall, or whenever your area tends to get the most rain. This way you won’t have to worry so much about keeping your plant hydrated and nourished after doing this. Wait until the leaves have already started changing colors.

If you choose to do this in the spring, you’ll have to water the plant on a regular basis over the summer. Regular watering will go a long way towards helping to establish your plant as it adjusts to its new home.

Spring time is ideal for transplanting indoor ferns. You’ll want to wait until the plant has started to outgrow its container before doing this. Transplanting your fern prematurely can be very dangerous to its overall well being.

The Soil

You’ll also need to keep in mind that the soil you transplant your fern into should be the same as the kind it was previously in. This will really help with getting your plant to adjust as quickly as possible. Take the time to prepare the spot that you are going to put your fern in prior to dividing the clump.

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You will need to spade the soil to a minimum of 10 inches. You’ll want to put some compost a couple of inches down as well. Some organic materials like bark, pine needles, and leaves can help a lot with drainage. It will also improve the overall quality of the soil, which is always a good thing.

fern in a pot

Before You Start Digging

It is important that you water your fern before you begin digging it out of its current spot. Once you have transplanted the fern, it won’t be able to absorb water very well for the first week or so. You don’t need to drench the soil, but rather water it as you normally would. This will greatly increase your chances of success when doing this.

Digging Out the Plant

When taking the plant out of its current spot, make sure you do so using a sharp spade. It is crucial that you dig in straight motions so as to keep the roots intact. Dig around the plant, lifting it gently out with your hands. When you put the plant into its new spot, make sure that the rhizomes and roots go down to the same depth as before.

If you are having difficulty getting the fern out, you can always try holding the container upside down while tapping the bottom. Make sure that you are holding the base of the plant’s leaves when doing this. You can also try tapping the container against a hard flat surface to encourage the plant to come out. Remember to be very gentle when handling this plant’s leaves, as they can be quite fragile.

When you remove the plant, you should get rid of any soil that is clinging to the roots. You can do this by simply running them under some water with a hose. Be very careful when you are handling the roots so as not to damage them at all.

After rinsing off the fern’s roots, you should check to see what type of root system it is. There are three kinds of root systems—spreading, clumping, and rhizomatous. 

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Once you have transplanted your fern, you’ll need to give it plenty of water. Make sure that the soil where the roots are gets saturated with water. These plants need about one inch of water each week, provided it doesn’t rain at all. Keep in mind that if you place your fern in direct sunlight, you will have to water it more often. Ferns that are grown in full or partial shade don’t typically need quite as much water.

Fertilizing Your Fern

Once you start seeing new growth with your fern, you will want to begin fertilizing it. It is best to use fertilizer with a slow release formula and a ratio of 14-14-14. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the label exactly to avoid any major issues. Excessively fertilizing your plant can do a lot of damage to it, so you’ll need to keep this in mind.


When transplanting a fern, it is very important to choose the right time. If you have an indoor fern, spring time is best. Outdoor ferns can be moved in fall. If you decide to transplant an outdoor fern in the spring, you should be prepared to water it regularly come summer. Make sure that you put the plant into the same soil as it is used to, as this will reduce the risk of shock.

Before you start digging the plant out the ground, you’ll want to water it. It is important that you dig in straight motions to avoid doing any damage to the roots. Water the plant after you have moved it to its new home. You should also fertilize the plant to encourage healthy and strong growth.

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