How to Transplant Ostrich Ferns

With fronds that grow over 5 feet tall, the ostrich fern is one of the tallest ferns cultivated for gardens. This fern creates a deep cool landscape in shaded or partially shaded gardens. The green fronds grow in a clump, forming a vase-like shape. These graceful fronds are commonly used in floral arrangements. Like most ferns, the ostrich fern is deciduous, dying back in winter. In some climates, however, brown fronds may remain throughout the winter, providing shelter for wildlife. The new shoots, or fiddleheads, of the ostrich fern are edible in the early spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch


    • 1

      Loosen the soil in a new location with a shovel to a depth of 18 inches in the spring just as the new fronds emerge and the ground is warm enough to be worked. Ostrich ferns need partial to full sun. Too much sun will burn the ostrich fern's green leaves, causing them to look unattractive. Ostrich ferns grow throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 10, according to Botanical Journeys.

    • 2

      Amend soil the soil with a layer of 3 to 4 inches of compost. This will improve the composition of the soil as well as drainage. The organic matter of the compost will also add nutrients to the soil.

    • 3

      Dig a hole for each ostrich fern you plan to transplant. Make the holes approximately 12 inches deep and space them at least 3 feet apart.Ostrich ferns spread, and placing them too close together will force them to compete for nutrients and water.

    • 4

      Dig at least a 12-inch diameter around each ostrich fern using a shovel. Capture as many roots as possible. Ostrich ferns grow from thick fleshy roots called rhizomes. Each rhizome is capable of producing a new fern.

    • 5

      Move your ostrich fern to its new location and bury it at the same depth it was growing in its previous hole. Add or take away dirt from the hole as necessary. Fill in the hole with dirt and pat it down firmly. Water the ostrich fern well to collapse any air pockets in the soil.

    • 6

      Spread a layer of 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the ostrich fern. This will help regulate soil temperatures and soil moisture.

    • 7

      Keep the soil around your ostrich ferns moist. Ostrich ferns grow best in moist, well-drained soil. Not enough water will cause them to go dormant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't eat any fern fiddleheads in the wild unless you're sure no pesticides or other chemicals have been sprayed.
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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images

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