How to Transplant a Fern Tree


Ferns come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Many types of fern make nice selections for indoor houseplants, but others require adequate space in the landscape to reach their full height. Very large ferns can grow as tall as 18 feet and produce fronds that measure 2 to 3 feet in length. These interesting specimens may require transplanting from one are of your landscape to another. Use proper procedure to avoid damaging these delicate plants when you change their living quarters.

Step 1

Prepare the soil in the new location before digging up your fern plant. Use a soil test to get accurate readings and recommendations for soil amendments. Fern trees prefer pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5 and rich, well-drained soils. Add organic materials, such as shredded bark or wood chips, to loosen heavy, clay soils and increase the level of acidity in the soil. Add some limestone to increase the alkalinity of very acidic soils. Work these amendments into the top 8 to 10 inches of soil.

Step 2

Transplant your fern tree in the springtime. Water your fern tree the day before transplanting. Thoroughly soak the soil around the roots 18 to 24 hours before the time you intend to transplant the tree.

Step 3

Dig your fern tree out of the soil. Use a sturdy shovel to cut through the layer of sod over the rootball. Make your cut under the outer perimeter of your fern tree's canopy to include the majority of roots. Leave plenty of soil around the rootball to avoid shocking the tree during transplantation. Lift your fern tree out of its hole by grasping the rootball, rather than the exposed portion of growth. Set your large rootball in a wheelbarrow to allow easy and careful transportation to its new location.

Step 4

Dig a hole the same depth as your plant's rootball. Make the hole at least twice as wide as the rootball. Carefully set your fern tree in the center of the hole. Fill in the area around the fern's roots with your amended soil. Pack down well to expel any air pockets.

Step 5

Water your transplanted fern tree immediately. Thoroughly soak the soil and the roots with water. Apply a layer of loose mulch, such as wood chips or straw, over the surface of the soil to help hold in moisture if you live in an arid climate.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test
  • Shredded bark or wood chips
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Straw


  • Ferntastic: Fern Care
  • North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on Ferns
  • North Dakota State University Extension: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • "Botanica's Gardening Encyclopedia;" Susan Page; 2001

Who Can Help

  • University of Georgia: Growing Ferns
Keywords: transplant fern tree, grow fern tree, fern care

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.