How to Divide Large Ferns in Fall

How to Divide Large Ferns in Fall

How To Divide Large Ferns In The Fall – Create New Plants Now For Next Year!


Ferns are a popular choice for gardening enthusiasts due to their lush green foliage and ability to thrive in shady areas. They add a touch of elegance and serenity to any garden or indoor space. If you have large ferns that have started taking over their designated area, it might be time to divide them. Dividing large ferns not only helps in managing their size but also allows you to create new plants that you can use in other areas of your garden or share with fellow plant enthusiasts.

Why Divide Ferns in the Fall?

Fall is the ideal time to divide large ferns because they are entering a period of dormancy. Dividing them during this time allows them to focus their energy on establishing their root systems before the spring growth season begins. It’s crucial to divide ferns before the first frost, as excessively cold temperatures can have a negative impact on their health. By dividing your ferns in the fall, you’re giving the new plants ample time to develop strong roots and adjust to their new environment before the next growing season.

Step-by-Step Guide to Dividing Large Ferns

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you successfully divide your large ferns:

1. Prepare the Tools

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools:
  • Garden shears or pruners
  • Garden gloves
  • Small shovel or garden trowel
  • Watering can or hose

2. Choose the Right Time

As mentioned earlier, fall is the best time to divide ferns. Aim to do it at least four to six weeks before the first expected frost date in your area. This timeframe allows the new plants to establish before the colder weather sets in.

3. Water the Ferns

A day or two before dividing your ferns, water them thoroughly. Moist soil makes it easier to lift and separate the root mass.

4. Dig Around the Fern

With your shears or pruners, cut back any fronds that are touching the ground. Carefully dig around the fern, keeping a safe distance from the outer edge to avoid damaging the root system. Use the small shovel or garden trowel to gently loosen the soil.

5. Divide the Fern

Once you’ve loosened the soil around the fern, lift it out of the ground. Inspect the root mass for natural divisions or sections that can be separated. Use your hands or a sharp blade to divide the fern into smaller plants. Each divided section should have at least two to three healthy fronds and a well-developed root system.

6. Replant and Water

Choose suitable locations for the new ferns in your garden. Dig holes that are slightly larger than the root mass of each division and gently place them into the holes. Make sure the top of the root mass is level with the soil surface. Backfill the holes with soil and gently firm it around the roots. Give the newly planted ferns a thorough watering to help settle the soil and remove air pockets.

My 2 Cents

Dividing large ferns in the fall is a beneficial practice that allows you to maintain the size and health of your plants while also creating new additions to your garden. Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind:
  • Divide ferns every three to five years to prevent overcrowding.
  • Mulch around the ferns after dividing to retain moisture and insulate the roots during winter.
  • Water newly divided ferns regularly, especially during dry periods, to aid in their establishment.
  • Consider sharing your extra fern divisions with friends or neighbors who are looking to expand their plant collection. It’s a great way to foster a sense of community and share the joy of gardening.
By following these steps and tips, you can successfully divide large ferns in the fall and create new plants for next year. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of ferns in your garden without worrying about them taking over!