Dividing ferns

Dividing plants in our gardens is an excellent and cost effective way of increasing our stock of an existing group of plants. For herbaceous plants, most people are used to using the method of diversion to increase their stocks but when it comes to ferns, they are too sure what to do

So here’s a quick and simple blog explaining how I recently did some at work.

It’s a pretty easy job to do and on a skill level of 1-5 with 1 being the easiest, I would rate this as a 2

Tools and equipment

  • Secateurs
  • Spade
  • Fork
  • Garden compost

Timing wise. It can be done with deciduous ferns any time they start dying back from the autumn until the spring. With evergreen ferns such as I am doing below, March early April is ideal, just when you are cutting them back

Here’s a clump of ferns with the crowns of the new plants circled in yellow marker. These crowns are what you are looking to divide off from the main clump.
First of all, using a fork rather than a spade, lift the clump of the ground
Then start pulling the clump apart. This can be done either using your bare hands, a couple of border forks back to back to ease them apart. If you are feeling brutal, you can even cut them apart using an old bread knife. I prefer to tease!
You will find they will quite easily come apart into their own little clumps,
Then it’s a case of adding a planting mulch to the bed, spreading it over the whole area and setting your plants out for replanting
Dig a square hole wide enough to be able to fit all the roots in. Depth wise it needs to be deep enough to replant the fern at the same depth it was when you lifted up the main clump. The square hole encourages the roots to break out from the corners into the surrounding soil.
Backfill around the fern using your fingers to push the soil into the gaps and hopefully it should look like the picture above! You can see the height I have planted this one at
Job done! From 5 original plants I managed to get 20 new ones and have used them to more effectively to create a larger drift of the ferns without spending any money. To buy the ferns instead would of cost about £120.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    This is something we try to finish in autumn, before the rain. If we do it now, they need to be watered for a long time, and die back anyway. All of our ferns come out of the forest.

    1. thomashort says:

      That’s good advice for places where you have hotter and drier summers 😀 it’s a drought here if we don’t have rain for a week lol

      1. tonytomeo says:

        It does not get very hot here, but it is arid. This is a chaparral climate. That makes the long rainless summer even drier.

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