dennis goos dennis_goos at
Thu Feb 8 12:32:15 EST 1996

William Barrett <barrew4l at> wrote:

>I'm having trouble growing some ferns I got out of the woods.  The 
>fiddleheads tend to stop growing after they get their little heads above 
>the soil surface.  Got any ideas?????

>Please E-mail me.
>barrew4l at

I would guess that what your seeing is the consequence of destroying a large
portion of the effectve root structure - not the roots in total - just the part
doing the work. The fern is making an adjustment to the new circumstances by
dropping its plans to grow new fronds so that it can expend more energy on
repairing root damage. When the roots are repaired ,they'll send up new
Some years ago,when collecting wild ferns for landscape use, we would dig as
shallow a root as possible in order to disturb the ground the least,shake off
any excess soil,and stuff the collected fern into a black plastic bag. Back at
the nursery we would cut the fronds,not the fiddleheads,back to a few inches
long to reduce moisture requirement for respiration, and so that we could see
the ferns base well enough to cut it up into a number of pieces,as many as 7 or
We'd the pot these sorry remnants into 1 or 2 gallon pots using the regular bark
mix we use for woody ornamentals and set them on the container field in fullsun
in the spring or the fall. As soon as new fronds were well established we
top-dressed the pot with a heavy dose of slow release fertilizer. 
Plants were saleable in 9 to 15 months outside. I haven't collected ferns for a
few years but I still get calls for those strong ,heavy plants. 
Be patient.

{followed up only in this group}

More information about the Plantbio mailing list