Dividing Painted Japanese Ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)

This was put in last summer and has spread so this is perfect

This was put in last summer and has spread so this is perfect

If you look at the fern you can see how the fronds go in different directions and it looks like a couple plants stuck togethr

If you look at the fern you can see how the fronds go in different directions and it looks like a couple plants stuck togethr

Carefully take your shovel and go halfway under the fronds/leaves and cut a circle about 1/2 way deep on the shovel

Carefully take your shovel and go halfway under the fronds/leaves and cut a circle about 1/2 way deep on the shovel

Separate the fronds just to see that there is a bare area and there are 2 separate plants now

Separate the fronds just to see that there is a bare area and there are 2 separate plants now

See how this clumps to form another plant?

See how this clumps to form another plant?

Carefully slicing through around the plant and no need to go too deep-just half as much as the shovel

Carefully slicing through around the plant and no need to go too deep-just half as much as the shovel

Slicing some more

Slicing some more

I slightly had to push the shovel with my foot carefully loosening another side

I slightly had to push the shovel with my foot carefully loosening another side

After you have made your circle (or half circle if an obstacle is in the way) and gently take your shovel and push it under the fern and then gently push the shovel down so the plant slightly lifts up. Repeat around the plant trying to keep root ball in tact (we have had 3 days of rain so the ground is wet and perfect)

After you have made your circle (or half circle if an obstacle is in the way) and gently take your shovel and push it under the fern and then gently push the shovel down so the plant slightly lifts up. Repeat around the plant trying to keep root ball in tact (we have had 3 days of rain so the ground is wet and perfect)

I was gently lifting up here loosening dirt and some roots-their roots are not that deep yet since it is a 2 year old plant. larger plants may require you to go deeper (hosta are usually deeper)

I was gently lifting up here loosening dirt and some roots-their roots are not that deep yet since it is a 2 year old plant. larger plants may require you to go deeper (hosta are usually deeper)

This was easy because it was wet and a young plant. Carefully push your shovel all the way under and lift out of hole

This was easy because it was wet and a young plant. Carefully push your shovel all the way under and lift out of hole

the hole is ready for the parent plant to go back in after you pull it apart

the hole is ready for the parent plant to go back in after you pull it apart

this is a 2 year old plant and it has doubled in size!

this is a 2 year old plant and it has doubled in size!

I search for the natural separation of the fronds/stems and know that is where I will be putting my fingers to pull it apart

I search for the natural separation of the fronds/stems and know that is where I will be putting my fingers to pull it apart

 closer look at division

closer look at division

I grab both sides pushing my fingers in the middle to pull apart-tugging and pulling and bending the rootball to pull the plants apart

I grab both sides pushing my fingers in the middle to pull apart-tugging and pulling and bending the rootball to pull the plants apart

It is a bit tough to do and you have to use a little strength to get them apart

It is a bit tough to do and you have to use a little strength to get them apart

I am pulling apart the plants and see how the roots are separating?

I am pulling apart the plants and see how the roots are separating?

the plant is apart! and now I will put the small one in another bed

the plant is apart! and now I will put the small one in another bed

I put the fern right back into the hole and used the dirt that fell off to fill back in the hole (you may need some more dirt)

I put the fern right back into the hole and used the dirt that fell off to fill back in the hole (you may need some more dirt)

Behind me in the shade garden, I have a hole from where the voles ate one of my hosta-perfect spot for the fern to fill in!

Behind me in the shade garden, I have a hole from where the voles ate one of my hosta-perfect spot for the fern to fill in!

I only dig the hole the same depth as the plant and a bit wider so I have room to adjust the fern so it looks like I want it to with its ferns in the right position to fill in the holes.

I only dig the hole the same depth as the plant and a bit wider so I have room to adjust the fern so it looks like I want it to with its ferns in the right position to fill in the holes.

the hole is the right size-a bit bigger than the root ball

the hole is the right size-a bit bigger than the root ball

Set the plant in there and adjust it so the fronds are filling the space

Set the plant in there and adjust it so the fronds are filling the space

Hole filled and it looks like it has been there.

Hole filled and it looks like it has been there.

This is the newly transplanted parent plant which looks like it has never been moved

This is the newly transplanted parent plant which looks like it has never been moved

This is a tutorial on how I have been dividing ferns, hostas, my variegated Solomon Seal, Black eyed Susans, and any other clumping plant that have similar growing patterns. I have to WARN YOU this will go against any rule that the master gardener writes or what the gardening books tell you! I also have to tell you that I divide my plants whenever the need arises (anywhere from March-October) and it has either rained more than an inch or if it is going to rain at least 1/2″. Rain-plants know the difference and that is why I currently have 3 rain barrels on the back of my house (HOA rules state i can have 1 and 2 with permission-well, I am all about breaking the rules at my age!) That is why the success of transplanting and even planting your garden should, if at all possible, revolve around Mother Nature and her gift of rain.

Happy gardening!

 Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2014/2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @ the Garden Frog Boutique

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