En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - May 06, 2010

From: Katy (Houston), TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Ferns
Title: Southern Woodferns in TX
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I have recently bought some 3 gallon southern woodferns, and have planted them in the shade in a low spot with clay soil. It seems to be a good location for the ferns, but a week or two after transplanting they have lost more than half of their foliage. What can I do to make sure they get established well?


It does sound like you have chosen the ideal location for your Dryopteris ludoviciana (southern woodfern and it could be that they are just getting used to their new location.

There are a couple of things that could be a problem ... too much water or not enough.  Even though their ideal situation is in moist or wet soil, if you are overwatering them enough that your clay soil is saturated, that could be too much.  Also, if the plants were potbound when you planted them and you did not loosen the roots so the water can get into the rootball and the roots can work their way into the soil, the plant will actually be unable to take up the water you are giving it.

You might also take a frond to the nursery where you purchased or your local agricultural extension office it to see if they can diagnose the problem.


From the Image Gallery

Southern woodfern
Dryopteris ludoviciana

More Ferns Questions

Environmental factors that affect lifecycle stages of maidenhair fern.
November 07, 2014 - What are the environmental factors that can affect the lifecycle stages of a maidenhair fern, particularly A. trichorleopis? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade in Duval County, Florida
September 17, 2014 - What low growing ground cover would be good for a lake edge area. This area is shaded with overlying woodland type trees. I planted some autumn ferns but they have getting overrun with poison ivy. I a...
view the full question and answer

Growing mosses in the Pacific Northwest
February 05, 2015 - Can you provide information on types of Mosses as well as Microferns in the Northwest Mountain region near Seattle? I assume that Mosses and Microferns are more resilient to foot traffic (i.e.Cush...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizer for Maidenhair Fern in Bay Point CA
October 05, 2009 - Is it possible to feed a Maidenhair Fern the same plant food as a African Violet? I use Schultz African Violet Plus.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a garden in Panama City, FL
May 10, 2013 - I live in zone 9 in Florida. We are looking for plants which will be attractive all year long for the front of our house's landscaping which faces north. I need a specimen bush which doesn't get ov...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center