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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.

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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.

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Thursday - May 06, 2010

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

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