Wednesday, September 05, 2012

WILT - The Bigger They Are...

You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way. 
~Marvin Minsky

The bigger they are...the harder they are to transplant.

With the exception of the North and South Deck Gardens and the Lily garden where trees and rocks have been removed so that digging big holes was easy, digging holes in the forest floor is tough work.  So picking smaller ferns that need smaller holes is a better idea than digging up massive ferns that require massive holes and then not being able to properly plant them.

The ferns deserve more.
If you transplant a medium fern with little damage and properly buried roots it will grow strong soon enough.  If you take the biggest ferns but don't accommodate its full size, it can be like taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back.  
You may end up with the same sized plant 2 or 3 years later, so wouldn't it have been better for everyone, including the plant, to just start with the smaller one?

It can be tempting though to go for the biggest one you think you can manage, to get the most bang for your buck and have instant gratification.  
But if there is one thing us perennial gardeners need to have, it is patience.
And I need to remember that when I am in the trenches digging up suitable candidates for my garden.  
Think smaller and save us all from wasted effort.


What I Learned Today (WILT) is a recurring series of posts about those thing I tend to learn over and over, and seem destined to keep repeating.  They tend to be the basics.  The simple things that are not so simple.
Making a record of the error of my ways is designed to help me to kick the habit.
Time will tell.

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  1. good to know, I always have such a hard time transplanting anything. I can't wait to move and get started with gardening...first up bulbs to enjoy next spring :-)

    1. Just remember, after transplanting, water, water, water...oh, and I also use a root stimulating fertilizer whenever I remember!

      Thanks for checking in.

  2. Cute photo..Love it.. I didn't know this. I really want to have some ferns as we are in a woodland area but I am afraid I will kill them. There are some that grow naturally here that I really like. Maybe I will have to give it a go. Thank you for linking up to Nature Notes this week..Michelle..from

    1. The best time of year to do it is in the spring. For the Ostrich ferns I like it is particularly important because the bigger their fronds get the more likely they are to break off in the process. Even with smaller ferns it is best to give them as much time as possible to put down roots and adjust to their new surroundings. A hard rule to follow sometimes...

  3. Hm, never occurred to me that it might be easier to transplant a smaller fern.

    I notice you quote Marvin Minsky - years ago, I knew his nephew. Memories!

    1. It's a small world - for each post in this "what I learned today" series I'll be adding a quote about learning. It seems fitting for this blog since I really am continually learning.