For years now I have been digging up ferns from my woods and planting them around my house to fill in those spots where grass will not grow. For the life of me I can not get them to spread let alone stay alive.I loose about one third every time I do this. I've taking a good size root ball with it's naterial soil. the area I'm planting in is located on the north and east. These two areas get filtered sun and watered only when it rains. The ph is running about 7.3 and the soil seams to be the same as the spot I take them from. These ferns seem to be the woodland kind and nothing special. I have left these areas with leaf cover to keep soil moist. I'm missing something.
We can't be sure what's causing the transplant failure. Generally speaking, native ferns are easy to move. In any case, the best time to transplant is in early spring before new growth begin. If you have a choice, move young clumps/roots instead of old ones. Loosen and improve the soil in the planting area by digging and adding organic matter. Also, you may need to water regularly until the plants are well established.