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- Brake Fern-Pteris cretica Hardy Planting Zones- 8-10 Sun or Shade – Partial to Full Shade Mature Height - 12-18" Mature Width- 12-24" -Gardener Status- Medium
Brake Fern - Pteridium Aquilinum
The Brake Fern, Pteris Cretica, also known as the Table Fern, is only one of about 300 species of ferns, in the Pteridoidae subfamily. The Brake Fern is a slow growing fern that originated in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Southern Mediterranean. Depending on which variety of the Brake Fern you have, it will grow to be 6” to 2.5’ tall.
The different species of the brake ferns are distinguished by different variegations, in their frond shape, and frond color. With solid colored fronds to fronds with different colored stripes down the center of them, (from creamy white to silvery white stripes), and from straight fronds to fronds with frilly tips. Healthy ferns will have spores along the edges, which are little seeds that you can use for propagating.
For a happy, healthy Brake Fern, there are specific light, humidity, temperature, and soil requirements that the fern needs. Place your Brake Fern on a table or a stand in a window that gets the most amount of bright, indirect sunlight, as the fern craves indirect, bright sunlight all year round, (hence the name Table Fern). If you do not have a window with a decent amount of sunlight all year round, the fern will thrive well under fluorescent lighting. The Brake Fern needs 50% relative humidity. If your house has less relative humidity that 50%, place the potted fern on a tray of wet pebbles and mist the fronds regularly with room temperature water. Your Brake Fern will feel most at home with warm daytime temperatures of 60*-70*, and cool nights of 50*-55*. The fern thrives best in good potting soil that is mixed with perlite for good drainage.
Brake Ferns rarely need to be repotted or divided, as they love compact conditions. You can keep the fern compact by cutting off tall fronds at the base, so new ones will grow and take its place. When cutting the fronds, use a sharp knife, and cut as close to the bottom of the stalk as possible. If you do have to report the fern, it is best to do it in the spring. When repotting, keep the crown of the fern above the soil line. Make sure the pot has drainage holes, to avoid soggy soil. Just remember to be careful with the Brake Fern, as its fronds are delicate and can break off easily.
The Brake Fern originates from the southern Mediterranean and prefers moderate to bright indirect sunlight. It is an ideal plant for the indoors as it thrives in fluorescent light conditions and requires little watering.
Beautiful green fronds add an exciting pop of color and texture to the home. The Brake Fern grows slowly and, unlike other varieties, rarely needs to be divided. It prefers moist air, and its fronds can be pruned at the base to leave room for new growth. Will survive as a container or landscape plant in warmer climates.