Pteris ferns produce arching, pale green fronds that are made up of multiple lance-shaped leaflets. This variety of fern is a true fern and does not flower. Instead, these plants produce spores to reproduce. Pteris ferns like moist soil and high humidity since they grow wild in cool tropical climates. These ferns grow well as ground covers or container plants. The fronds are commonly cut for use in flower arrangements.
Pteris ferns are not extremely fast growing plants, but are considered moderate growing ferns. This fern variety grows vigorously in good soil and under ideal growing conditions. Perfect growing conditions cause the pteris fern to outgrow its container more than once a year. When transplanting a pteris fern into a larger container, carefully divide the smaller clones from around the base of the parent plant. Plant the small ferns in the same type of soil that they were growing in.
Spores are a common method of reproduction for pteris ferns, but it takes at least one year to produce a good display plant. When the spores under the fronds are dry looking, shake the leaves to release the spores over a plant pot filled with damp sphagnum moss. Place a piece of clear plastic over the top of the container to create a small greenhouse and do not let the soil dry out. Set the planted ferns in an area with low light. Pteris ferns germinate slowly and look like a bed of green moss when two months old. Transplant into individual plant pots six months after germination.
Pteris ferns grow best when the soil is similar to the soil found in their natural habitat. Pure peat moss is one substitute or a mixture of three parts peat moss and one part sand is commonly used. This variety of fern grows well in commercial African violet soil, which offers the plant quick drainage while retaining enough moisture to develop a healthy root system. Do not allow water to stand in a pot or the drainage tray underneath. Too much moisture causes root rot and stunting of leaf growth. Temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are best for pteris ferns. Most homes need the humidity raised around the ferns with either a humidifier or a tray containing rocks and water.
There are many different types of pteris ferns that do well when grown as a house plant. Silver lace ferns produce variegated leaves with silvery stripes down the center of the fronds. Sword brake ferns develop a grayish-white midrib down the center of the fronds. Painted brake fern appear read when they are young. Fan table ferns grow fan-shaped fronds instead of the normal sword-shaped leaves.
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