Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Slender brake fern aka silver leaf fern ( Pteris ensiformus ) and ( Pteris vittata )




pteris ensiformus

Pteris ensiformus can reach 3′ in height and 3′ across when filled out.

Like most ferns it prefers light shade, high humidity and moist soil. But it will rot in the winter if the soil is too moist, so let it go a bit drier in the winter.

Slender brake will grow in light shade to full shade.

It does not like alkaline soil, so may not do well in Houston. I’m hoping anyhow.

It winters over just fine down here, this has been through two winters now.

I find it to be a very slow grower.

It is too warm in Houston for this plant in the summer, it died of heat stroke.

It is the most common ingredient in traditional herbal drinks in Taiwan, being high in phenolic antioxidants. ( I have not tried eating it, nor should you with out further research. ) It is also a plant that causes skin rashes on many people so be careful handling it.

Interestingly when planted in areas high in arsenic this plant uptakes far more arsenic than other plants yet shows no toxicity to the arsenic which makes it a great clean up plant, and gives you another reason not to munch on it with out further research. It is currently considered one of the best clean up plants for areas high in arsenic.

Propagate by dividing clumps.

Things to watch for on ferns:

Leaf scotch: appears during dry, windy weather.  Water frequently and deeply and provide what shade and shelter you can.

Scale: looks like small brown bumps on stems and underside of leaves.  I use orange oil.

Mealy bugs:  Looks like white fuzz on plants.  I just wash them off with a garden hose.