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Home » Cretan Brake Fern

Cretan Brake Fern

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

The Cretan brake fern is one of the most popular grown indoors from the Pteris genus. These are fairly easy to grow indoors compared to other ferns.


Green Cretan Brake Fern on a pot

The variety of Pteris cretica ferns that are cultivated display different shaped and colored fronds, but share very similar characteristics and care requirements. The P.cretica albolineata also called the variegated table fern is one of the most common that has broad green leaflets and a pale center. The P.cretica has slimmer green leaflets with serrated edges.

The growth habit (clump-forming) of this species is to produce wiry thread-like stalks from small rhizomes in the soil and the stalks produce pinnate leaflets in rows. In a way, they kind of resemble a palm to me in looks, although they do not have a main stem. I can’t really say this plant looks like any other, even other ferns are only similar because they have fronds, so you can completely disagree with the palm resemblance I see.

Care level: For a fern, they’re slightly easier to grow indoors than others, although they do still require high humidity levels. They do follow the same care conditions as other ferns but seem to be a bit more forgiving if a grower gets it wrong. During the warmer months in temperate regions, they can be placed on a balcony, porch, or patio, if it’s shaded enough.

Pruning is good for keeping the plant in good shape and looking healthy and will encourage new growth. Just cut back any dying or untidy fronds when needed by cutting with a sharp knife or secateurs as close to the bottom of the stalk as possible.


Origin:Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Names:Cretan Brake Fern (common). — Pteris Cretica (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx):Height 1 – 2.5ft.
Poisonous for pets:Not known.
a green leaflet with its spores being visible

The picture above is a close-up of a leaflet displaying what is called spores. Don’t think this is any type of insect problem or any type of problem, it’s a sign the plant is in good health. Spores are a kind of seed that can be used to create more plants propagate.

Cretan Brake Fern Care

Temperature:The ideal temperature to provide is between 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) for this plant. The minimum is 55ºF (13ºC).
Light:The Cretan brake fern seems to prefer bright light without direct sunlight.
Watering:Like other ferns try and keep the soil moist at all times. This one does not give a grower such a hard time if the soil does dry out from time to time (some ferns die).
Soil:A peat-based potting mix is suitable for this plant.
Fertilizer:Feed from April – September with a diluted fertilizer once a month to encourage healthy growth. Use half of what the bottle instructions advise.
Re-Potting:I would say re-pot this plant once a year or at least every two years. Once it becomes too big for the pot you could divide the plant to create more ferns.
Humidity:As mentioned above this fern is no different than others in terms of its need for high humidity. Misting alongside placing the plant on a humidity tray, or double potting should do. To double pot have your plant potted and then the container it is to be displayed in will require peat moss to be placed inside – surrounding the inner pot.
Propagation:This is one of the easier ferns to propagate by division. Divide the plant and a section of the rhizome (by cutting with a sharp knife) during spring. You need at least two fronds and a section of the rhizome. This plant also produces spores on the underside of the leaflets which are a type of seed growing on the plant that can be propagated, but it is easier to follow the division method.

Common Problems

  • Insects: Insects such as scale, mealy bugs, and aphids can take a liking to this plant quite easily. Identify any strange-looking foreign matter (scale can be identified by its brown shells, for example) and take remedial action as soon as possible.
  • Dry air and lack of water: These are the two biggest requirements a grower must take care of with a fern. The fronds can die back, turn yellow (could also be warm air) or the tips turn brown when the air is too dry and the soil is dry.
  • Too much sun: Too much direct sunlight will turn the fronds pale or scorch their surface of them.

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