With a range of bright, fresh, and vivid colors, a Silver Lace Fern can add liveliness to your garden and home.
The primarily silvery-white foliage, brightly colored veins dominate the plant, with the green color humbled at the edges of the fronds.
Known as Pteris ensiformis, more specifically its ‘Evergemiensis’ cultivar, Silver Lace Fern also goes by the names Slender Brake Fern, Sword Brake Fern, or Variegated Brake Fern.
Silver Lace Ferns are a popular choice for growing in vivariums and fairy gardens for their small size and lively, bright foliage.
Silver Lace Fern Care
Silver Lace Ferns prefer well-draining, humus-rich, medium moisture soils. They need at least 6 hours of bright indirect light a day. They don’t like to dry out, so water every time the top layer seems dry. Optimum temperatures and humidity are 65-80°F (18-26°C) and 70-80%.
Silver Lace Ferns need a well-draining, humus-rich, medium moisture soil to grow well. These plants prefer soil pH levels between 5.6 and 7. The soil should not stay soggy as it will kill the plant. Add peat moss or perlite to heavy soils to increase drainage and aeration for growing Silver Lace.
While ferns do not like to live in dry soil, they won’t survive for long if the soil stays excessively wet. What you have to do here is create a careful balance between soil water retention and drainage.
Using the right ingredients to prepare the potting mix or choosing the right commercially available potting mix will do that job for you.
The ideal potting soil mixture for Silver Lace Fern will drain well, maintain adequate soil moisture, and be rich in organic matter to supply the fern with nutrients in the long run.
Silver Lace Ferns feature pulpy roots that will only grow well if provided with loose soil. Compacted soil can be challenging to penetrate, even for the roots of tougher plant species.
You can opt for commercially available acidic soil mixes for potting ferns.
If not that, add peat moss, perlite, and organic compost in equal amounts to create a perfect Silver Lace Fern potting mix.
Silver Lace Ferns like bright indirect light or filtered sunlight for optimum growth. Give them at least 6 hours of bright indirect light a day by placing them near a North or West-facing window. The bright variegation will recede if placed somewhere too dark. Direct sun will scorch the leaves.
Their bright, highly variegated foliage would tell any experienced plant parent that Silver Lace Ferns need much more light than most other ferns.
The creamy-white veins and overriding variegation in each frond mean there is less chlorophyll per unit of foliage area in these ferns. Hence, they need more light.
Exposure to bright indirect light or 75% filtered sunlight is best for Slender Brake Ferns. Also, mild early morning direct sunlight will serve the plants well.
However, protect them from harsh midday or afternoon sun rays as they easily scorch the beautiful foliage.
If you place these plants somewhere too dark for their liking, you will notice slimmer, elongated fronds with much lesser variegation.
If you’re growing these ferns indoors in a vivarium or terrarium, they will do excellent under artificial lighting too.
Silver Lace Ferns prefer consistently moist soil. They do not like the soil to dry out, so keep special care to keep the soil damp, but not wet, at all times. Water every time the top layer seems dry. Let tap water sit for a day before watering or use filtered drinking water for Silver Lace Fern.
It is worthy to note that Silver Lace ferns are native to tropical forest floors. These locations get plenty of rainfall all year, and the humus-rich forest floor holds ample moisture at all times.
You need to mimic the same conditions for your Silver Lace to thrive. Apart from using a water-retaining soil mix, you are advised to water each time the top inch of soil is dry.
Keep special care not to overwater. The best way to ensure this is to make sure water keeps flowing out of the drainage hole and to water in moderation.
This fern will not tolerate heavy water (water treated with fluorides, chlorine, and mineral salts). Better use filtered water instead.
Silver Lace Fern is a tropical plant and will not tolerate cold temperatures. Ideal growing temperatures are between 65-80°F (18-26°C). The lowest tolerable temperatures are 55°F (12°C). These plants are hardy to USDA zones 9A to 11. Increase watering when temperatures are high.
Silver Lace Ferns are native to humid, warm, tropical forest environments. They are naturally found across Southeast Asia, Polynesia and China.
While they grow best in humid and warm conditions, they need the protection of the tree canopies from the direct sun in hot weather.
In the heat of summer, keep your Silver Lace Fern in a well-shaded place and notch up the watering so that the soil never dries out entirely.
In the same way, protect these plants from extreme cold and place them out of drafty locations if growing indoors.
Silver Lace Fern can successfully be grown outdoors year-round in zones 9A to 11. However, if there’s a danger of frost, overwinter them indoors.
Your Silver Lace will require high humidity to thrive. Being tropical plants, it loves 70-80% atmospheric humidity and will grow most vigorously in such conditions. The fronds may curl up and turn brown at the edges if the humidity is too low, use a humidifier or pebble tray in this case.
Humidity is one of the most critical aspects of Silver Lace fern care. In fact, humidity is a more important factor than temperature.
Your Slender Brake Fern may tolerate low temperatures and still grow slower still. But if the right humidity is not present, fern leaves will curl up and turn brown and crispy.
If you’re growing this plant in a terrarium or vivarium, the enclosed space with a lot of plants will not need much help in the humidity department.
However, if you’re growing these plants in pots, you will have to use a humidifier or place the pot over a pebble tray to keep the foliage supplied with adequate atmospheric moisture.
If your bathroom gets adequate indirect light, there’s no better place to grow ferns in your home than that.
The natural humidity created by the running water, bright indirect light, and the relatively lower room temperature in bathrooms are excellent for Silver Lace Fern growth and variegation.
Fertilization is not necessary for Silver Lace Ferns, but you can speed up the typically slow growth with moderate applications of all-purpose fertilizer. They can be fertilized during the growing season from March to September after every 40 days. Overfertilization will result in loss of foliage.
If you want to speed up the slow growth of your Lace Fern, it is an excellent option to feed it during the warmer months.
Fertilization is even more needed if the original potting mix of the plant did not contain adequate organic ingredients.
Always water the plant well before you add fertilizer so that it can readily dissolve into the soil. Adding fertilizer to dry soil may lead to root tip burn.
Overfertilizing your Silver Lace may lead to your fern losing leaves or the fronds turning brown and crispy at the edges.
Silver Lace Ferns are native to Southeast Asia, China and Polynesia. They have an upright growth habit. In nature, the fern can grow up to 35 inches high but will remain small when grown indoors. Delicate fronds can grow up to 40cm long, while leaves will grow as long as 6 inches.
The Silver Lace Fern is best known for its eye-catching foliage. The leaves are flat, ovate shaped, arranged in clusters. The middle of the fronds and the leaves are featured by a bright creamy white bordered by green.
The green color outlines the fronds like a lace, which is where the species gets its common name from.
The clusters of leaves can grow 16 inches in length, while individual leaves will grow as long as 6 inches.
Below the surface of the soil, the Silver Lace Fern’s root system is dominated by rhizomes, which are thick bulbous roots that store moisture and nutrients for the plant.
Silver Lace Ferns can be grown in all sorts of pots as long as they have drainage holes present at the bottom. Other than pots, these plants are a favorite in a terrarium or a vivarium. They can also be planted in hanging baskets to help them absorb as much light as possible.
Silver Lace Ferns are popularly grown in bright, decorative pots that complement the bright colors of the fern.
If you’re growing this plant in a terrarium, choose a position that is not too congested by other plants. Slender Brake Ferns like to grow in open spaces to spread their showy foliage.
Your Silver Lace Fern might need to be pruned back to size if it grows too tall. Pruning back the towering stems will encourage more fronds to grow from the base for a bushier look. Also, you must remove any dead or diseased leaves as soon as you see them to reduce the risk of disease and pests.
Because Silver Lace Ferns have an upright growth pattern, they will usually stay within the boundary of the pot, but they can grow quite tall.
Their relatively tall height is not a problem if they are grown as houseplants, but they can start touching the roof of the terrarium if grown as a terrarium plant.
In this case, you can prune down the taller stems to reduce the size to a more manageable one. Dead and damaged foliage must be removed immediately.
How to Propagate Silver Lace Fern
Silver Lace Ferns are propagated through the plant division method. Roots spreading from the rhizomes can produce their own foliage and slowly develop into individual plants. These separate plants can be divided from the mother plant and potted in a new pot to propagate Lace Fern.
Silver Lace propagation is best down in spring or early summer when the growth is faster, and temperatures are not too hot.
Divide the plants by identifying separate clumps of rhizomes, pull them apart slowly, so the roots are safely untangled.
Transplant the separated plants into new pots with fern potting soil. Place these pots in a protected location and keep the soil consistently moist at all times.
The fronds will start growing from divided plants after a few weeks. Keep them well watered and in high humidity so the plants can establish themselves quickly.
Common Problems with Silver Lace Fern
Root Bound Plants – Silver Lace Ferns can get root bound quite easily, so better keep an eye out for any signs such as yellowing foliage or stunted growth.
Rootbound ferns will face a lack of soil nutrients and will have to be repotted to a bigger pot with extra soil.
Mealybugs – Ferns can be a tasty meal for mealybugs. If you spot a mealybug infestation, treat your plant with dish soap solutions spray a few times a week to get rid of them.
Silver Lace Fern, will all its attractive colors and unique foliage shape, is one of the most unique ferns you can grow in your home.
Whether you’re growing it in a pot in a bright corner or in a vivarium, the striking colors will surely add a lot of liveliness and freshness to your space.
Frequently Asked Questions about Silver Lace Fern Care
How to increase variegation in Silver Lace Ferns?
Variegation is induced by bright light and cool conditions. Place your Silver Lace plant in a cool room that gets plenty of bright indirect light. The combination of the two conditions will boost variegation even more.
Are Silver Lace Ferns toxic to pets?
Silver Lace Ferns can prove toxic to dogs or cats if ingested. Skin irritation may or may not be caused on your pet’s skin if they come into contact with this plant. Keep this plant away from the reach of pets.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.