Small evergreen ferns of sub- tropical origin. They are mostly used as houseplants, but the ones listed here will also grow outdoors. Indoors, they should be sited in bright light but shielded from hot sun; an east-facing window is ideal. They benefit from frequent misting. Provide good drainage; keep the soil evenly moist. Fertilize every 2 weeks during spring and summer and once monthly in fall and winter with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer.
P. cretica. CRETAN BRAKE. To ft. high, 2 ft. wide, with comparatively few long, narrow leaflets. Numerous selections exist; some have forked or crested fronds, others are variegated. P. c. albolineata ('Albolineata' ) has a broad white band down the center of each leaflet. 'Mayi' is similar but with crested tips. Light green 'Wimsettii' has fronds that are forked at the tip on mature plants; it is so dense and frilly that it does not even look like a fern.
P. quadriaurita. Reaches 24 ft. tall and wide. Rather coarsely divided fronds. Not as easy to grow as other species, but worth the effort for unusual coloring of varieties P. q. argyraea (P. argyraea), with green fronds heavily marked white, and 'Tricolor', with fronds marked white, green, and red. Protect from frost watch for slugs and snails.
P. tremula. AUSTRALIAN BRAKE. To 5 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide. Extremely graceful fronds on slender, upright stalks. Good landscape fern with excellent silhouette. Fast growing but tends to be rather short lived.