What’s the Difference Between Macho Fern and Boston Fern?

It’s possible to mistake it’s possible to mistake the Macho Fern for the Boston Fern because of its appearance. If you’ve wondered why people refer to”the Macho Fern “a Boston fern on steroids,” it’s not a surprise.

Do not worry, Your plant expert is there to help you understand the confusion and help you in separating them.

The main distinction between them is the fact that Macho ferns are larger than Boston ferns. Macho fern is bigger than the Boston fern. The Macho Fern’s fronds are larger and feature more vibrant, brighter as well as longer leaves. Boston Fern fronds are less tinier and have smaller leaflets. They’re a shade of blue-green.

Are theren’t enough of a difference? I’ll discuss the main differences and similarities of the two fern species in greater detail below.

What Is the Difference Between Macho Fern and Boston Fern?

The difference in size between the size of a Macho fern and the Boston fern is most obvious.

Macho fern Macho fern is significantly larger and can reach the height of three to four feet (0.9-1.2 meters) and a length that is 6 inches (1.8 meters). The names “giant-sword fern” and “broad sword fern” originate from this.

The Macho Fern’s fronds are larger than those of Boston fern. The fronds of the plant can grow to an average length of six feet (around two meters) and dwarf other ferns , including those of the Kimberley Queen fern and the Boston fern.

The Boston fern is a clump-forming plant and spreads outwards as it gets larger. The fronds, comprised of a number of tiny leaflets, can grow to the maximum length of 3 feet. (around 1 millimeter) however, the plant itself is able to attain a height of 2 feet.

I’d like to highlight that both ferns have many things in the same. In the end I’ve put together an easy table that includes the most significant characteristics descriptions, as well as the ever-growing demands.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Main Ways to Tell Them Apart Correctly

1] Total Height Macho Fern stands taller than Boston Fern

The primary difference between Macho Fern and Boston fern is the height.

Macho fern Macho fern plant in particular can become very large, with the height of four inches (1.2 metres). It is provided with sufficient lighting, plenty of space, and constant humidity, and can grow to a height that is 6 inches (around 2 meters) or more.

The Boston fern however tends to grow slightly shorter. It is rarely taller than 2 feet in the majority of instances, which makes it a great plant for homes and apartments.

[2Foliage Size: Macho Fern has Larger Fronds than Boston Fern

Although both ferns sport sword-shaped fronds, their dimensions differ quite a bit.

Within the family of ferns, the macho fern is the one with the largest and most majestic fronds. They can spread to be up to 4-6 feet in length and dwarf Boston Ferns, Dallas ferns, and Kimberly Queen Ferns.

And not only that, every leaflet on a frond is all identical in size, and one leaf can be larger than the size of a Biro pencil or fork to eat salad.

In terms of its fronds, Boston fern is, however prefers texture over. The leaves are small and have rough texture, however the entire frond is soft and swells downwards as it expands.

[3] Availability and Popularity: Boston Fern is More Readily Available and Popular

Since the Victorian period in the Victorian era, the Boston fern is a well-loved plant in the parlor. It is a favorite for indoor and outdoor cultivation because of its small size and simple-care appearance.

The Macho fern On the other hand is gaining popularity over the past few years. The size of the plant limits its use, particularly indoors.

Boston fern can also be found in a larger variety of cultivars, which includes smaller cultivars like The Cotton Candy Boston fern, that can grow up to one foot wide and long.


[1] Leaf Structure and Color

The fronds of both Boston as well as the Macho ferns have a sword-shaped shape. Since their leaves are soft and bonded to fronds that are flexible and are able to hang down, these are great house plants to hang in baskets.

Both have bright green leaves, however they differ in their leaves. Boston fern’s leaves may be bluish in color.

[2] Soil

The best soil that both types of ferns must be well-drained, moist, and organically abundant. This is why they favor soil which is slightly acidic and loamy.

A poor drainage is crucial because it can drown the roots and lead to root decay. It will eventually kill the Boston plant as well as Macho fern.

[3] Light Requirements

Both ferns like dappled light outside, which is why they require some shade. They shouldn’t expose themselves to intense sunlight as it could cause scorching of the fronds. They should be exposed to plenty of diffused, direct or indirect light indoors.

[4] No Flowers

Like most ferns they both Macho Fern and Boston fern do not flower.

[5] Temperatures

The Boston and Macho ferns thrive in temperatures that are in the 60-70 degF range (15-21degC). They do not tolerate heat stress or frost.

They shouldn’t expose them to temperature that exceed 95degF(35degC) . The leaves can cook when exposed to the heat of high temperatures , and will develop burnt or brown tips.

However temperatures that are lower than 35degF(2degC) can cause injuries or damage from cold.

Why All the Confusion?

Apart from its dimensions and shape, the Macho plant is similar to similar to the Boston fern. Both are evergreen tropical plants belonging to the Genus Nephrolepis. As they grow they grow sword-like fronds and arched branches.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)