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Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern (What’s The Difference?)

You’d be forgiven if you thought Boston fern was the same as Kimberly Queen fern. Both ferns have a unique zigzag pattern on their leaves, which will enhance the look and feel of your room.

But today, I’ll show you how to tell a Boston fern from a Kimberly Queen fern by pointing out the differences.

Both have dissected leaflets of comparable size (approximately 1-3′′ in length). Boston fern has soft, floppy leaflets and gentle, bendy fronds, lending it a shaggy appearance. The leaflets and fronds of Kimberly Queen are stiff, pointed, and stand upright. Additionally, it is more compact, darker, and sun/drought tolerant than Boston fern.

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern
Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

What is the Difference Between Kimberly Queen Fern and Boston Fern?

ParametersKimberly Queen Fern Boston Fern 
Scientific Name Nephrolepis obliterataNephrolepis exaltata 
Common NamesKimberly queen fern, sword fernPalm fluffy ruffles, Bostornfern, dwarf feather palm
Mature Height0.9 m (3 ft.)0.6 m (2 ft.)
Mature Width 0.9 m (3 ft.)1.2 m (4 ft.)
Light RequirementsDirect sunlight and partial shade Full shade and partial shade
Drainage and WateringWell-drained moist soil. Water once in ten days during drought Well-drained moist soil. Water once per week in a drought.
Soil pH6.0 – 6.56.0 – 6.5
USDA Hardiness Zone9-1110b, 10a, 11b, 11a, 12b, 12a, 13b, 13a
Leaf Texture and ColorStiff, sharp, and slightly dark green leavesSoft, saggy, and bright green leaves
Overall ShapeCollected and upright growthWider, saggy look
Growth RateFastFast

(Source: North Carolina State University)

Main Differences to Identify Them Correctly

Leaves Difference

The Boston ferns and the Kimberly queen fern’s leaves and fronds differ significantly. It’s especially noticeable in the foliage’s puffiness, texture, and stiffness.

Kimberly Queen are razor-sharp and arch straight upwards
Boston fern is a little saggy and droopy

[1] Shape 

Both ferns have leaflets attached to the fronds that are dissected bipinnately. In pairs, they’re about the same size (1 to 3 inches long). Their stifling rigidity is what sets them apart.

Unlike other ferns, the leaflets of the Kimberly Queen are razor-sharp and arch straight upwards. That way, the plant appears taller and leaner. The fronds have been described as sword-shaped by some.

The leaflets of the Boston fern, on the other hand, are large and saggy, and they tend to spread outwards as time passes.

As for the fronds, they’re a little saggy and droopy. As a result, the Boston fern appears broader and fluffier. In fact, the more relaxed leaflets on the fronds give the impression that they are tapering downwards.

[2] Texture

When it comes to comparing Boston ferns and Kimberly Queen ferns, the main difference is the way the leaves look.

While the Boston fern’s leaves are similar in appearance, they have a softer flow and feel better to the touch. Foaming and generally feather-like foliage are created as a result of this practice

Because of their suppleness, Boston fern leaves aren’t as durable as other ferns. They are more likely than Kimberly queen fern leaves to fall off the plant.

Kimberly Queen fern foliage, on the other hand, is brittle and rough to the touch. Consequently, the vegetation appears angular and even harsh.

[3] Color

The Boston fern’s leaflets and fronds turn a brighter, more vivacious green when exposed to light. Kimberly Queen fern, on the other hand, has leaves that are a deeper shade of green. Each type of fern has the same shade of green foliage.

Both ferns’ leaves are completely uniform in color. Because of the Kimberly Queen ferns’ rich, dark green leaves, I believe they deserve to be more regal in appearance while also requiring less care.

The greenery of the Boston fern is lovely, but it pales in comparison to that of the Kimberly queen fern.

Height and Structure

The structure of the Kimberly Queen fern is remarkably uniform. This is due to the fact that it grows to a width and height of about 3 feet (0.9 m).

This fern grows upright and somewhat compactly due to its stiff-looking foliage.

The Kimberly queen fern’s shape will be distinct due to its stiffness. That’s in part because of the sturdy stems, which remain steadfast in the face of strong winds and heavy rain.

However, the Boston fern has softer fronds and leaves than the other ferns.

Thus, the tree sways when the weight of its leaves is applied. As a result, it grows more saggy and droopy as time goes on.

This plant will appear to be sagging like a weeping fern when placed in a hanging basket.

That’s good and bad because it makes the Boston fern look bigger and fluffier than it is. Consider something four feet wide and two feet high as an example.

A Boston fern can grow up to two feet in height on its own (0.6 m). When fully grown, the spread may reach a width of about four feet (1.2 m). As a result of its structure, the Boston fern is spongy to handle.

As a whole, the Kimberly queen fern is taller than the Boston fern in the wild, on average. The Kimberly queen fern is narrower than the Boston fern.

Growth Rate

It takes a long time for the Kimberly Queen fern to reach maturity. It takes anywhere from five to ten years for it to reach its full potential size. The first fronds usually appear three months after fertilization.

After that, the growth is fairly even all the way to maturity. The average annual growth rate is between 4 and 9 centimeters. It will reach its mature height of 0.9 meters at that rate.

The Boston fern expands more rapidly than the Kimberly Queen fern, but they are both ferns. It takes about four years for it to reach its mature height when the conditions are ideal. This equates to about 15 centimeters of annual growth.

The rate of growth of the Boston fern depends on various factors, including the amount of available space and the temperature.

Lower temperatures and limited space both slow growth. So, after the first two years of growth, you need to repot your Boston fern and move it into a larger area.


The Kimberly Queen fern and the Boston fern, like all ferns, reproduce through sporophytes. Because they are essentially sexless, they do not send out flowers.


The Kimberly Queen fern has only one variety. 

Meanwhile, the Boston fern is more diverse with several cultivars that include:

  • Florida Ruffle – A cultivar that has feather-like and ruffled foliage. 
  • Compacta -As the name implies, this variety is generally compact. The Boston fern is not known for its uprightness, but the compacta are more upright than the typical Boston.
  • Fluffy Duffy– Its foliage has a fine texture, and the fronds are feather-like. 
  • Golden Boston – It is referred to as golden because it has golden-yellowish fronds. 
  • Rita’s Gold – Its color is greenish yellow (also known as chartreuse); it is also relatively compact.

Growing Requirements

The Kimberly Queen fern does well in partial shade or full sun. It can, however, withstand the heat and drought that come with being exposed to the sun directly.

Indoor Kimberly queen ferns, on the other hand, do best with bright, indirect light.

Boston fern has a lower heat and drought tolerance than other ferns. It will suffer if exposed to excessive amounts of direct sunlight.

The leaves’ tips and edges will turn brown as a result of exposure to the sun.

Boston fern thrives in partial shade. Bright, indirect sunlight is best for this plant’s growth. Avoid exposing it to the hot, western, or southern sun.

Both types of fern prefer moist, well-drained soil to their native dry conditions. They prefer a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5, which is found in slightly acidic soil. Never let the potting soil dry completely.

Both kinds of fern require warm, moist conditions to thrive. The Boston fern prefers temperatures between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 21°C) while the Kimberly queen fern prefers temperatures between 60°F and 70°F (15°C and 21°C).

Use a humidifier or a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity.


The Boston Fern is less expensive than the Kimberly Queen Fern. It’ll cost you between $25 and $40, while Boston ferns are priced between $20 and $40. (Check the latest price on Amazon here).

Why Do People Get Confused?

Nephrolepis is the scientific name for both the Kimberly Queen fern and the Boston fern. Their dissected leaflets almost have the same appearance. The leaflets of both ferns are the same size and develop in pairs.

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