Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Croft
Updated: October 21, 2022
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While they may look strikingly similar to one another, there are some key differences between a Kimberly Queen fern vs Boston fern. But what might some of these differences be, and how can you learn how to tell these two distinct fern species apart from one another? Both of these plants are attractive in either an indoor or outdoor setting, but which one is right for you? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast the Kimberly Queen fern with the Boston fern so that you can fully understand the differences between them. We will go over what they are typically used for and how large they usually grow, both in an indoor and outdoor setting. Let’s get started and talk all about ferns now! 

Comparing Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern
Boston ferns and Kimberly Queen ferns are their own distinct fern species.
Kimberly Queen FernBoston Fern
Plant ClassificationNephrolepis obliterataNephrolepis exaltata
DescriptionReaches up to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, with deep green leaves that are stiff and vibrant. Fronds grow upright and vertically, drooping only at the ends. Individual leaves are narrow and elongatedReaches up to 3 feet tall and wide, with light green leaves that droop toward the ground. Fronds grow in an arch shape and spread out, looking more saggy than other fern varieties. Individual leaves are widened and rounder compared to Kimberly Queen leaves
UsesIdeal houseplant, though might be fussy if the humidity levels aren’t right. Grows well in containers, either indoors or out.Popular fern for outdoor landscaping and indoor houseplant uses. Does well in hanging baskets so that the fronds can droop down.
Origin and Growing PreferencesOriginated in Australia; prefers high levels of humidity and fairly warm temperatures. Does best in hardiness zones 9-11Originated in North and South America; prefers humidity and shady conditions when grown outside, and thrives in hardiness zones 9-11. One of the most sturdy fern varieties for both frost and drought.
Other NamesSword fern, Kimberley Queen fernSword fern, fishbone fern

Key Differences Between Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

Some Boston ferns are a lighter shade of green compared to the deep green Kimberly Queen fern.

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There are a few key differences between the Kimberly Queen fern and the Boston fern. For example, Kimberly Queen ferns come in a deeper shade of green compared to the Boston fern. The Boston fern has a distinctly drooping or arched appearance to its leaves, while Kimberly Queen ferns grow much more upright by comparison. Finally, the Boston fern holds up better to drought and frost compared to the Kimberly Queen fern.

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now. 

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: Classification

There’s no secrets when it comes to determining whether or not the Kimberly Queen fern is related to the Boston fern. They both belonged to the same fern family, known as Nephrolepidaceae. However, Boston ferns and Kimberly Queen ferns are their own distinct fern species, classified differently from each other. For example, the Kimberly Queen fern is classified as Nephrolepis obliterata, while the Boston fern is classified as Nephrolepis exaltata

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: Description

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

The average Boston fern grows its fronds in an arching or drooping manner, while Kimberly Queen fern fronds are upright and grow vertically by comparison.

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It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a Boston fern and a Kimberly Queen fern upon first glance, given just how similar they look to each other. However, there are a few things you can use to tell these two fern varieties apart. For example, Kimberly Queen ferns can grow slightly larger than Boston ferns, but the average Boston fern looks more spread out and larger by proxy compared to the Kimberly Queen fern. 

Speaking of spread out, the average Boston fern grows its fronds in an arching or drooping manner, while Kimberly Queen fern fronds are upright and grow vertically by comparison. In addition, the individual leaves found on the Kimberly Queen fern are more narrow compared to the rounded leaves found on the average Boston fern. Some Boston ferns are a lighter shade of green compared to the deep green Kimberly Queen fern. 

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: Uses

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

The Kimberly Queen fern originated in Australia, while the Boston fern originated in North and South America.

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Belonging to the same family and genus, Kimberly Queen ferns and Boston ferns are often used in the same way. They both thrive in either indoor or outdoor conditions, but both of these fern varieties need a high level of humidity to survive. The Boston fern works well in hanging planters, given its drooping nature, while Kimberly Queen ferns work best in a variety of other containers that give them room to grow vertically. 

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: Origin and How to Grow

The Boston fern and the Kimberly Queen fern grow in similar environments, but they have very different origins from one another. For example, the Kimberly Queen fern originated in Australia, while the Boston fern originated in North and South America. You can grow either of these fern varieties in similar growing conditions, but it all depends on whether you want to grow them indoors or out. 

For example, Boston ferns and Kimberly Queen ferns need a high level of humidity and an average temperature of 65 degrees. They are hardy in zones 9 through 11, but you can grow them indoors year-round. Just make sure they have plenty of filtered sunlight and nutritious soil, as well as plenty of humidity and moist conditions! 

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern: Other Names

Kimberly Queen Fern vs Boston Fern

The Boston fern is also known as the fishbone fern in reference to its leaves, while the Kimberly Queen fern is sometimes misspelled as Kimberley Queen fern.

©iStock.com/skymoon13

An interesting thing to note about both the Kimberly Queen fern and the Boston fern is the fact that they are known by other names. Both of these fern varieties are commonly known as sword ferns, which may lead to some confusion if you are trying to tell them apart. The Boston fern is also known as the fishbone fern in reference to its leaves, while the Kimberly Queen fern is sometimes misspelled as Kimberley Queen fern.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/skymoon13


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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