Comparison Between Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

Macho fern vs Boston Fern? Which is your choice? Let us have a look at these two ferns and compare them. I personally much prefer the Macho fern! I will explain why and you can see if this works for you too.

Why Are These Spreading Fern Types Fun?

If we look at the different fern growth patterns, you get ferns that just stay where you planted them, and ferns that take over! A tree fern for example will tend to just grow big. It may produce spores and these may reproduce and come up in other places, but generally, a tree fern just stays put. Macho ferns and Boston ferns are both pretty invasive – they take over and cover large areas quite quickly due to their growth pattern.

What Species Are These Ferns?

The Boston fern is Nephrolepis exaltata and the Macho Fern is Nephrolepis biserrata. What this means is that they are of the same genus, and are relatively closely related. However, the Boston Fern is adapted to a colder Northern Climate, while the Macho Fern is adapted to a more humid tropical Southern Climate.

Both ferns grow very well within the optimum human indoor temperature range of 50°F to 80°F. Both require a bit of moisture in the air and can grow in either dappled direct sunlight, or partial shade. I find the Macho fern a bit more tolerant of harsh direct sunlight than the Boston fern. Both can however adapt to harsh sunlight with time. 

What Is The Difference Between Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

As we have mentioned, these two ferns are both in the same genus. So they are relatively closely related and share a few things in common. The difference between Macho fern vs. Boston Fern is however great:

  • The growth rate

Both ferns grow really fast. This will probably depend on your area to find out which grows faster between the Macho fern vs. Boston fern. In my area, the Boston fern seems to take over faster.

  • The growth habit

The Boston fern spreads along the ground via rhizomes and stolons or runners. The Macho fern spreads via rhizomes. The Boston fern has upright leaves, whereas the Macho fern when it gets large has leaves that are upright in the middle and droop on the edges.

  • The leaf shape

The Boston fern is a sword fern with relatively dense leaves, whereas the Macho fern has more whispy leaves.  It looks softer and more tropical.

  • Invasiveness

Both ferns can really spread – but the Boston fern wins here. Its creeping stolons or runners can get all over, and it has these little root nodules that make it nearly impossible to get rid of once it establishes in an area.

  • The leaf size

Boston fern leaves are smaller than macho fern leaves. The Macho fern leaves can reach at least 4  feet in length versus just over a foot for Boston ferns.

  • The color of the leaf

The Boston fern has a darker green color. The Macho fern is usually yellowish-green in color. 

  • Shape

The Macho fern has a more rounded shape than the Boston fern. Macho ferns are taller than Boston ferns. I find the Macho fern is a softer more fluffy-looking tropical fern while the Boston fern looks quite hard and unforgiving.

  • Size

The Macho fern grows taller than the Boston fern. The  Macho fern leaves tend to slump over as the plant gets bigger while the Boston fern leaves remain upright. The Macho fern is a really big fern actually. Once mature, you need to put it in a big pot!! It can cover other plants around it.

  • Leaves macho fern vs Boston fern

The Macho fern has wider leaves than the Boston fern. In general, the Macho fern is more vigorous and has larger fronds than the Boston fern.  

  • Root nodules or bulbils

The Boston fern produces little root nodules that store water. The Macho Fern does not. These nodules make the fern very drought resistant. They also make it nearly impossible to eradicate the fern once it has got into an area.

  • Stolons or runners

The Boston fern produces these – basically a stalk with a small fern with roots on the end. These can dangle over the side of the pot and will always find something to grow in/on. The Macho fern does not produce these.

  • Mess

I actually stopped growing both types of fern in my area as they are invasive here. I only grow indigenous ferns now. However, when I had the two inside I found that the Boston ferns dropped leaf particles and made a bit of mess, while the Macho fern tends to have leaves that die, and then you just cut them off. It makes less mess.

The Boston Fern also tends to dangle stolons over the edge and these look messy as they hang over the edge of the pot. When it produces spores, you will find these forming a dusty layer below the fern.

Macho Fern growth habit

Similarities Of Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

Do the Macho fern and Boston fern have any similarities that make them stand out as plants of the same family?  Here are some similarities you can spot between these two plants:

  • ~The Macho fern has a similar shape to the Boston fern, but the leaves on the Macho fern are longer, more frilly, and wider than those of the Boston fern where the leaves are sword-like.
  • ~Both ferns produce copious spores when mature, but I find that the Boston fern seems to have a more invasive nature with these spores. I have been trying to get this fern out of my greenhouse for years but it keeps reappearing from residual spores.
  • ~Both spread via aggressive rhizomes.

Macho Fern – 3 Gallon Pot – Overall Height 28″ to 34″ – Tropical Plants of Florida

I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the Macho fern vs Boston fern. Both are beautiful ferns, and if you plant them separately, they look quite nice near each other. I have seen a wall of these ferns in an airport once.

I suspect with time the wall will get overrun by the Boston fern because that fern just knows how to take over!! But both are beautiful and have complementary leaf types.

FAQs

Is a macho fern the same as a Boston fern?

No.  They are in the same genus but are different species.

How do you identify a Boston fern?

Pull it up. If it has root nodules it is either a Boston fern or a closely related species. Then look at the leaves. if they are sword shaped it is most likely a Boston fern.

What type of fern is a macho fern?

It is a large sword fern with the species name Nephrolepis biserrata. These are beautiful, tough ferns.

What fern looks like a Boston fern?

The Boston fern looks similar to the highly invasive sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. Both can really become a pest, but the second is more invasive.

Conclusion On Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the Macho fern vs Boston fern. Both are beautiful ferns, and if you plant them separately, they look quite nice near each other. I have seen a wall of these ferns in an airport once.

I suspect with time the wall will get overrun by the Boston fern because that fern just knows how to take over!! But both are beautiful and have complementary leaf types.

FAQs

Is a macho fern the same as a Boston fern?

No.  They are in the same genus but are different species.

How do you identify a Boston fern?

Pull it up. If it has root nodules it is either a Boston fern or a closely related species. Then look at the leaves. if they are sword shaped it is most likely a Boston fern.

What type of fern is a macho fern?

It is a large sword fern with the species name Nephrolepis biserrata. These are beautiful, tough ferns.

What fern looks like a Boston fern?

The Boston fern looks similar to the highly invasive sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. Both can really become a pest, but the second is more invasive.

macho fern vs. boston fern

Conclusion On Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the Macho fern vs Boston fern. Both are beautiful ferns, and if you plant them separately, they look quite nice near each other. I have seen a wall of these ferns in an airport once.

I suspect with time the wall will get overrun by the Boston fern because that fern just knows how to take over!! But both are beautiful and have complementary leaf types.

FAQs

Is a macho fern the same as a Boston fern?

No.  They are in the same genus but are different species.

How do you identify a Boston fern?

Pull it up. If it has root nodules it is either a Boston fern or a closely related species. Then look at the leaves. if they are sword shaped it is most likely a Boston fern.

What type of fern is a macho fern?

It is a large sword fern with the species name Nephrolepis biserrata. These are beautiful, tough ferns.

What fern looks like a Boston fern?

The Boston fern looks similar to the highly invasive sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. Both can really become a pest, but the second is more invasive.

 

macho fern vs. boston fern

Conclusion On Macho Fern vs Boston Fern

I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the Macho fern vs Boston fern. Both are beautiful ferns, and if you plant them separately, they look quite nice near each other. I have seen a wall of these ferns in an airport once.

I suspect with time the wall will get overrun by the Boston fern because that fern just knows how to take over!! But both are beautiful and have complementary leaf types.

FAQs

Is a macho fern the same as a Boston fern?

No.  They are in the same genus but are different species.

How do you identify a Boston fern?

Pull it up. If it has root nodules it is either a Boston fern or a closely related species. Then look at the leaves. if they are sword shaped it is most likely a Boston fern.

What type of fern is a macho fern?

It is a large sword fern with the species name Nephrolepis biserrata. These are beautiful, tough ferns.

What fern looks like a Boston fern?

The Boston fern looks similar to the highly invasive sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. Both can really become a pest, but the second is more invasive.