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Pothos and Philodendron are two popular houseplants often mistaken, even though they’re so different. Many similarities lead to confusion, but we’re here to help you solve the mystery.
Take some time to learn about the details and characteristics of Pothos and Philodendron plants, and you’ll be an expert in recognizing them.
In the following headings, each plant is described individually. We’ll also come to specific examples that prove how different Pothos and Philodendron are, making it easy to tell them apart.
Pothos plant, also famous as Devil’s ivy, is a trailing vine that leads from the Solomon Islands, located in the South Pacific.
When it comes to its appearance, its pointed heart-shaped leaves are the first thing you’ll see when spotting it. In addition, numerous leaves are decorated with small stripes which look like freckles on human faces. They make this plant even more special and beautiful.
The small stripes that highlight this plant can be white or yellow and sometimes pale green. Many people consider it perfect for office space because sunlight isn’t necessary for its growth and health.
It loves the sun, but it also can thrive in spots that don’t provide enough daylight.
- Family: Araceae
- Common Pothos names: Pothos, Golden pothos, Devil’s vine, Devil’s ivy
- Length: 20 to 40 ft.
- Width: 3 to 6 ft.
- Soil type: Well-drained but moisturized
- Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people
Philodendron has no common name. There’s only one name that we know and use, and it’s Philodendron. This genus counts numerous species of foliage plants, and it’s mostly grown in homes.
With that said, it’s safe to say that heartleaf philodendron is commonly kept as a houseplant.
The different types:
- the vining plants
- the plants that don’t climb
The vining plant grows pretty fast, so you have to provide structural support if you want a healthy developed plant. On the other hand, the second type grows upright and is perfect for pots and containers.
- Family: Araceae
- Philodendron genus: Philodendreae
- Common names: Philodendron
- Height: 1 to 20 ft.
- Width: 1 to 6 ft.
- Soil type: Well-drained, loamy
- Toxicity: Toxic to pets and people
Pothos vs. Philodendron
Differences based on previously listed characteristics
Most of the characteristics are typical for both plants, but as you probably noticed, one of the main differences is the size/shape of Pothos and Philodendron.
Unlike Philodendron, Pothos can grow longer, and it has denser foliage. On the other hand, there’s a type of Philodendron that grows upright, so that’s one more feature that can help you tell the difference between Pothos and Philodendron.
Taxonomy: Pothos vs. Philodendron
Pothos and Philodendron belong to the aroid plant Araceae family but come from a different genus. Philodendrons come from the Philodendron genus and Pothos from the Epipremnum genus.
The botanical name for the heartleaf Philodendron is Philodendron hederaceum.
Pothos vs Philodendron: Care
Because most Pothos owners keep it indoors, it’s important to remember that it likes indirect light. Even though this plant loves the sun, you should be careful when it comes to picking a spot for it.
Watch its leaves as they’ll show if you’re doing something wrong. If the plant doesn’t get enough light, the foliage will become darker, and freckles disappear. You’ll also notice there’s no new growth.
When it comes to light, the two plants are pretty much the same. But Philodendron also needs indirect light. Too much sun can harm it and cause wilting.
When it comes to soil, Philodendron requires more attention and care. Both plants need well-drained soil, but this one is sensitive to salts that cause leaf sickness, so you need to change the soil at times.
Pothos requires occasional watering, but only when the soil is dry. Never water it if the soil is moist because this leads to rotting.
The leaves will tell you if the plant is thirsty or oversaturated, so make sure to observe them. You might notice dark spots on foliage when the plant is overwhelmed.
Philodendron needs to be watered more often than Pothos, but the roots can rot when the soil is too moist. It’s also relatively easy to tell the difference between the two types of Philodendron. One that climbs up is stronger than the vining plant, and its level of drought tolerance is higher.
- Pothos – water it only when the soil is completely dry, but don’t wait too long.
- Philodendron – water it when the top inch of soil is dry.
- Pothos: above 50 °F(10°C), the perfect temperature indoors 65 to 75 °F (18,5 – 24 °C)
- Philodendron: above 55°F (13°C), low-temperature intolerance
- Pothos: potted plants fertilize once or twice a month
- Philodendron: fertilize once per month during spring and summer, reduce fertilization during autumn and winter to once every 6 to 7 weeks
Pothos and Philodendrons plants use the cutting method to propagate.
Process of Pothos propagation:
- put on gloves and use a sharp tool such as a knife
- cut the stem of the plant
- put the cut stem in water
- wait until the new baby roots appear
- fill the pot with appropriate soil for healthy new growth
- transfer the stem from water to pot
Process of Philodendron propagation:
- cut the stem ( about 5ft.)
- put it in water
- wait for the small roots to develop
- prepare a pot with a moist soil
- transfer the stem from water to pot
Varieties: Pothos vs Philodendron
Varieties of Pothos
Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus)
- botanical cousin is Epipremnum aureum
- no tolerance for cold weather
- easy to grow
- silver and grey leaves
- length: 4 to 10 ft.
- native: French Polynesia
- it rambles up trees when outdoors
- often covers the ground
- most popular and easiest to grow
Marble Queen Pothos
- moss- greenish leaf
- drought tolerant
- extremely variegated foliage
- slower growth
Pearls and Jade Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- variegation on the edge of the leaf
- similar to Marble Queen but slower growing
- looks like a very variegated Golden Pothos
- light green leaf
- new foliage brighter than the mature ones
- low-light and dark locations cause its color to change
Manjula Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- similar to Marble Queen
- wide and rounded leaf shape
- leaf color palette: silver, yellow, cream, white green
Varieties of Philodendron
Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
- dark-green heart shaped leaf
- can be a hanging or climbing plant
- prefers low light, spots, and shade
- excellent for the bathroom because it loves humidity
Prince of Orange Brasil
- fast-growing vining type
- lemon/lime-colored leaf
- tolerates low to medium light
- needs pruning sometimes
- extremely easy to grow
- low maintenance
- watering at times when the soil is partially dry
Philodendron Micans (Philodendron Hederaceum Micans)
- a trailing vine
- color of the foliage: dark/light green
- prefers bright indirect lighting
Philodendron Xanadu (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
- an upright indoor plant
- large heart shape leaf
- grows up to 3 ft. (1m)
- spreads up to 6ft. (2m)
- slow growth
Philodendron Pink Princess (Philodendron Erubescens)
- indoor plant
- greenish leaf with pink variegation
- regular pruning makes it bushier
- fast growth
Lacy Tree Philodendron (Philodendron selloum)
- similar to the Xanadu plant
- green leaves are large and shiny
- grows up to 3 ft. (1m)
- spreads up to 6 ft. (6m)
Naugahyde Philodendron (Rugosum Philodendron)
- thick and dark green leaf
- the pigskin plant
Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’
- large oval leaf shape
- leaf colors: red and dark green
- indoor plant
- white stripes on leaves
- grows up to 90cm
- the stem is thick and looks like wood
- prefers shaded or partially shaded areas
- soil: moisty, but not overwatered
- dark and shiny leaves
- well-drained soil
- ideal temperature range between 18-23 °C
Difference: Pothos vs Philodendron
The shape and texture of the leaves
The second name for Philodendron leaf is heartleaf. Its smoothness and matte color make it look elegant. Philodendron leaves don’t contain any stripes or dots in different colors but are evenly green. New leaves are slightly brighter than mature ones.
Pothos leaf is pretty uniform in shape and has a slightly raised texture. Its shininess creates a glow as the leaf reflects the sun.
Also, Pothos leaves have a shorter and less spiky top. You have to provide an adequate dose of nutrition for it to develop new leaves. That should speed up the growth of new foliage.
Petioles are small stems connected to the main stem. The difference between Pothos and Philodendrons is clear in this case.
Pothos petioles are thicker and have a slightly lighter color than the rest of the Pothos foliage. On the other hand, Philodendron petioles have a brownish color and a more rounded shape.
Pothos aerial roots appear only one per node. They can be described as dark and thick nubs. Sometimes, these roots can harm the environment, and they leave marks on walls, clothes, and furniture.
Philodendron aerial roots are thin, stringy, and have a shape of clusters, so it’s easy to tell the difference.
The stems of these two plants have two key differences. The first and the most obvious one is color. Pothos stem is pretty much the same color as leaves, but on the other hand, the color of Philodendrons stem is a mix of orange and brown.
Another difference is in the thickness of the stem. Pothos stem is slightly thicker than Philodendrons stem.
In addition to stem differences, there is some difference between Pothos and Philodendrons sheath. Philodendron plants have brown and papery sheaths, unlike Pothos that have no sheath at all.
Benefits: Pothos vs. Philodendron
These plants are very useful and can contribute a lot to the household. In addition, they can provide a healthier environment by acting as air purifiers freeing the rooms from harmful toxins.
Disadvantages: Pothos vs. Philodendron
Philodendrons and Pothos have one common flaw. They are toxic to pets, and that’s the main reason why people change their minds when considering either one of these plants.
Pothos plants aren’t fond of a dry climate, so they might not thrive in your house if you live in a dry area.
How to recognize Pothos vs. Philodendron at first glance?
The most obvious difference is in the leaves, their texture, and their shape. Pothos leaves are thicker, and its petiole is grooved deeply. They’re pretty shiny with beautiful small stripes in lighter shades. Philodendron leaves look pure and smooth, which is the opposite of glossy and variegated Pothos leaves.
Also, there are some differences about aerial roots that separate Pothos and Philodendron. Philodendron roots are thinner and grow in a group. Pothos aerial roots are thicker, and only one root comes from one node.
Choosing between Pothos and Philodendrons, which one is easier to maintain?
Both plants are pretty easy to maintain and don’t require a lot of time. However, Philodendron is a little more suitable for people who don’t have much time to care for a plant. Also, because heartleaf philodendron can thrive in a darker room, it can be a perfect present for many people.
What is Pothos, specifically Golden Pothos, good for?
Even Golden Pothos variety purifies the air by removing toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Are these Philodendron and Pothos plants toxic?
They can be toxic for people and animals. Keep them away from pets who love biting on plant leaves because it can be harmful to them. Also, some parts of these plants can damage walls and furniture. Aerial roots can leave darks marks when removed.
Can Pothos and Philodendron plants handle bright light?
These two prefer indirect but bright light over low light conditions. So when positioning the plants, whether it’s Pothos or Philodendron, make sure to find a sunny spot with just the right amount of sun.
Is there a risk of overwhelming the plants with water?
Yes. In both cases, too much water can cause root rotting. Therefore, it’s necessary to monitor the soil. Water the plant only when the soil is dry.
Can Satin Pothos have problems with pests and diseases?
This type can rot, as most of the Pothos plants. The rotting usually happens due to overwatering. Pests are not a common problem, but some diseases can appear.
It can sometimes have scales or spider mites, but you can quickly fix this by washing the plant.
Is it necessary to fertilize Satin Pothos?
Yes. This type needs to be fertilized once per month during spring and summer.
What is the difference between Pothos and Philodendrons?
Philodendrons are tropical plants that grow rapidly and have heart-shaped leaves. They tolerate low light and do well in variable weather. Heartleaf Philodendron is also one of the most popular types.
Pothos is quite different, although it’s also a tropical plant. It has entirely different leaves with yellow, gold, or white markings.
The difference between Pothos and heart leaf Philodendron is mostly in the leaves.
Which is better, pothos or philodendron?
It’s hard to tell which is better even once you consider all the differences between Pothos and Philodendron. Both plants have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s just a matter of figuring out which one suits you better.
Can you mix pothos and philodendron together?
You can mix the two plants without any problems. Both are somewhat easy to maintain, requiring more or less the same things to thrive.
Combine the two and watch them turn any corner of your space into a beautiful, natural oasis.
How do you identify a philodendron?
The main difference between a Pothos plant and Philodendron is in the leaves. Philodendron leaf is large and glossy green, whereas a Pothos leaf has white, gold, or yellow markings.
This is quite possibly the most obvious difference between a Pothos plant and Philodendron, making it easy to identify and tell them apart.
These are beautiful plants that can provide a stunning jungle effect when indoors. They’re very decorative and relaxing, thanks to their overall appearance.
In addition, it’s easy to maintain them since neither one needs much attention.
In most cases, it’s enough to fertilize them sometimes, and they’ll thrive. There are many varieties with different foliage colors, so we’re sure that there’s one suitable for everyone.
Pothos plants can be very useful as an air cleaner if you live near a factory that causes air pollution.
It’s also a perfect choice for households where cigarette smoke is a common thing. Also, some Pothos plants have a strong and thick stem which you can use to hang stuff on.
When it comes to key differences, the green leaves are the most obvious at first glance. Pothos plant has characteristic freckles or stripes that vary in color. Opposite of glossy and reflective Pothos leaves, Philodendron leaves are matte.
The stem and aerial roots are another few things that separate the two plants. Although these two beautiful plants look similar, each one has its personality and is unique in its way.
Choosing between the two might be challenging because both houseplants are attractive and can look good in any corner of your house.