Pothos vs. Philodendron – What’s the Difference?

While it may seem a tough job to many people to spot the differences between a pothos and a philodendron plant. They may look similar in many ways, they grow like a vine, with green and glossy foliage, but still, there are some key differences that set them apart. Knowing the difference between the two types can be useful.

In this article, we will take a closer look at pothos and philodendrons and their famous types then discuss the differences between pothos and philodendrons,

marble jade pothos

Pothos is one of the most common houseplants, grown both indoors and outdoors, with and without soil. The distinguishing feature of this plant its thick, green, waxy, and heart-shaped leaves, marbled with white, yellow, or creamy golden.

There are 15 known types of pothos, one of the most popular ones are:

Golden Pothos

Golden pothos is the traditional pothos variety, having heart-shaped green foliage with streaks of creamy gold. It needs a lot of light and warmth to grow into a large plant, with vines clinging onto support and leaves becoming as big as 12 inches wide.

Neon Pothos

This type of pothos is distinguished by its bright chartreuse or golden yellow colored heart-shaped leaves that have no variegation. Neon pothos needs bright sunlight, a lack of bright light can result in the color of leaves becoming darker and duller.

Marble Queen Pothos

Being a common variety of pothos, marble queen pothos have heart-shaped green leaves, greatly splashed with streaks of creamy white. Some varieties of Marble Queen are more variegated, while some are less, with foliage size the same as the golden pothos.

Jessenia Pothos

Jessenia pothos is quite similar to that of Marble Queen pothos, but the heart-shaped leaves of Jessenia have darker limey-green variegation as compared to the lighter variegation of the Marble Queen.

Manjula Pothos

Manjula pothos feature prominently wide, heart-shaped leaves that are variegated with shades of light green, white, silver, and cream. All leaves are different, some have heavy splashes, while some have large patches of green color, with fewer streaks of other colors.

philodendron's flowers

Philodendron is a plant with large and dark green leaves and is native to South American rainforests. Philodendrons are characterized by aerial roots that stabilize the plant as it grows along the floor or against trees in the rainforest natively.

A 2015 study shows that there are more than 480 known types of philodendron plant, some of the most common ones are:

Oak Leaf Philodendron

The large, beautiful leaves of oak leaf philodendron or Philodendron Pedatum resemble the shape of oak tree leaves, but they continue to change their shape as the plant grows bigger.

Philodendron Xanadu

The characteristic feature of this plant is its lobed leaves, sitting on top of the long stems of the upright-growing plant. The rich green color of the leaves fades if it gets more sunlight than it needs.

Philodendron White Knight

This rare species of philodendron is identified by its distinct white or cream-colored splotches sitting prominently on the green leaves.

Split Leaf Philodendron

The split-leaf philodendron, as its name suggests, has split running from the edge of the leaf inwards, with the plant growing up to 10 feet high in natural habitats, and its height when kept indoors is about 4-6 feet.

Philodendron Binnatifidum

This type of philodendron has large and dramatic leaves, with deep lobes that appear to become bigger as the plant grows.

Philodendron Prince of Orange

The orange leaves of this philodendron give it an interesting name. This plant grows best in a shady place as it is particularly sensitive to direct and bright sunlight.

The Differences Between Pothos and Philodendrons

pothos vs philodendrons

After knowing a bit about pothos and philodendrons and their famous types, it’s now time to start exploring the factors that set both plants apart. They may look similar in a lot of features, but there are certain features that make the difference. We will look at 6 of such key differences here.

1. Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the branch of science that categorizes and classifies plants and animals into families and genera. Pothos and philodendrons belong to the same aroid plant family, called Araceae. But they are put under different genera. Pothos goes under the Epipremnum genus, while philodendron goes into the Philodendron genus.

2. Growth of new leaves

One of the ways to set pothos and philodendrons apart are the way the new leaves start growing. A new leaf of the pothos plant is curled tightly and is of a lighter shade of green than that of a mature leaf. As the leaf uncurls over time, it becomes darker and reaches the color of the other leaves when it matures.

On the other hand, the new leaves of philodendrons are covered in sheaths, termed cataphylls. When the leaf gets matured, the cataphylls first open and then dry up and finally fall off. The new leaf of a philodendron is pinkish or yellowish in color and becomes green as it reaches a mature age.

The new stem of a pothos is bright green in color, like the leaves. While the new step of the philodendron plant is brownish or orangey in color.

3. The shape of the leaf

Seeing the shape and texture of the leaves is one of the easiest ways to distinguish between pothos and philodendrons. Pothos have thick and waxy leaves, while philodendron has soft, thin, and heart-shaped leaves. Pothos leaves are wider, while the leaves of philodendrons are more perfectly heart-shaped, having a much prominent V deeper at the stem.

4. Different growing needs

While pothos and philodendrons are known as plants that need little maintenance, they have quite similar needs for temperature, light, water, and soil. But the difference is that pothos prefers a higher temperature than philodendrons. Both pothos and philodendrons can tolerate low-light setups, but philodendrons tolerate it more readily than pothos.

Philodendrons are not as tolerant to drought as pothos are. You could grow both plants at a new location using cuttings, you could propagate philodendrons by their offsets that grow from the base or roots of the plant.

5. Petioles

Petioles are small stems connecting leaves to the main stem of the plant. The Pothos petiole is curved inwards and indented, while the philodendron petiole is perfectly round in shape.

6. Aerial Roots

Both pothos and philodendrons have aerial roots to help them climb onto trees and supports. Philodendron has thin petioles, while pothos petioles are thick. There is just one petiole per node of the pothos plant, at the place where the petiole and leaf attach to the stem. While philodendron aerial roots maybe two or more, located at each node.

Take – Away

Pothos and philodendrons look very similar although they have specific differences that distinguish them.

If you happen to see a pothos and a philodendron, which are two similar-looking plants, with heart-shaped leaves hanging down from a plant pot, could you tell which one is a pothos and which one is a philodendron?

You should be able to tell the differences easily now that you have read this guide. A tip to remember is to first take a good view from some distance and then zoom into the plant to look closely at the leaves, petioles, and aerial roots.

A good thing is that both pothos and philodendrons require almost similar growing conditions, so you could grow them in the same place, without needing to know which is which.