Pothos vs Philodendron: What Are The Differences?

Pothos and Philodendrons are two types of plants that are commonly used as houseplants because they’re so easy to care for. People will often mistake one for the other, but there are key differences between them, like leaves and growth habits. 

This article will explain the pothos vs philodendron differences and what they mean to you when it comes to choosing which plant type to grow in your home or office.

Here are the in-depth, related guides on both plants: 

Pothos vs Philodendron Differences

Plant Names and Taxonomy

The pothos plant has multiple names, including: Devil’s Ivy, Devil’s Vine, Golden Pothos, Taro Vine, Silver Vine, and even Money Plant. 

The philodendron plant doesn’t have any nicknames like the pothos, but it does have hundreds of species with philodendron in the botanical and common names. Popular ones are the Philodendron Bipinnatifidum, Philodendron Hederaceum, Philodendron Scandens, and Philodendron Erubescens. 

They are both members of the Araceae family, but come from different genuses (genera). The pothos is part of the Epipremnum genus and the philodendrons are members of the Philodendron genus. 

Leaf Shapes and Textures

Both the pothos and philodendron have great looking leaves and vines, along with differences in their own varieties. But there are some general differences between the plants that will help you tell them apart easily.

While both of them have heart-shaped leaves, philodendrons are more rounded in shape than pothos plants, which tend to be more oval or oblong. Often, people will call the philodendron the heartleaf philodendron because they’re rounder, like a heart. 

The leaf texture of both plants are also different. The pothos leaves are waxier and thicker, while the philodendron are softer and thinner. 

Petioles / Stems

Petioles are stems that connect the leaves together on either side of the stem. They can vary greatly depending on the size of the plant.

Some petioles are very short, only reaching up to an inch long, while others may reach over six feet tall. Petiole length varies based on how big the plant gets. 

In addition to this, the pothos’ petioles are usually greenish yellow, while the philodendron petioles are white.  

The pothos petiole will look similar to a celery stalk in that it curves inward. The philodendron petiole is similar to most plants with it being rounded. 

Aerial Roots

Both the pothos and philodendron plants have vine varieties that are climbers, and their aerial roots help them climb and vine.

Philodendron plants tend to grow aerial roots which can help them spread out over time. They can have multiple small aerial roots that spring off one node. 

These root systems allow philodendron to survive when they’re cut back by gardeners. They also make it easier for philodendron to get nutrients up into their foliage.

Pothos plants will have one large aerial root growing off one node. This helps the plant stay upright as well as provide support for its weight. It also allows the plant to absorb water better through its larger surface area.

New Growth and Growth Habits

The way the pothos and philodendron plants grow will also differ. Both types of plants start out as seedlings, but then continue to develop differently after that point.

When the pothos starts out as a seedling, it grows slowly at first. As it matures, it begins to produce new growth faster. New shoots sprout all around the base of the plant, making it appear bushy.

New pothos leaves start out curled and will uncurl with time. The leaves will also darken as well as it matures. 

On the other hand, the philodendron starts out much smaller than the pothos. They will grow quickly once they begin producing new growth.

New leaves grow in cases called cataphylls for protection. As the leaves mature, the cataphylls will dry and fall off to reveal the baby leaf. 

New leaves will start out yellow or pink, and turn green with time. Once the leaves become fully developed, they’ll remain green until they die.  

Pothos and Philodendron Similarities

Even though they have differences, there are also some similarities between these two plants when it comes to the environmental conditions for growth. 

Both the pothos and philodendron plants can be grown indoors or outdoors.

They can both grow in low light conditions, but do best in bright indirect light. If you want your pothos or philodendron to thrive outside, try planting it in partial shade with dappled sunlight.

If you live somewhere where temperatures drop below freezing during winter months, keep your pothos or philodendron indoors.

When it comes to soil conditions, both of them like moist soil, but not soggy or the roots will rot. They like well-draining soil. The pothos is more drought-tolerant when it comes to watering and keeping the soil moist.  

Pothos vs Philodendron Final Thoughts

In the end, the pothos and philodendron plants are different from each other. However, if you know what characteristics you’d like your houseplant to possess, you should be able to find something suitable for your home.

Read more about houseplants in these related articles: 

Pothos vs Philodendron FAQs

Can you plant pothos and philodendron together?

Yes, you can plant the pothos and philodendron together as companion houseplants! They have similar requirements when it comes to light, soil, and water needs.

Which is easier pothos or philodendron?

Pothos plants are easier to grow than philodendrons. They are both easy to care for and have similar needs with water, light, and soil. Pothos plants are a bit more tolerant when it comes to light and water though, so it is easier to care for. The pothos will be more forgiving if it’s neglected a little.  

Is a golden pothos a type of philodendron?

No, the golden pothos is not a type of philodendron. It’s actually a type of pothos plant that has been bred specifically for its yellow coloration with its heart-shaped green leaves. This particular variety was created by crossing several species of pothos into one single hybrid.

Is silver pothos a philodendron?

No, the silver pothos is actually a pothos cultivar that has been selected because of its silver spots on its green leaves. It looks very similar to the common pothos, except for the fact that it doesn’t produce any flowers at all. Instead, this plant produces small white berries on its stems. These berry clusters look really pretty against the foliage of the plant.

Are the pothos and philodendron plants poisonous?

Yes, the pothos and philodendron plants are both toxic. Both contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation to the skin, mouth, and eyes. Keep them away from your pets and small children. If your cats or dogs happen to chew or eat either of their leaves and start exhibiting symptoms, be sure to call a vet or poison control immediately.

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
I love to grow houseplants and herbs at home! Growing plants has always been a hobby of mine, but it turned into an obsession when I moved out on my own. My apartment is now full of shelves of various plants and stacks of pots waiting for new life. It’s not uncommon to find me checking out the latest indoor plant trends online.