Pothos vs Philodendron

Pothos vs Philodendron: 6 Best Ways To Tell The Difference!

If you are looking for the difference between Pothos vs Philodendron, then you are at the right place. Here are yourdailyplace, we are going to tell you 6 ways easy ways from which you can tell the difference between Pothos vs Philodendron.

Pothos and vining philodendron varieties are two of the most popular houseplants, but they are commonly mistaken for one another. While they look similar and share many of the same growth requirements and habits, they are distinct plants with unique characteristics and requirements. They are easily distinguishable from one another once you know what to look for.

An Overview of Pothos vs Philodendron

Unsurprisingly, these popular houseplants have a plethora of common names. Pothos’s common names include Devil’s Ivy, Money Plant, Taro Vine, and Silver Vine. All of these names refer to the same plant, which is scientifically known as Epipremnum aureum. This is further complicated because it is sometimes listed as Scindapsus aureus. This is a scientific synonym for the same plant, but it is not the official scientific name.

Philodendrons are a large and diverse plant genus, but there are a few well-known philodendrons that are frequently confused with Pothos. Heartleaf Philodendron, the sweetheart plant, is frequently confused with Pothos. This plant has the scientific name Philodendron hederaceum, but it is more commonly known as Philodendron scandens.

Philodendrons and Pothos are both members of the Araceae family, but Pothos is in the genus Epipremnum, and Philodendrons is in the genus Philodendron.

Even before we get to the appearance of these plants, it is clear that identifying them by name can be difficult. Pothos and Heartleaf Philodendron are sometimes mislabeled by retailers, adding to the confusion.

Both plants have broad green or variegated leaves on trailing or climbing vines. They also grow to be about the same size and require similar care. Both are thought to be low-maintenance.

Pothos vs Philodendron: 6 Ways To Tell The Difference!

If you use these five ways, you can easily tell the difference between Pothos vs Philodendron:

1. Taxonomy of Pothos vs Philodendron

Both pothos and philodendron are members of the Araceae family, but there is a distinction to be made. Pothos are members of the Epipremnum genus, and philodendrons are members of the Philodendron genus.

The species Epipremnum aureum is the source of most pothos varieties, including golden pothos, neon pothos, and jade pothos.

On the other hand, Philodendron hederaceum, is the botanical name for the heart leaf philodendron. In addition to the classic green heartleaf philodendron, look for philodendron basil, which has a lime green stripe down the middle, and philodendron micans, which has velvety leaves.

2. Leaf Differences Between Pothos vs Philodendron

Though they appear similar on the surface, the leaves of the two plants have distinct differences that allow an experienced gardener to tell them apart at a glance. In some cases, the large variation within each species can obscure these points, but checking the leaves is usually the quickest method.

1. Shape

Examine the leaf’s middle span: Heartleaf Philodendrons have rounded, heart-shaped leaves with a longer spout-like tip. Pothos leaves are more irregularly shaped, with shorter and less pointed ends.

2. Texture

Philodendron leaves are thinner and smoother in texture. The topside has a smooth, almost velvety feel to it.

A Pothos leaf is thicker and has a slightly raised topside with texture. It also has a distinct ridge down the center midrib, which a Philodendron does not have. A Pothos leaf has the appearance and feel of being lightly waxed.

3. Finish

Heartleaf Philodendron leaves have a matte-like finish that absorbs light. A Pothos leaf’s waxy surface emits a gleaming radiance.

3. Does It Have Cataphyll for Leaf Protection?

To use this method, you’ll need to become familiar with some lesser-known plant parts, which provides accurate identification.

A cataphyll is a specialized sheath found in philodendrons. It sprouts from a stem node and protects each new leaf.

Cataphyll is a modified leaf in and of itself. While the “true” leaf unfolds, it remains on the stem for a short time to continue photosynthesis. The cataphyll eventually becomes papery thin, and brown before drying and falling off.

Pothos lacks these structures: new leaves emerge from an older leaf.

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4. New Growth Color

Heartleaf Philodendron has some peculiarities. One oddity is that the new leaves are frequently a different color than the main plant.

The emerging foliage of the Philodendron can be brownish or pink in color. Some varieties have more pronounced color variations: a deep green mother plant may have olive-colored new foliage, or its new growth may have orange or reddish hues.

Pothos doesn’t go all out with its new foliage. New leaves may be a shade lighter than the original, but they do not emerge completely differently.

5. The petition

There are a few noticeable differences between the two plants’ petioles. A petiole is a short stem that connects a leaf to the main vine.

The petiole of a Philodendron is round and smooth down its length. It is usually brownish or slightly lighter in color than the leaves.

A Pothos petiole has a grooved ridge that runs parallel to the leaf stem. The petiole is also thicker than that of a Philodendron. The color is similar to, or slightly lighter than, that of the foliage.

6. Roots from Above

Aerial roots emerge from the soil. These roots emerge from leaf nodes and can absorb moisture and nutrients, acting as mini-power plants along the vining stem. They give the plant the ability to climb and anchor itself for support.

Pothos and Philodendrons both have aerial roots. These are also aggressive roots, as they will attach themselves to any rough surface. If you don’t want your plant to climb, keep it contained; otherwise, when you remove it, it will leave dark root marks on your wall or furniture.

Pothos has a limited number of aerial roots that appear as small, thick nubs. Each node has one root.

The aerial roots of the Philodendron are more extensive and can resemble their own root system. They are thinner and more spindly than Pothos and appear in groups of two to six or more.

Note: Although aerial roots can become long and unsightly, they should not be pruned during their active growth period because they typically respond by multiplying. During the off-season, trim them.

Conclusion on Pothos vs Philodendron

Although this was a fairly technical post, I hope it helped you understand the distinction between common pothos vs philodendron houseplants. It’s amazing how two plants that appear very similar at first glance can suddenly be identified with just a few key features. If you have any doubts regarding this, you can ask us in the comment section. 


Q1. Can philodendron and pothos grow together?

You can grow them together because their light, soil, and moisture requirements are so similar.

Q2. What is the difference between Pothos vs Philodendron?

Although they are members of the same plant family (Araceae or the aroid plant family), they are not the same. Pothos plants are of the Epipremnum genus, whereas Philodendron plants are of the Philodendron genus.

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