Pothos vs Philodendron: How to Tell the Differences

Pothos and philodendron are the most popular houseplant. These indoor plants have some close similarities that confuse many homeowners in the United States of America.

The good news is that telling the difference between philodendron and pothos is quite easy. The article provides a detailed comparison between pothos and philodendron for you.

The main difference between pothos and philodendron is that the former have larger, thicker, and waxier foliage while the latter have thinner and more heart-shaped leaves.

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Comparison Table (Pothos vs Philodendron Plants)

Basic TermsPothos PlantHeart Leaf Philodendron
Foliage ShapeIrregular shape with less pointed tipMore heart-shaped with a longer spout-like tip
Leaf TextureThicker and waxierThinner and smooth surfaces
Color of New GrowthHave a lighter shadeHave brownish or pink tint
PetioleGroove ridge that run parallel along the stemRound and smooth with brownish color
Aerial RootsHave limited aerial roots that are small and thick nub.Have more extensive aerial roots that are thinner and more spindly.
VarietiesGold-hued Golden Pothos Neon Pothos Marble Queen PothosHeartleaf Philodendron Philodendron ‘Lemon Lime’ Philodendron ‘Brasil’
Light RequirementTolerate very low lightExperience leggy stems and small leaves under low light
Water RequirementMore drought tolerantLess drought tolerant
FlowersHave a green, purple and yellow flowersHave Green flowers
LengthLonger in size of about 65 feetSmaller in size of about 15 feet

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What Are Pothos Plants?

Pothos Plant

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a popular vining indoor plant in many homes. The houseplant is grown in baskets and it is a great deal for improving your house or office space.

The western Pacific island is the native habitat of the plant. The beautiful heart-shaped leaves happen to be the reason behind the alternative names like the golden pathos or devil’s ivy.

The indoor plant is marked by its long stems with aerial roots for attachment on the surfaces. The trailing vines make the houseplant a perfect choice to be grown in the basket, plant stand and book shelve.

Pothos plants come in different types. Each type tends to be quite different from all the species of philodendron plant. Some of the common types are golden pothos, jade pothos, and brasil pothos.

Growing all the species of pothos in your house will make your indoor space stand out from others in the neighborhood. The various variegations are quite appealing.

Keep in mind that pothos thrives under bright indirect light. Direct exposure to high-intensity sunlight will foster browning and drooping of the leaves.

Quick Pothos Plant Care Tips

  • Require bright indirect light. You need to grow the plant indoors and ensure the chosen space meets other requirements that suit the houseplant.
  • Hanging baskets that can rest on a bookshelf is the best place to grow pothos. It is a great option for growers practicing container gardening.
  • Always swab the leaves of the plant with cotton soaked in alcohol. It helps to kill any presence of pests causing diseases.
  • Have the habit of repotting the plant once the roots start to overgrow in the hanging basket.

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What Are Philodendron Plants?

Philodendron picture

Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) is yet another popular houseplant. It belongs to the Araceae family and it usually produces flowers like the pothos plant.

The natural habitat of this classic houseplant is the tropical rainforest of the West Indies and other parts of the Americas. Philodendron leaves are green with smooth surfaces.

The vine plant has yellow stripe variegation at the center and lime leaves. These striking colors help to improve your office or house space.

There are many species of philodendron plants. The most incredible thing is that each species tend to match with any house décor.

Distinguishing Features of Philodendrons

  • Have more extensive aerial roots
  • Have glossy and heart-shaped leaves
  • Tend to produce flowers throughout the year
  • Can grow to a maximum length of about 5-6 feet

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Differences between Philodendron and Pothos Plants

Foliage Shape

Both the houseplants have heart-shaped leaves. The foliage color is a distinguishing feature that helps to tell the difference between pothos and philodendrons.

But the color of the indoor plant will depend on the species. These houseplants tend to come in different varieties that can confuse cultivators.

Silver pothos has silver-like markings along the foliage surface and the golden pathos have glossy leaves with yellow stripes.

Philodendrons have dull and dark green leaves. But this might not apply to all the species of philodendrons. Some species have thinner and floppier leaves.

Plant Length

The plant length is another crucial factor that helps to tell the difference between philodendrons and pothos houseplants. Pothos are always bigger than philodendrons.

The average length of fully grown pothos is about 10 feet while that of philodendrons is about 6 feet. The good news is that these houseplants usually grow faster under optimal conditions.

Aerial Roots

Sometimes telling the difference between these indoor plants based on leaves can be difficult. Aerial roots make the difference between these vining plants look easier.

Pothos have aerial roots that are wider and stubbier while philodendrons have aerial roots that are long and spiral. You need to pay close attention to the roots to tell the difference.


Every plant has a stalk that connects the leaves to the stem. Pothos and philodendrons are not an exception.

Pothos have petiole that is slightly indented and marked with a brown edge appearance. On the other hand, philodendrons have more round and uniform petiole.

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Similarities between Pothos and Philodendron Plants

  • Both need moist soil.
  • Both plants produce flowers.
  • Both have heart-shaped leaves.
  • Both have a close resemblance to peace of lily.
  • Both indoor plants thrive in a tropical climate.
  • Both act as a living air purifier in the house or office
  • Both houseplant species thrive under bright and indirect sunlight.
  • Both develop aerial roots for climbing and absorbing nutrients from the air.

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Frequently Asked Questions (Pothos vs. Philodendron)

Are Pothos and Philodendron the Same Thing?

Not Really. These houseplants are quite different since they belong to different genera. Pothos belong to the Epipremnum genus while philodendrons belong to the Philodendron genus. But these indoor plants belong to the same Araceae family.

Which Grows Faster Pothos or Philodendron?

Pothos tend to grow faster than philodendrons. The pothos species are can withstand adverse weather conditions than philodendrons counterparts.

How Long Can A Pothos Plant Live?

The average lifespan of pothos is about 10 years. But ensure the plant is well taken care of according to their requirements. The indoor plant can be grown in a basket full of water without soil.

Does Pothos Clean the Air?

Absolutely. The plant flourishes indoors and can grow up to a height of 8 feet. Research shows that pothos is an effective indoor air purifier. The houseplant will help in the elimination of common toxins in the air.

How Quickly Does Philodendron Grow?

Philodendrons tend to grow faster in their tropical habitat to attain a height of 15 feet. But the growth rate is a little bit slow when cultivated in the house.

Can You Plant Pothos and Philodendron Together?

Absolutely. These houseplants have similar requirements. Remember to give each plant adequate space to enhance separate climbing. These indoor plants tend to spice and add great flavors to your space.

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Comparison Video

YouTube video


Pothos and philodendrons are spectacular plants for adding to your indoor space. The vibrant colors help to spice up your living space.

The core difference between pothos and philodendrons is that the former has larger and glossy leaves while the latter has dull and dark green leaves with smooth surfaces.

We hope the in-depth comparison will help you distinguish between philodendron species and pothos species. If we have missed out something, kindly let us know in the comment section.

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