Pothos VS Philodendron: What’s The Difference?

golden pothos

When it comes to pothos VS philodendron, you need to understand that these two are vining plants that thrive in warm or tropical climates. They are actually quite impressive and often used as houseplants because they can add a bit of an outdoor feel to your home interior.

To most inexperienced home gardeners, it can be very easy to confuse both plants. This is because the two of them share very close characteristics. One of their main similarities is that they are typically sold at the market in hanging baskets as they are meant to be decorated this way at home.

Both plants also have heart-shaped leaves. However, if you take a closer look, you will actually see that these two plants have a lot of differences. These differences has a huge impact when it comes to their care. This is why knowing whether you have a pothos or philodendron at home is quite important.

What’s Their Main Differences?


The philodendron belongs to the Araceae family. They are actually a very large family with almost 500 members. Many of them are grown as indoor or ornamental plants because they are known as the “love tree”, hence the name. The most popular type is the rapid growing vine called heartleaf philodendron.

The pothos plants on the other hand, is known in the U.S. as the golden pothos and it also belongs to the Araceae family. It is also known as the devil’s ivy. The name pothos however, refers specifically to the Epipremnum aureum. This plant is often wrongly labeled as the philodendron in many plant stores.

The pothos plant is known as the devil’s ivy simply because it is very hard to kill. It has caused extensive ecological damage in many areas around the world. It has been called the money tree in India and Bangladesh because it is known to grow and produce leaves abundantly inside the home.

What Are Their Differences In Appearance?

giant pothos

The heartleaf philodendron, which is typically used at home has heart-shaped leaves which are dark green in color and matte-toned. Its leaves are not shiny and the leaves can be as long as 3-4 inches when grown indoors. If it is grown outdoors, its leaves can grow as long as 12 inches.

The golden pothos on the other hand, has heart-shaped leaves which are medium-green in color. Its leaves can be seen with yellow patches and they can also grow 3-4 inches long. Its leaves are shiny, they are thicker and more substantial. If grown outdoors, its leaves can grow 18-24 inches long.

The leaves of the golden pothos can also be typically seen folded along the midrib and have dots and streaks of color. But the leaves of the heartleaf philodendron are flat and its color patterns typically appear in clean lines without being too intricate or unique from each other.

Philodendron in black background

Since the two of them belong to the same family, they can both produce spathe flowers. The flowers that these plants can produce actually look like small versions of the Spathiphylum, or the peace lily flower. The heartleaf philodendron however, produces green flowers throughout the year.

The golden pothos typically do not produce any flowers when grown indoors. But if grow outside, it can produce yellowish-white blooms. When grown in the right conditions, the Golden pothos can also grow as long as 40 feet. The heartleaf philodendron however, can only grow as long as 20 feet in height.

What Are Their Differences In Growth Requirements?


The golden pothos needs more sunlight in order to grow and thrive properly. If you want them to have variegation as well as visible leaf markings, they should also be grown in warm temperatures. Although it can still grow in indirect sunlight, it loses its vibrancy when grown in very dim light away from the sun.

The heartleaf philodendron on the other hand, can be grow in indirect sunlight without any problems. As a matter of fact, only a few house plants can tolerate low light conditions than this vine. It can be grown in dark corners but I think that it is best grown in moderately bright areas.

Since it has thicker and more substantial leaves, the golden pothos can be grow in rocky soil with very less water. Some gardeners even say that this plant is drought tolerant. The heartleaf philodendron on the other hand, needs to be grown in moist soil and it can tolerate fluctuations in household humidity.


Philodendron leaves

When it comes to Pothos VS Philodendron, knowing their differences is very important especially if you want to take care of your specific plant better. Although they might look similar at first glance, you need to understand that if you look closely, they actually have so many unique characteristics to boast of.

For example, the pothos, or the golden pothos have shiny, thick leaves as well as yellowish-white flowers that can be seen if you grow the plant outdoors. The heartleaf philodendron on the other hand, has matte and flat leaves that have clean streaks and flowers that can be seen all year round.

Since both plants are very different, you need to care for them and grow them according to their specific requirements. You can actually grow both indoors in moderate light and in moist soil. But if you want to bring out their best qualities, I highly recommend that you give them what they need.

Do you grow pothos or philodendron in your home? Tell us more about how you can differentiate one from the other in the comment section.

About the Author Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

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