Philodendron vs Pothos: Difference and Comparison

Philodendrons and pothos are both climber plants that have several similarities.

For starters, each of them belongs to the same family called Araceae. They creep into any space they can find, be it other trees, buildings, or electricity poles.

Their roots and aerial and their leaves as glossy and heart-shaped. However, there are several differences between them as well that may seem hard to notice at first glance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Philodendrons are a large flowering plant genus, while pothos is part of the Epipremnum genus.
  2. Philodendrons have a broader range of leaf shapes and sizes, whereas pothos leaves are heart-shaped and more uniform.
  3. Pothos are better suited to low-light environments, while philodendrons require more sunlight.

Philodendron vs Pothos

Philodendron plants are known for their large, glossy leaves and distinctive aerial roots, coming in various shapes and sizes. Pothos plants, also known as Devil’s Ivy, have heart-shaped leaves that are variegated with shades of green, yellow, and white and are easy to care for.

Philodendron vs Pothos

Philodendron is the term for a wide variety of climbers that have flowers. It has around 489 species, making it the second-largest in its family in terms of variety.

The leaves of this plant grow on its vine, which is opaque, thin, and waxy. New leaves that grow in the plant have a slightly pink or brownish tint to them.

Meanwhile, pothos is a plant species commonly known as devil’s vine or money plant. Its name is such because, at times, it can get almost impossible to kill it.

However, unlike philodendrons, the leaves of pothos grow out from other leaves in the plant. Moreover, new leaves only have a lighter shade than other fully grown leaves.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPhilodendronPothos
TypeIt is a genus of plants from the family Araceae.It is a species of plant from the family Araceae.
DescriptionIt has thin heart-shaped leaves that are smooth in texture, have a protruding sinus and a very pointy tail.It has relatively thicker leaves that are spade-shaped, bumpy in texture, and even asymmetrical at times.
GrowthIts leaves grow on the vine of the plant.Its leaves grow out from new leaves.
New LeavesThe new leaves have a pink or brownish tint to them.The new leaves are only of a lighter shade than old leaves.
StemsThe stem is relatively thin and has a greenish-brown colour.The stem is thick and of the same colour as the leaves.
RootsThe aerial roots are thin, spindly, and grow in groups.The aerial roots are thick and individually placed.

What is Philodendron?

Philodendron is the name of a genus of climber plants. These plants are grown at homes for ornamental purposes. The name ‘philodendron’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Philo-‘, meaning love or affection and ‘-dendron’, meaning tree.

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Around 489 species in this genus belong to the Araceae family. However, many of them remain undescribed.

The leaves of the philodendron genus plants are thin and smooth to the touch. Their shape is like that of a spade.

The sinus, which is where the two different lobes or sides of the leaves meet, is very protruding. The end of the leaf at the top is very pointy.

These leaves are known to grow out from the vine itself. When new, the leaves have a pink or brownish tint to them. As they grow and become full-sized, their colour changes to green.

The stem of the plant is thin and greenish-brown in colour. In contrast, its roots are thin and spindly. They grow in groups, making the stems and leaves closely placed together.

Philodendron plants reproduce by growing an inflorescence. This is a leaf-like hood that contains a tube-like structure inside it. For pollination, these plants use the help of specific beetles that carry pollen from one plant to the other. 

philodendron

What is Pothos?

Unlike philodendron, pothos is only a species of flower. It is most commonly known by the name ‘Devil’s ivy’ or ‘money plant’. The plant is very popular as an ornamental feature for homes.

An interesting fact about it is that it is very difficult to kill this plant. It even stays green when kept in the dark for long durations.

Regardless, pothos leaves are thin, bumpy, and irregular. Their shape is more like a heart. However, it is very common for different leaves in a single plant to grow asymmetrically.

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Unlike the former, the leaves of pothos grow out of old leaves in the plant. The new leaves only have a lighter shade than fully grown leaves.

The pothos’ stem is thick and the same colour as the leaves.  The roots of the plant are aerial as well. However, they do not form groups.

Each individual node is placed separately and relatively far from the other. This results in the leaves and stems also having considerable space between them.

Unfortunately, these plants can only grow flowers if they are spiked with artificial supplements. The last known flower that grew out of a pothos plant was in 1964. A caution while growing this plant at home is that it can be toxic if consumed by dogs and cats.

pothos

Main Differences Between Philodendrons and Pothos

  1. Philodendron is a genus of plants from the family Araceae, whereas pothos is a species of plants from the family Araceae.
  2. Philodendron has thin heart-shaped leaves that are smooth in texture, and have a protruding sinus and a very pointy tail, whereas pothos has relatively thicker leaves that are spade-shaped, bumpy in texture, and even asymmetrical at times.
  3. Philodendron leaves grow on the vine of the plant, whereas pothos leaves grow out from new leaves.
  4. The new leaves of philodendrons have a pink or brownish tint, whereas the new leaves of pothos are only of a lighter shade than the old ones.
  5. The stem of a philodendron is relatively thin and has a greenish-brown colour, whereas the stem of a pothos is thick and of the same colour as the leaves.
  6. The aerial roots of philodendrons are thin, spindly, and grow in groups, whereas those of pothos are thick and individually placed.
Difference Between Philodendron and Pothos
References
  1. https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/27/3/article-p222.xml
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030442381200177X

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Philodendron vs Pothos: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I’m very puzzled as to why the differences between these plants are so important to know. Is this really a relevant topic to discuss?

    Reply
  2. Philodendron and Pothos are delightful plants that bring so much beauty to wherever they grow. I’m happy the post explained their characteristics so thoroughly.

    Reply
  3. The article is very informative on the similarities and differences between Philodendron and Pothos. I now know which one to get for my apartment!

    Reply

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