Philodendron Vs. Pothos: What Are The Differences 

Houseplants all come with distinctive features that help set them apart, as no two houseplants can be the same. It can be their colors, leaf shapes, flowers, or even size. But some share such close similarities that one might end up confusing both. A good example would be heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos.

Philodendron vs. Pothos

Philodendron and Pothos are both flowering houseplants loved by many. They are both low-maintenance plants with glossy heart-shaped leaves. Upon first glance, both the Philodendron and pothos look very similar. But upon closer inspection, you would be able to distinguish between them. Also, apart from appearance, both plants share very similar care and maintenance practices.

Differentiating between both plants can be easy if you know what to look for. Although they may be similar, there are also obvious differences between both plants.

Similarities between Pothos and Philodendron

Before going into the differences between both plants, let’s look at how both plants are similar. Both Philodendron and Pothos belong to the same Araceae family of plants. They are both tropical vines and love growing on the sides of trees, poles, and other plants. When grown indoors or in containers, trellis or poles are often used to train them to climb upwards. They are also grown in hanging baskets as they make great trailing plants.

As for appearance, both the Philodendron and Pothos plants grow heart-shaped leaves that have a glossy green color. Adult philodendrons and pothos are also similar in size, usually the size of an adult palm. Also, both the philodendron and pothos plants thrive better in warm and well-lit environments.

Differences between Pothos and Philodendron

Pothos and philodendrons might seem similar from afar, but upon closer inspection, you should be able to see their differences. Their differences lie in their taxonomy, leaf texture, and also their growth habits. All these differences would be difficult to spot if you didn’t know what to look for.


Taxonomy is simply the science of classifying and naming organisms. This is used to group plants, animals, and other organisms into their various groups for easy identification.

Both Pothos and Philodendron are from the same Araceae family of plants but have different genera. Pothos is part of the Epipremnum genus, while Philodendrons belong to the Philodendron genus. Pothos, or the devil’s ivy, as it is popularly known, has other popular varieties such as golden, jade, and neon pothos.

Leaf shape and texture 

Leaf shape and texture 

Although the leaves of Pothos and Philodendron are similar in shape, their textures are not. The philodendron has more heart-shaped leaves compared to the pothos. They have a thinner, softer, and smoother texture. Also, the bases of the philodendron are more curved inwards, improving its resemblance to the heart.

Pothos leaves, on the other hand, have a thicker, waxy feel with a slightly raised texture. The bases of pothos, where the stems connect to the leaves, are straighter compared to those of philodendrons.


Petioles are the small stems that connect the leaves to the main stem of the plant. Philodendron petioles are fully rounded and are also much thinner. On the other hand, the petioles of Pothos are indented and curved inwards towards the stem of the plant. They also have thicker petioles when compared to those of philodendrons.

Aerial roots

Aerial roots are also known as air roots. They grow from the stem of the plant above the ground and are used to absorb water from the surrounding air. Both Philodendron and Pothos have aerial roots which aid them in climbing. Aerial roots in pothos are thicker compared to those in philodendron and have only one per node. Philodendron, on the other hand, can have two or more thinner aerial roots per node.

The habit of new leaf growth

The way new leaves sprout in philodendron and pothos is somewhat different. In philodendron, new leaves start their growth in cataphylls, which are leaves that encase and protect new leaves as they grow. They do not grow into leaves but dry up and fall off as the philodendron’s new leaves grow and mature.

Pothos, on the other hand, does not start its new growth in cataphylls. Instead, they sprout new growth from their previous leaves. As they mature, the previous leaves will darken over time.


Are pothos and philodendrons toxic to pets?

Yes, both Pothos and Philodendron are toxic to humans and pets such as cats and dogs. Ingesting them can cause irritation and swelling in the mouth, tongue, lips, and throat.

Are Pothos and Philodendron epiphytes?

Yes, both Pothos and Philodendron are epiphytic as they both have aerial roots for absorbing water and nutrients in the air.

Pothos or philodendron: which is more heart-shaped?

Philodendron is more heart-shaped compared to Pothos. Philodendron also has a curved base, which makes it more heart-like.

What is the quickest way to tell a pothos from a philodendron?

The fastest way would be through the shape of the leaves and the number of aerial roots present in each node. Philodendrons are more heart-shaped and have multiple aerial roots compared to pothos.

How to differentiate between Pothos and Philodendron through leaf texture?

Philodendron has a more thin and smoother texture compared to Pothos, which is thick and waxy.