These are two tropical plants that are each vying for all the honors of being the number one indoor plant. It seems that no matter where you go, whether to visit a friend’s home or office space, you will find either a Pothos vs Philodendron plant trailing across a desk or bookshelf. Perhaps, scandalously, you will find both. This leads to a lot of questions:
- What is the big deal with these two plants?
- Why do they take up such a prominent position in window sill gardens, backyard patios, and other decorative features?
- Is one better than the other?
- How can you tell these plants apart?
All of these are really good questions and they all have really good answers. If you are curious to know what makes Philodendron and Pothos plants the champions of houseplants and how you can know which one you have growing in your home or garden, keep reading. We are going to get to know a lot about both of these wonderful plants and discover why you should have a few of your own.
Main Differences Between Philodendron Plants vs Pothos Plants
The main differences between Philodendron Plants vs Pothos Plants include:
- Philodendron plants produce new leaves from cataphylls, whereas Photos produce new leaves that grow in a curl and then unfurl as they mature.
- Philodendron plants can tolerate low light conditions, whereas Pothos plants are far more tolerant of low light conditions
- Philodendron plants can be propagated via stem cuttings, but they do not hold up as well as Pothos plants
- Philodendron plants have several aerial roots connected to each node, whereas Pothos plants only have one aerial root connected to each node
- Philodendron leaves curve inward at their base, whereas Pothos leaves are fairly straight at their base
- Philodendron plants have rounded petioles, whereas Pothos plants have petioles that are indented
- Philodendron plants have thin petioles, whereas Pothos plants have thick petioles
- The aerial roots of a Philodendron plant are small, whereas the aerial roots of a Pothos plant are large
- Philodendron plants are classified in the Philodendron genus, whereas Pothos plants are classified in the Epipremnum genus.
- Philodendron plants are not nearly as drought-tolerant as Pothos plants
- Philodendron leaves are shaped more like a heart than Pothos leaves
- Philodendron leaves are thinner and softer than Pothos leaves
- Philodendron leaves are not as large or as thick as Pothos leaves
- Philodendron leaves are not as waxy as Pothos leaves
There are many varieties of Philodendron plants, most of which are very easygoing and, of course, quite beautiful. An interesting feature of Philodendron plants is that they don’t always look alike. This makes it very difficult to list out a set of key features for Philodendron plants.
Key Features of Various Philodendron Varieties:
- There are varieties that grow in a vining pattern
- There are varieties that grow more like bushes
- There are varieties with pink and white variegations on their leaves
- There are varieties that have plain green leaves
- There are also varieties that have large splits in their leaves
- Philodendron plants are very easy to grow and care for
- Philodendron plants are easy to propagate
- Philodendron plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors
- Philodendron plants are toxic
- Philodendron plants are not cold-hardy
- Philodendron plants are susceptible to root rot from overwatering
- Philodendron plants are susceptible to infestations of aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites
While there are many varieties of Pothos plants, they all have a few basic key features that remain relevant to each one.
- Pothos plants grow in a vining formation
- Pothos plants have heart-shaped leaves
- Pothos plants grow new leaves without the assistance of cataphylls
- Pothos plants are extremely easygoing and easy to care for
- Pothos plants are forgiving if neglected
- Pothos plants can grow in low light conditions
- Pothos plants can be grown hydroponically
- Pothos plants are very easy to propagate
- Pothos plants are slightly drought-tolerant
- Pothos plants are toxic
- Pothos plants are not cold-hardy
- Pothos plants are susceptible to root rot from overwatering
- Pothos plants are susceptible to infestations of aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites
Alternative or Companion Plantings
Perhaps you are not sold on getting either of these plants for your home or garden space and you would like some more options.
Or, perhaps, you plan to get one or both of these plants but have heard how good it is to cluster tropical plants together for extra humidity. If either of these applies to you, we have a great list of plant options that will work as companions or alternatives to both Philodendron and Pothos plants.
This plant may be called a Pothos, but if you noticed, its biological name does not classify it as a real Pothos plant. Satin Pothos is a tricky plant because its name and its looks will make you think you are growing a Pothos even though you are not.
- Satin Pothos has heart-shaped leaves
- Satin Pothos has shiny leaves
- Satin Pothos has leaves that are variegated in a silvery-gray color
- Satin Pothos is easy to grow and propagate
- Satin Pothos has care requirements that are similar to those of Philodendron and real Pothos plants
- Satin Pothos is susceptible to root rot from overwatering
- Satin Pothos is susceptible to infestations of scale bugs and spider mites
- Satin Pothos is toxic
This is a tiny plant that is extremely cute and unfussy. Whether you want a plant companion or a plant alternative, you cannot go wrong with a String of Turtles.
- String of Turtles grows in a vining formation
- String of Turtles has round leaves
- String of Turtles has leaves that resemble the back of a turtle shell
- String of Turtles is easy to grow and to propagate
- String of Turtles has care requirements that are similar to those of Philodendron and Pothos plants
- String of Turtles is susceptible to root rot from overwatering
- String of Turtles is susceptible to infestations of mealybugs
- String of Turtles is toxic
- String of Turtles is not cold hardy
This is a lovely-looking tropical plant from Malaysia. If you love a little burst of color alongside your greenery, you are going to swoon for a Peacock Begonia.
- Peacock Begonia has thick and stiff stems
- Peacock Begonia grows leaves that look like crooked hearts
- Peacock Begonia grows leaves that are iridescent blue and green on their tops
- Peacock Begonia grows leaves that are red on their bottoms
- Peacock Begonia grows clusters of pink or white flowers
- Peacock Begonia has care requirements that are similar to those of Philodendron and Pothos plants
- Peacock Begonia is not toxic
- Peacock Begonia is susceptible to powdery mildew from misting its leaves
- Peacock Begonia is susceptible to infestations of whiteflies, thrips, and mealybugs
Answer: Yes, both of these plants can be propagated via seed and stem cutting. Here are the steps for these methods:Question: Do Philodendron and Pothos Plants Require the Same Type and Amount of Sunlight?
Answer: Yes, this is fortunate if you decide to get both plants. While Pothos plants can live in less light than Philodendron plants, they both grow their best in bright, but indirect sunlight. If you are unsure whether or not your home has this type of light, use either a light meter or a light meter app to test your indoor lighting. Then, you can compare the readings from these meters to a guide for indoor plant lighting.
Question: Do Philodendron and Pothos Plants Require the Same Type and Amount of Fertilizer?
Answer: These plants have slightly different fertilizer needs, but this is nothing that will cause you a headache. Here is the breakdown for how to properly feed each type of plant:
Philodendron plants should be fed a gentle fertilizer once a month from spring to fall. Allow the plant to rest during winter.
Pothos plants should be fed a worm compost or a 5-5-5 fertilizer only in the following cases:
• To boost its growth during the springtime
• To help it when it looks weak
Question: Can Both Philodendron and Pothos Plants be Watered Using the Soak and Dry Method?
Answer: Yes, in fact, this is the best method for watering these plants since it will reduce the risk of overwatering them and the risk of leaf, stem, and root rot. The steps for the soak and dry method are:
• Test the plant’s soil before watering and wait to water the plant if the top half of its soil is still wet
• Fill a container with water ensuring that the depth of the water will not overflow the top of the plant container
• Set the plant container into the water for fifteen minutes (make sure the plant container has open drainage holes in its bottom)
• Remove the plant container from the water and allow it to drain off excess water from its drainage holes
Question: What Type of Soil Do Each of These Plants Require?
Answer: Fortunately, they both need the same type of soil. They should be planted in well-draining and well-aerated soil, such as Happy Frog potting soil, an Aroid soil mix, or a homemade mix containing 50% perlite and 50% coco coir. The difference in their soil requirements will come with pH levels. Philodendrons prefer slightly acidic soil that ranges between 5.0 and 6.0. Pothos plants prefer soil that ranges between 6.1 and 6.5. It is very easy to test soil pH levels with a Soil pH Meter and adjust the levels up and down by adding different organic materials.
Answer: Do These Plants Have Different Temperature and Humidity Requirements?
Answer: The temperature and humidity requirements of these plants differ slightly, but the reality is, they can both live just fine within each other’s preferred growing environment.
• Philodendron plants prefer temperatures that range between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with average household humidity levels.
• Pothos plants prefer temperatures that range between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels between 50% and 70%.
• It is an easy solution to provide extra heat and humidity for all your tropical plants by using either a Pebble tray or a Plant humidifier to provide extra humidity and a Plant Heat Mat to provide extra heat.
Question: Can These Plants be Propagated Using the Same Method?
Answer: Yes, both of these plants can be propagated via seed and stem cutting. Here are the steps for these methods:
Propagating via Seed
• Purchase Philodendron or Pothos seeds from a reputable seller
• Soak Pothos seeds for 24 to 48 hours (Philodendron seeds do not need this)
• Fill a seed starter tray with seed starting mix
• Place the seeds in the seed starting mix and cover them lightly (too much soil will suffocate them)
• Moisten the soil lightly with a spray water bottle
• Set either the seed starter tray lid or plastic wrap over the top of the tray
• Place the tray in a room that is warm and has plenty of bright but indirect sunlight
• Remove the lid or the plastic wrap every few days to allow fresh air into the container
• Keep the soil moist
• Once sprouts have appeared and have grown strong, they can be transferred to a permanent plant container and treated as mature plants
Propagating via Stem Cuttings in Water:
• Sterilize a cutting utensil
• Cut off a healthy stem that includes at least one node and one leaf
• Set the stem in a glass of clean water (make sure that the leaves are not covered by water since this will cause them to rot)
• Place the glass in a room that is warm and has access to plenty of bright but indirect sunlight
• Change the water every week
• Once roots appear, transplant the plant to a container filled with soil and treat it as a mature plant
Propagating via Stem Cuttings in Soil:
• Sterilize a cutting utensil
• Fill a well-draining plant container with well-draining soil
• Cut off a healthy stem that includes at least one node and one leaf
• Set the stem securely in the soil
• Place the plant container in a room that is warm and has access to plenty of bright but indirect sunlight
• Moisten the soil
• Care for the plant as you would a mature plant being careful to not let it get cold or sunburnt or allow its soil to get soggy
Pothos vs Philodendron: In Conclusion
These two plants are certainly excellent houseplants and they certainly have many similar qualities and features about them. But, nature is full of variety, be it large or small, and this is no more evident than when you compare and contrast Philodendron plants with Pothos plants.
Whether you decide to get a Pothos or a Philodendron plant or a few of each, you are guaranteed to have the loveliest and most easygoing garden around.