Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: What is the Difference?

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: January 12, 2023
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Houseplants are growing in popularity, and it is understandable why. They make beautiful decorative pieces while also bringing calming energy and increasing your air quality. Heartleaf philodendron and pothos plants are gorgeous with unique leaves. Some types are also variegated!

This article will discuss the key differences between heartleaf philodendron and pothos and how to identify each. With so much to learn, let’s dive right in!

Comparing Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos

Heartleaf PhilodendronPothos
Scientific ClassificationHeartleaf philodendron is part of the arums family and philodendron genus.Pothos plants belong to the pothos family and the Epipremnum genus.
DescriptionThe most notable part about this plant is its large 3-4 inch long heart leaves. The vines/stems are long and grow multiple leaves, which is perfect for hanging or supporting with a trellis. When it ‘blooms,’ it produces a bright yellow and green spathe.The leaves are heart-shaped with splashes of green, yellow, and white. It is an evergreen houseplant on long cascading stems. When grown outside and fully mature, pothos plants produce a cream and purple spathe.
UsesA popular houseplant, it can also be grown outdoors in hanging baskets or as an aesthetically pleasing climbing vine. Potentially improves oxygen levels.Used as an indoor houseplant. Can be grown in a greenhouse. They also eliminate toxins in the air and increase oxygen, bettering sleep and moods.
OriginThis plant is native to Mexico, Brazil, and the West Indies.This plant is native to China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Guinea.
Growing PreferencesOutdoors; it grows best in USDA zones 11 and 12.Outdoors; it grows best in USDA zones 9b to 12.

Key Differences Between Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos

Heartleaf philodendron and pothos plants are a joy to have in any home. They are beautiful, shade-loving, tropical houseplants that require special care and attention. While they may look similar upon first look, they are more different from anything. They belong to the same family but different genera. Often, gardeners and plant enthusiasts decorate their homes with both heartleaf philodendron and pothos. Regardless if you are looking for a new houseplant of your own or you are simply curious, it is good to know the differences between these popular plants. Follow along to learn more!

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Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: Classification

Philodendron hederaceum

Heartleaf philodendron plants are a part of the arums family and the

Philodendron

genus.

©iStock.com/Firn

The first biggest difference between heartleaf philodendron vs. pothos is their scientific classification. Heartleaf philodendron plants are a part of the arums family and the Philodendron genus. They are related to taro plants. Pothos, on the other hand, is part of the Epipremnum genus but shares the same arum family.

Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: Description

golden pothos

Pothos produce flowers in mature adult stages but rarely indoors.

©iStock.com/Firn

Their appearances are enough to confuse many people into mixing them up as the same plant. Heartleaf philodendron plants are adorable popular household plants. As their name suggests, the leaves are naturally shaped like hearts. They produce dozens of leaves on long stems that hang down but can also climb up with help from a trellis or strong structure. The leaves are a deep green, and some varieties are variegated with yellow, white, and green leaves.

Pothos plants look almost identical to the heartleaf philodendron. They are 20-foot vines that you can plant hanging down or crawl up. Mature leaves are dark green with golden yellow streaks or spots. The leaves are also heart-shaped but can grow up to 39 inches in length. Pothos produce flowers in mature adult stages but rarely indoors. When they do, they are a creamy white spathe.

Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: Uses

While you can grow heartleaf philodendron and pothos outdoors, they are typically kept as indoor houseplants while they are young. Both plants offer plenty of health benefits, including being mess-free. You don’t need dirt to grow pothos, which is perfect when you are growing indoors. Pothos specifically also does not require a lot of light. Even in a dark room, the leaves remain a deep and vibrant green. Both plants also naturally purify the air.

Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: Origin

pothos plant

Pothos originates in China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Guinea.

©iStock.com/Jenny Sun

Despite their similarities, heartleaf philodendrons and pothos do not originate from the same areas. Actually, heartleaf philodendron is naturally from Mexico, Brazil, and the West Indies. Pothos originates in China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Guinea. Although these plants are not from the United States, they grow well there indoors.

Heartleaf Philodendron vs. Pothos: Growing Preferences

When growing these plants outdoors, not a lot of care is needed. Heartleaf philodendron grows best in USDA zones 11 and 12. This sweetheart plant needs humidity to excel. If you grow the plant indoors, create a humid environment. Pothos grows in a similar environment but does best in USDA zones 9b to 12. Indirect and low light works well for both heartleaf philodendron and pothos.

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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