Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Is There A Difference?

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: March 11, 2023
© A-Z-Animals.com
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One of the most well-liked indoor plants is the pothos, and for good reason! They are attractive, quite easy to maintain even for beginners, and they can clean the air of any indoor space they are placed in. The generic name “pothos” refers to a number of species of climbing plants with waxy, medium-sized, heart-shaped leaves. The leaves may be entirely green or speckled with white, cream, yellow, light green, or gold. Being a very common indoor plant and being very simple to care for, pothos plants are a great option for houseplants. They are beloved by plant parents partly because of their occasionally variegated leaves, which add a splash of unexpected color to the otherwise bright foliage, but they are also well-liked simply because they are stunning to look at overall.

So when it comes to pothos and devil’s ivy, is there actually any difference? In this guide, we’ll break down the answer to this question along with everything you need to know about the stunning pothos plant and how to grow your own either indoors or outdoors.

Comparing Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy

PothosDevil’s Ivy
ClassificationEpipremnum aureumEpipremnum aureum
Alternative NamesDevil’s Ivy, Money PlantGolden Pothos, Devil’s Vine
OriginSoutheastern Asia, French PolynesiaSoutheastern Asia, French Polynesia
DescriptionA large trailing vine plant with heart-shaped leaves and a climbing habit that is commonly kept as a houseplant due to its ease of care.A large trailing vine plant with heart-shaped leaves and a climbing habit that is commonly kept as a houseplant due to its ease of care.
UsesOrnamental, houseplantsOrnamental, houseplants
Growth TipsAlways keep pothos plants in bright, indirect sunlight.Ensure that the soil used to plant pothos in pots or outdoors is aerated and well-draining to avoid root rot.
Interesting FeaturesPothos can be grown in extremely minimal light without sustaining too much damage.Known for being very easy to care for and very tolerant of neglect as an indoor plant.

The Key Differences Between Pothos and Devil’s Ivy

Well, this is awkward! There is actually no difference between pothos and devil’s ivy. “Devil’s ivy” is a common name for the pothos plant, specifically the golden pothos or Epipremnum aureum plant. Pothos is often called devil’s ivy for a number of reasons. To start, it is virtually unkillable. Pothos can tolerate a lot of neglect and even very low lighting, though it does need at least some light to survive. Pothos is also known as devil’s ivy because it can be invasive in some parts of the world. It has caused quite a bit of damage in the state of Florida, where it grows as a weed that is capable of suffocating and killing trees.

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So, to put it simply: There is no difference between pothos and devil’s ivy. Both are names for the same plant, Epipremnum aureum.

Pothos dorati o Epipremnum aureum, best indoor plant
Pothos and devil’s ivy (pictured) refer to the same plant species.


Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Classification

Pothos or devil’s ivy is classified as Epipremnum aureum. It is often referred to as golden pothos, devil’s vine, ivy arum, or the taro vine. Pothos is part of the Pothos genus as well as the arum family known as Araceae. As a member of the Araceae family, the pothos plant is closely related to the elephant foot yam, taro, and breadfruit plants.

Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Description

One of the most well-liked houseplants in North America is the pothos, which is sometimes referred to as devil’s ivy, golden pothos, or hunter’s rove. It is classified as Epipremnum aureum. The 15 species of pothos in the Pothos genus are native to areas in Southeast Asia to the western Pacific, the Pothos genus, which contains roughly 15 species in the arum family, is found. However, when someone mentions “pothos,” they most likely mean the particular species of Epipremnum aureum.

In tropical areas, pothos is cultivated as a climbing vine on trees or as a ground cover. It can also be cultivated indoors as a potted plant or trained up a moss pole outside for landscaping purposes. It can also be planted in hanging baskets, used as an underplanting for big potted plants, or grown as a tree. Formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene are just a few of the indoor contaminants that it is highly effective at eliminating from the air, according to one popular NASA study.

As a juvenile, it creates small terrestrial colonies, but as it ascends higher in the canopy of trees, the leaves increase in overall size. As they ascend towards the canopy, these plants also create abundant aerial roots, which are roots that emerge from nodes and internodes to attach to surfaces. The base of the stem is covered by knee-shaped leaf stalks. In the West, this species is always cultivated as a houseplant or seasonal annual because it is only hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12.

Pothos is a fantastic plant for beginners because it’s so easy to cultivate and even propagate into more plants. Although it can live in a variety of climatic environments, it thrives in filtered light, high humidity, and temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees F. It can handle some direct sunshine, but not much, so be sure to keep your pothos in bright, indirect sunlight or low light.

Giant jade pothos plant (Epipremnum aureum) growing wild
With the right amount of care, pothos (pictured) can grow quite large indoors and outside.

©iStock.com/Suprabhat Dutta

Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Uses

Pothos or devil’s ivy plants are mainly used for ornamental purposes, especially as indoor houseplants. They look beautiful hanging from the ceiling in a basket and are frequently used to decorate kitchen windowsills or bookshelves. They can also make one’s house appear like an authentic urban jungle once they start growing out and vining. The long stems of pothos make for great interior hanging plants, and they look particularly beautiful when allowed to cascade over baskets or the sides of shelves.

Pothos is also said to bring luck and wealth in some areas. One of its many popular names is the “money plant,” which is utilized in conventional Feng Shui to promote financial wealth and success.

Pothos plants are well renowned for being able to purify the air in addition to being very simple to maintain. Several well-known indoor plants have been shown to be quite effective in removing indoor air pollutants, according to research from NASA. The formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide removal abilities of the golden pothos are extremely strong. We advise keeping potted pothos plants near entrances and adjacent to garages where automobile exhaust fumes may be present because of this air-purifying characteristic.

Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Origin

The devil’s ivy plant, also known as pothos, was once native to the island of Mo’orea in the Society Islands. In many tropical nations, notably in Southeast Asia, it is currently growing in the wild. Pothos also grows wild (and often invasive) in more “tropical” areas like Florida and Hawaii in the United States.

Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: How to Grow

This quick-growing houseplant is ideal for both novice and experienced indoor gardeners. It looks lovely cascading down from a bookcase or desk and can be trained up a trellis or across a wall to produce a striking impression. It is easy to maintain and tolerant of a variety of situations. If desired, carefully place the stems over wall nails or pushpins for support or wrap them around or attach them to a trellis.

Between waterings, pothos plants prefer to dry out quite a bit. You may have waited too long if you see leaves browning or dropping off. Watering more often also means avoiding dry, brown leaf margins. Each time you water them, make sure to completely soak the plant until water flows out of the drainage holes in the container and then wait until it has dried before watering it once again. Despite preferring greater humidity levels, pothos can endure the drier air found in most indoor spaces.

Pothos does best in strong indirect light, not direct sunlight. However, it will also thrive in more shaded areas and even under fluorescent lights. It could grow a little lanky if there isn’t enough light, though. To produce a bushier look, trim back the stems regularly. In shaded settings, variegated varieties may also lose their coloring and turn completely green. Low-light conditions are highly tolerable to most pothos plants, but that doesn’t mean it is the best lighting for these plants.

To encourage the growth of roots, the soil you use should be well-draining and aerated. In the spring and summer, when the plant is actively developing, fertilize once a month. Avoid fertilizing your pothos or devil’s ivy in the winter.

Due to their rapid growth, pothos plants eventually require repotting. You’ll know if your devil’s ivy needs a repot if you notice roots emerging from the pot’s base or if water drains out of the drainage holes right away when you water. In order to release the roots, take the plant out of the pot. Using new and fresh houseplant soil, repot the plant into a container that is no more than a few inches bigger than the previous one. Don’t forget to wash out the soil from your pothos’ roots, especially if it is very root bound. Pothos can tolerate a lot of neglect, but they do not like being root bound.

Repotting a pothos plant
Root bound pothos (pictured) need to be regularly repotted to avoid causing harm to the plant.


Pothos vs. Devil’s Ivy: Protections and Conservation

The pothos plant or devil’s ivy is not considered extinct or in need of special protection from any government body. 

That being said, pothos plants are often very invasive in some areas. Some places where wild pothos plants are invasive include Florida, Hawaii, and much of the southeastern United States. They may be quite invasive when planted outside in the ground in warm regions and will spread and smother native species. It is definitely advisable to maintain your outdoor pothos as a houseplant in order to support the preservation of local native plants and biodiversity in your area.

The pothos or devil’s ivy plant is an excellent houseplant for virtually any household. If you can keep your pothos away from pets and children, provide occasional care, and provide it with the right amount of sunshine, you’ll have a beautiful pothos plant that will grow for years to come. There’s really nothing to hate about this classic houseplant!

Want to learn more about the eye-catching pothos houseplant? Check out our in-depth guide to everything you need to know about pothos!

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Pothos vs Devil's Ivy
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About the Author

I'm a lover of all things sustainability, from urban farming to not killing houseplants. I love carnivorous plants, indigenous crops, and air-cleansing indoor plants. My area of expertise lies in urban farming and conscious living. A proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are pothos and devil's ivy the same thing?

Yes. Both terms refer to the same plant.

Are devil's ivy and philodendrons the same plant?

No. Both plants are in different genera, but are both part of the same plant family.

What type of pothos is referred to as devil's ivy?

The term can be used to refer to all pothos, though technically “devil’s ivy” refers to the golden pothos or Epipremnum aureum.

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