Houseplants forum: Philodendron vs Pothos

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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 20, 2016 1:10 PM CST
Is there an easy way to tell the difference between Phils and Pothos? I have one small silver philodendron and two others that I thought were phils but was told are actually pothos. How do I tell them apart? Confused
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Apr 20, 2016 1:23 PM CST
1st one is Satin Photos. Other 2 look like regular (devil's) photos (ivy) to me. Gene
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Apr 20, 2016 1:32 PM CST
Marie, they are all related, all are in the Araceae (Aroid) family of plants. Pothos, Silver Pothos, Silk Pothos are all common names.

Your first plant: Silver Philodendron (Scindapsus pictus 'Argyraeus')

Your second and third plants are also in the same Araceae (Aroid) family but they are in the Genus Epipremnum, http://garden.org/plants/search/text.php?q=Epipremnum&button...
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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 20, 2016 2:23 PM CST
Ohhh.....so they are related. I had read they were completely different. Thanks. Trying to get a better understanding also of Genus, Species, and Cultivars and how they relate. Rolling my eyes. I keep telling myself it will eventually all make sense. NGA is an awesome research site for us novices.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Apr 20, 2016 5:43 PM CST
It can be very confusing! There are many different families of Flowering Plants (Angiosperms) http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/ and within each of those families, there are many different Genera and in each Genera (Genus) many different species.

For example:
Family Araceae: http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Araceae/
Genus - Philodendron: : http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Araceae/Philodendro...
Species of Philodendron: http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Araceae/Philodendro...

Then you get into Cultivars which are man-made hybrids. An example of one is: Philodendron (Philodendron 'King of Spades') (also known as 'Ace of Spades') which is a hybrid cross between two Philodendrons:
http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Philodendron%20Ace%20of%20Sp...
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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 21, 2016 5:28 AM CST
Ok, my head's spinning again!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
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WillC
Apr 23, 2016 9:17 AM CST
In most instances, knowing the precise botanical name matters mostly to botanists. Plants that are closely related often have similar care requirements, but not always. Once you have properly identified a plant, what matters is providing proper light and water.

All of yours are Pothos, not Philodendron. These two are often confused. As a general rule, Pothos have larger, thicker leaves and stems than Philodendron oxycardium. Pothos grow faster and are more hardy then Philodendron. Philodendron has darker green leaves and is rarely variegated as Pothos is. Their light and water requirements are very much the same.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 23, 2016 11:39 AM CST
Thanks Will. So even the first pic is a Pothos? So plant labels are sometimes/often incorrect or in the least blurred as in this case lumping Phils and Pothos together? The top plant was labeled a silver philodendron.

Yes, it does make it easier knowing the care requirement are basically the same.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Apr 23, 2016 6:08 PM CST
"Pothos" is one of the common names for all three of your plants.

Plant #1 is Scindapsus - common names: "Satin Pothos", "Silk Pothos" and "Silver Philodendron"

Plants #2 and Plant #3 are Epipremnum - common names: "Pothos" and "Devil's Ivy".
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 24, 2016 6:16 AM CST
Philodendrons have cataphylls (leaf sheaths.) Epipremnum & Scindapsus does not. That's an easily observable difference. Most plants have many overlapping common names.

The last 2 pics are Epipremnum aureum.
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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 24, 2016 9:15 AM CST
purpleinopp said:Philodendrons have cataphylls (leaf sheaths.) Epipremnum & Scindapsus does not. That's an easily observable difference. Most plants have many overlapping common names....


That is very helpful to know, thanks. Is it also accurate that Epipremnum & Scindapsus have a crease in the center of the leaf but philodendrons do not as well as longer tails at the end of the leaf?
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 24, 2016 10:19 AM CST
If you're comparing to heart-leaf vine, there's a vein in the center of the leaf but the leaves are flat, and don't have a prominent vein on the back. Epipremnum aureum leaves are often distinctly folded toward the front. I haven't had Scindapsus long enough to say much about it, just a few yrs.

Flat surface, central vein:


The leaf to the right in this pic is a good example too:


This pic of E. aureum shows the prominent vein on the back of the leaf well.
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Name: Marie
Ohio (Zone 6b)
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GrannyMarie
Apr 24, 2016 10:38 AM CST
Ahhha....ok, I see that! That's also a big help. Thanks!
[Last edited by GrannyMarie - Apr 25, 2016 12:13 AM (+)]
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Apr 25, 2016 5:11 AM CST
Glad you found it helpful, happy to share!
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