Golden Pothos vs. Pothos: Unveiling the Key Differences

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Golden pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, is a popular houseplant known for its ease of care and stunning golden-yellow foliage. However, some people may wonder if there are any differences between golden pothos and other types of pothos. In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these beloved plants.

Golden Pothos Vs Pothos: Understanding the Differences

Origin and Classification

Golden Pothos and Hawaiian Pothos are both varieties of Epipremnum aureum. The Golden Pothos has dark green leaves with golden flecks, making it easily recognizable. It is commonly found in plant stores and nurseries. On the other hand, Hawaiian Pothos is thought to be a cultivar of Golden Pothos, known as Epipremnum aureum ‘Hawaiian’.

Common Names

Both plants are known by several common names, leading to some confusion between them. While they share many similarities, they also have notable differences, primarily in leaf size, growth rate, and variegation patterns.

  • Golden Pothos: The foliage of Golden Pothos is characterized by its dark green leaves with golden-yellow flecks. The leaves are relatively small, growing up to 3-4 inches long and wide indoors. However, when grown outdoors, they can span up to 24 inches or more. The golden variegation pattern of the Golden Pothos often appears mottled on highly variegated plants, with the leaves starting out as a bright, almost luminescent green and darkening with age. (source)
  • Hawaiian Pothos: Unlike Golden Pothos, the Hawaiian Pothos has larger leaves, growing much bigger than the size of a hand under ideal lighting conditions. This feature results in an overall larger plant, which grows comparatively faster due to its size and larger leaves’ ability to absorb more sunlight. The variegation pattern of Hawaiian Pothos is different from Golden Pothos, displaying dark green, yellow, and white streaks on its foliage.

In summary, while Golden Pothos and Hawaiian Pothos are related varieties of Epipremnum aureum, they have distinct differences in leaf size, growth rate, and variegation patterns. Recognizing these differences can help gardeners choose the right Pothos variety for their preferences and growing conditions.

Physical Characteristics

Leaf Variation

Golden Pothos and Hawaiian Pothos are two popular plant varieties that share some similarities in growth and appearance. However, there are notable differences in their leaf characteristics. The Golden Pothos exhibits a vivid yellow hue, while the Hawaiian Pothos features a darker green hue with yellow and white streaks, resulting in variegated leaves source. When considering leaf size, Hawaiian Pothos leaves tend to grow larger than those of the Golden Pothos under the same conditions source. The leaf shape of both plants is generally rounded and heart-shaped.

Stem Structure

The stem structure also differs between these two types of Pothos plants. Golden Pothos plants have light green to yellow vines and petioles, while Hawaiian Pothos stems exhibit a darker green hue. The Golden Pothos’ stems are cylindrical in shape source. Meanwhile, both plants can climb with the help of aerial roots source.

Flower Formation

Although the focus of this article is primarily on leaf and stem differences, it’s essential to note that Pothos plants, in general, rarely flower indoors. Typically, these plants are grown for their attractive and vibrant foliage without the expectation of seeing blossoms.

Growth and Care

Light Requirements

Golden Pothos and Hawaiian Pothos have different light requirements. Golden Pothos prefers indirect, bright light, while Hawaiian Pothos may tolerate lower light levels. However, both types can adapt to various light conditions, making them versatile houseplants. If the lighting is sufficient, Hawaiian Pothos leaves can grow larger than your hand, while Golden Pothos will maintain smaller leaves source.

Watering Practices

Both Golden and Hawaiian Pothos require balanced watering. It’s essential to let the soil partially dry between waterings, as overwatering may lead to root rot. Water these plants thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry several inches deep before watering again. Drainage holes at the bottom of the pot are crucial to prevent excess water from sitting in the container.

Fertilizer Needs

Golden and Hawaiian Pothos benefit from fertilizer applications, especially during their active growing season. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks in spring and summer to encourage growth. Reduce the frequency of fertilization during fall and winter, as the plants’ growth slows down.

Repotting these plants is also essential for maintaining their health. Golden Pothos may require repotting when the roots become pot-bound or start spiraling around the pot’s bottom source. On the other hand, the larger size and rapid growth of Hawaiian Pothos may necessitate more frequent repotting source. Always choose a pot that is only 1-2 inches wider and deeper than the plant’s root ball and ensure it has proper drainage holes.

Propagation Techniques

Golden pothos and pothos plants are popular houseplants that can be easily propagated using various techniques. Here are two common methods: stem cuttings and air layering.

Stem Cuttings

Propagating pothos with stem cuttings is a simple and reliable method. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Disinfect your tools and choose a healthy parent plant.
  2. Take 4-6-inch length cuttings below the nodes, ensuring each cutting has at least one leaf and one node.
  3. Root the cuttings in water or soil. To root in soil, dip the cut end in rooting hormone and make sure to cover the first set of root nodes, then plant in a potting mixture of half peat moss and half perlite or sand.
  4. If rooting in water, replace the water every week and ensure that the stem and node are always submerged.
  5. Place the cuttings in bright indirect sunlight.
  6. Wait 3 to 8 weeks for the roots to grow. If rooting in water, transplant the cuttings into pots once ½ inch of roots appear.

Air Layering

Air layering is another propagation technique for pothos plants. This method involves encouraging roots to grow on a part of the plant while it is still attached to the parent plant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a healthy parent plant with a long stem.
  2. Make a small upward cut about halfway through the stem about 1 foot below the tip.
  3. Insert a toothpick or small stick into the cut to keep it open.
  4. Wrap the cut area with moist sphagnum moss.
  5. Secure the moss in place with plastic wrap, ensuring to seal the edges.
  6. Wait for roots to grow in the moss, which can take several weeks.
  7. Once roots have developed, cut the stem below the rooted area.
  8. Plant the newly rooted stem in potting mix or water.

Both propagation techniques can lead to successful growth of new pothos plants. Choose the method that best suits your preferences and resources.

Toxicity and Pet Safety

Golden pothos and pothos plants, though popular and attractive, can pose risks to pets due to their toxicity. Both types of plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause various symptoms when ingested by animals.

When dogs or cats chew on the leaves or stems of these plants, they may experience oral irritation, intense burning of the mouth, tongue, and lips, as well as difficulty swallowing. The presence of these sharp crystals can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, and even breathing difficulties.

Owners should be aware of the potential risks associated with having these plants around their pets. It is essential to take preventive measures, such as placing the plants in hard-to-reach areas or opting for a different, non-toxic plant.

Remember that the severity of symptoms can vary, and some pets might be more sensitive than others. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of a golden pothos or pothos plant, it is crucial to act quickly. Contact your local veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435 for immediate advice.

In conclusion, although golden pothos and pothos plants are lovely additions to any home, pet owners must consider the potential harm they can cause to their furry friends. Be proactive in keeping these plants out of reach and staying aware of the symptoms of ingestion, ensuring the safety of pets.

Common Issues and Pests


Golden pothos and pothos plants can occasionally be affected by diseases, although they are relatively uncommon. Some of the diseases these plants might encounter include Southern Blight and Bacterial Wilt, which can cause parts of the leaves to turn brown and die off. To address these issues, promptly prune affected leaves and stems as soon as they are noticed to prevent the problem from spreading.


In contrast, pothos plants are more susceptible to pests. Some common houseplant pests that may affect these plants include:

  • Spider mites
  • Mealybugs
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies
  • Fungus gnats

To control these pests, you can use both natural and chemical methods with varying effects. For example, you can isolate the infested plant and gently scrub off scales, spider mites, or mealybugs from the stems and leaves. In some cases, using rubbing alcohol to treat affected areas may be helpful.

Proactive measures, such as maintaining proper plant care, can also help prevent pests and diseases from becoming a problem in the first place. Keep your golden pothos or pothos plant healthy by providing adequate light, water, and humidity levels, as well as ensuring good soil drainage to avoid issues like root rot.

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