If you have any houseplant collectors in your life, or happen to be one yourself, you will undoubtedly know all about the famous pothos, and the different pothos varieties. You’ve probably seen one cascading down a bookshelf or decorating the top of a fridge on your Pinterest feed.
This plant features high on the list of must-have indoor plants, especially for beginners, due to its carefree nature and long trailing vines that make anyone look like a pro plant parent. Essentially, once you’ve discovered the wonders of the pothos, there is no going back.
Once you’ve been seduced by this stunning plant, you may find yourself itching to buy another, and another. Luckily for collectors, there are several cultivars sporting different leaf shapes and patterns. Although they look different, they are no less easy to care for, giving their owners little to no trouble.
Before diving into cultivars, it’s important to understand what makes a pothos, a pothos.
As is the trouble with many common plant names, there is some confusion about which plants fall under the name, and which have been assigned it incorrectly. Knowing what kind of plant you’re dealing with is essential in plant care (and bragging rights), so how can you tell which plant is a real pothos and which isn’t?
True pothos fall under the scientific name Epipremnum spp. There are various Epipremnum species, like E. pinnatum, but the species most commonly sporting the pothos name is Epipremnum aureum. The various versions of pothos you see in nurseries are typically cultivars of this Epipremnum species.
The confusion stems from plants that have been given the common name ‘pothos’ despite having a different scientific name, with a bit of horticultural indecisiveness mixed in. The most common mix up is with the Satin Pothos, which looks remarkably similar to some true pothos cultivars but falls under the genus Scindapsus.
To make matters worse, Epipremnum aureum once fell under the Scindapsus genus, but was later changed by horticulturalists to better define the species. The only significant difference between the two plants is that Scindapsus produces one seed while Epipremnums produce many. Such a small distinction to cause chaos over, I know.
Another plant often mislabeled as a pothos is Philodendron hederaceum, also known as the heartleaf philodendron. The only connection between these two plants is looks and growth habit, but with a close eye and some practice, you should be able to tell the two apart quite easily.
Best Pothos Varieties
There are many varieties of Pothos. But which ones are the best for your home? Let’s take a look at our favorite Pothos plants that you need to have around your home in some way.
The Golden Pothos is the original pothos found in every nursery around the globe. Its common name is simply an extension of the scientific name (aureum is Latin for gold).
As the true Epipremnum aureum, it is an absolute must-have for any indoor gardener. It is the most commonly found and most adaptable of all the pothos plants, ideal for beginners or experienced gardeners alike.
Although it is the most common, it is certainly no less good-looking than its cultivars. The heart-shaped leaves feature splashes of creamy and golden yellow in patterns reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting. The vines grow incredibly quickly, trailing around shelves or across tables.
If planted outdoors, this climbing plant will quickly cover entire tree trunks. Under the right growing conditions and in its natural habitats, the leaves grow to a massive three feet and develop slits similar to the ever-popular Monstera deliciousa. In fact, they grow so well that they are considered invasive in some areas, particularly in Florida.
Similar in appearance to the Golden Pothos is the Neon Pothos. However, this cultivar sports bright, lime-colored leaves that appear almost luminescent. While it lacks the variegation that other pothos cultivars are famous for, its monochromatic green look makes it stand out amongst the crowd.
As new leaves emerge, they are a captivating bright color, which darkens slightly over time. To maintain this impressive color, keep your neon pothos in bright light. The less sunlight this cultivar receives, the duller its leaves will appear.
Neon Pothos is ideal for corners of your home that need a bit of brightening. Bathrooms and kitchens are ideal, provided they receive enough light to keep this happy plant glowing green.
For a completely different leaf shape, look no further than the Manjula Pothos. This cultivar is a combination of other popular variegated varieties, producing deep green leaves spotted with white and pale olive.
The leaves of the Manjula Pothos are slightly broader and feature waved edges that distinguish it from any other pothos on the market. It is certainly a statement foliage plant with each leaf sporting a completely different pattern of variegation. The combinations of white, green and yellow are difficult to find on other pothos, let alone other houseplants.
To preserve this special variegation, give your Manjula Pothos plenty of bright light. Areas with less green lack chlorophyll, meaning the plant needs more light than usual to get the energy it needs to survive. If areas of the leaves previously covered in white variegated spots begin to disappear, that is a sign your plant needs more sunlight.
Marble Queen Pothos
A parent of Manjula, the Marble Queen Pothos is one of the most popular variegated varieties and a sought-after collector’s item. As one of the earliest cultivars, it is not difficult to find, or difficult to care for.
The variegation on Marble Queen is similar in pattern to the Golden Pothos. However, its point of difference is the variegation color. This cultivar is covered in bright white spots that blend seamlessly into the green to form a quilt of color. True to the name, the leaves do resemble marbling, especially in highly variegated plants.
The color may differ depending on lighting conditions, giving you an ever-changing plant guaranteed to dazzle. Some leaves may be almost completely white, others completely green, or a healthy mix of the two.
This cultivar is undoubtedly the original ‘Queen’ of the variegated pothos plants.
Cebu Blue Pothos
While part of the same genus, the Cebu Blue is the only cultivar on this list under the species E. pinnatum. You’ll certainly be able to tell, as its leaf color and shape differs greatly from its cousin Epipremnum aureum.
Still growing along trailing vines as all members of this genus do, the Cebu Blue Pothos separates itself from the pack with narrow, pointed leaves in the shape of arrows. Moving away from the typical bright green of the genus, Cebu Blue has a bluish hue over dusty dark green leaves.
Not only do they have a blue tint, but their texture also appears shiny – almost metallic. It is unlike any other pothos, or any other indoor plant for that matter.
If you manage to get your hands on one of these sought-after plants, keep it in a medium-light area to preserve its color and prevent damage to the leaves. Cebu Blue is a fast-growing cultivar, rewarding you with large, impressive leaves if well looked after.
If the monochromatic look is your style, but you tend to shy away from the bright colors of the ‘Neon’ cultivar, the Jade Pothos is your answer. It has solid dark green leaves with a shiny texture similar to other tropical foliage plants grown indoors.
With leaves filled with dark green chlorophyll, Jade is one of the fastest-growing pothos plants around. Alternatively, you can place it in lower light conditions, and it may not grow as quickly, but will fare far better than any of the variegated cultivars.
This cultivar may be harder to find than its neon counterpart, but it is worth the purchase if you can get your hands on one.
Snow Queen Pothos
Lovers of variegation with one Marble Queen in their pocket already will instantly fall in love with the Snow Queen cultivar. It is the most variegated of all the plants on this list, with large white patches covering every leaf.
In certain plants, the leaves appear more white than green, with only a few speckles to indicate that the plant has any green in it at all. It’s no wonder it earned the cultivar name ‘Snow Queen’.
The only downside to this special plant is the extra care needed to keep it healthy and happy. Due to the large white variegation spots, there is far less chlorophyll in these leaves than usual. With less chlorophyll, the plant processes less sunlight and grows far slower.
If you’re looking to keep your Snow Queen for years to come, ensure you place it in a high light area (away from direct sunlight) to avoid stunting its growth.
On the opposite end of the variegation spectrum lies the Jessenia cultivar. Only slightly swaying from its monochromatic neighbors, Jessenia features green shades that are almost indistinguishable. The variegation pattern is therefore subtle, but no less stunning.
Some collectors have likened Jessenia to a toned-down version of its parent plant, the Golden Pothos. The lighter green shade is more muted than the golden yellow of many pothos plants. But don’t let the negative connotations of the word ‘muted’ dissuade you. This light green seamlessly blends into a darker shade, making every leaf with different variegation patterns look a slightly different color from afar.
This beauty is not easy to come by in nurseries or online. Check your local plant swops to get your hands on a cutting of one of the vines instead. It will grow happily in water until the roots have grown enough to be transplanted into its own pot.
The new kid on the block, the N’Joy Pothos was recently introduced to the pothos pool of plants.
Often confused for the Manjula cultivar (or the Pearls & Jade coming up next), N’Joy has large patches of white or cream variegation. However, this cultivar lacks the spotted variegation of its counterparts, typically preferring blocky, solid patterns of contrasting bright white and deep green.
It also differs in size. This cultivar is far more compact, with smaller leaves in dense clusters. It may not grow as large or as quickly, but the standout foliage makes a statement despite its smaller stature. To preserve its gorgeous color, keep the plant in bright, indirect light. The higher the light, the more pronounced the variegation will be.
Pearls & Jade Pothos
Finally, we come to the cultivar that has it all – Pearls & Jade. Its white, cream and green variegation comes spotted and in solid blocks, making each leaf on the plant look completely unique.
And speaking of unique, Pearls & Jade is one of the few cultivars with a white variegation pattern largely sticking to the edges of the leaves, framing the spotted green center. The white also has sections of silvery hues absent from the other cultivars on this list.
Like N’Joy, this compact plant has smaller leaves and a slower growth rate. They are both sports of the Marble Queen cultivar and N’Joy is often mistaken for Pearls & Jade, or vice versa. No matter which you find, you’ll have a stand-out plant with patterns unlike any other houseplant in your home.
Unlike an Iris Virginica or Fiesta Hibiscus, pothos plant care is incredibly undemanding. These plants can survive in a range of conditions, tolerate a bit of neglect from forgetful owners, and continue to grow long vines with little to no maintenance.
While pothos’ prefer bright, indirect sunlight, they will still grow successfully in lower light conditions. This makes them ideal for bathrooms that typically have less sunlight coming through smaller windows. It may not grow as quickly or prolifically as plants in bright light, but it will manage.
When it comes to light, the only thing this plant doesn’t appreciate is direct sun. In their natural habits, Epipremnums snake up trees, making them very comfortable in dappled light outdoors. Keep it in a sunny room away from direct rays to best replicate these conditions and avoid leaf scorch.
Pothos plants appreciate being given time to dry out before another watering and will quickly rot in waterlogged soil. To remove the guesswork of when to water, they come with a handy indicator – once the leaves begin to curl inwards, they need a drink.
They may withstand a range of temperature and humidity conditions, but do best in high humidity spots with temperatures between 60F and 80F. Don’t feel pressured to raise the humidity artificially though, as they will do just fine in dry air as well.
Pruning and fertilizing are not a necessity, but may help you get the best out of your plant. When pruning, keep any cuttings you remove and root them in water to grow even more pothos plants. Fertilize once a season with a liquid fertilizer according to instructions.
Wherever you place your pothos plant, ensure it is out of reach of cats, dogs, and children, as it is highly toxic to people and pets.
When it comes to choosing a pothos cultivar, it’s hard to go wrong. Unless you choose a pothos that isn’t actually a pothos (but hopefully with the confusion cleared up, that won’t be a concern). If you prefer monochromatic plants, Neon or Jade are ideal. Cebu Blue caters to fans of no frills and those looking for a little color with its deep bluish-green hues.
The Golden and Jessenia Pothos have muted variegation patterns, while the standouts of Snow Queen, N’Joy and Pearls & Jade – descendent from Marble Queen – steal the show, no matter where they are placed. But, whether you find one pothos or purchase them all as many collectors have endeavored to do, they will all provide you with long-lasting trails of leaves with little to no fuss. From beginners to plant pros, pothos is a plant for every gardener.