Jade Pothos vs. Golden Pothos: What’s The Difference?
Want to tell the difference between a Jade Pothos and a Golden Pothos? These plants are incredibly similar in almost every way. However, some differences in leaf color will have you telling them apart in no time. Houseplant expert Madison Moulton discusses these two members of the ever-popular Pothos group.
There are few houseplants more well-known than the Pothos. They are beginner-friendly, easy to care for and brighten up any area you place them in. There are many different pothos cultivars to choose from, making them a fantastic collector’s plant.
Two of those Pothos types are the Golden Pothos and the Jade Pothos. They are often difficult to distinguish due to their remarkable similarity. However, there are some differences in color that allow you to quickly tell them apart.
If you are considering adopting either one of these two popular houseplants, it’s important to understand what their needs are. The good news is that because these two are so closely related, there are not many differences when it comes to their care. Let’s dive in and compare these two famous houseplants and see which one is right for your indoor garden space!
Jade Pothos vs. Golden Pothos Comparison Chart
|Specification||Jade Pothos||Golden Pothos|
Epipremnum aureum ‘Jade’
Central and South America
Bright, Indirect Light
Central and South America
Green With Yellow Variegation
Bright, Indirect Light
Slightly Low-light Tolerant
When looking at these two plants and comparing their characteristics, most of their differences come in the way that they look. They both have some unusual nicknames, and they share many similarities when it comes to their overall look and growth rates. Let’s explore a little further.
All Pothos plants are botanically known as Epipremnum aureum. They also have many common names, including Devil’s Ivy as they are almost impossible to kill, and Money Plant in some regions due to the belief that they bring good luck and prosperity.
Golden Pothos is the original Pothos species, simply known as Epipremnum aureum. The specific epithet ‘aureum’ gives this clue away, as it refers to gold in botanical Latin.
Jade Pothos, like all other true Pothos species, is also known as Epipremnum aureum. However, this variety is a cultivar called ‘Jade’, making the full name Epipremnum aureum ‘Jade’. This plant is a naturally occurring mutation of the original Pothos, as are other sports like Marble Queen or N’Joy.
Both plants are closely related to other plants in the Epipremnum genus, including Epipremnum pinnatum with their interesting split leaves. They fall under the Arum family, Araceae, related to Monsteras and Anthuriums.
Pothos are often confused for another member of the Arum family, Philodendrons. They look most similar to the Heartleaf Philodendron – Philodendron hederaceum. The Jade Pothos is more often mistaken for Philodendron hederaceum due to the solid color of the leaves. But, although they look very similar, they are completely different plants.
Pothos are native to the islands of French Polynesia. But, this rapidly spreading vine has become naturalized across the world, including Asia, Australia, and South Africa.
These plants are found in tropical and subtropical forests. Their ability to grow aerial roots means they are often found climbing tree trunks. Alternatively, you may spot them crawling along the soil surface as a ground cover.
In the wild, the Pothos looks quite different from the plant we have come to know indoors. The leaves are far larger – up to 20 inches long – with slits along the sides similar to the popular Monstera. They can also flower in perfect conditions, but don’t often do so. This is why Pothos cultivars are mutated, not hybridized.
As the original Pothos, the Golden Pothos is quite common. If you come across any Pothos type in your local nursery, it is probably this one. Known as the perfect beginner-friendly plant, almost all houseplant lovers started with at least one Pothos before expanding their collection.
Jade Pothos is not as common but is still widely available. They may be slightly more costly, but they are not new cultivars, nor are they rare. Due to a mix-up of common names, they can be confused for the new ‘Pearls and Jade’ Pothos, which is rarer and harder to find than these two types.
While collectors often search for the Jade Pothos to complete their Pothos collection, the Golden Pothos is typically more popular. Epipremnum aureum is known for interesting variegation, so the non-variegated Jade is not as sought-after.
When it comes to appearances, both of these plants have similarly shaped leaves. But their differences primarily comes with changes to their color. Let’s take a look at the appearance differences that set these two apart.
Color is the easiest way to tell these two Pothos types apart. The Golden Pothos, true to its name, has flecks of gold spread across the leaves. They are typically a medium to bright green, with dashed stripes of yellowy-green. They are more often confused with a Marble pothos, or other pothos varieties with more leaf variegation.
The density of this pattern varies per leaf and per plant. In higher lighting conditions, the patches of yellow-gold variegation can intensify to cover most of the leaf. In lower lighting conditions, less variegation will occur, leaving the leaves mostly green.
Jade Pothos looks almost exactly the same as the Golden Pothos, but with no variegation. The leaves are a solid green color and look like a Pothos left in low lighting conditions with no golden flecks in the foliage. The green tone is very similar, darkening when the plant is in brighter lighting conditions.
In both plants, new growth starts out a bright yellowy-green, darkening to a medium green as the plant matures. In the Golden Pothos, new leaves develop spotted variegation early, while the Jade Pothos stays a solid bright green.
Both plants have a similar leaf shape. Each leaf is a gentle heart shape, with a rounded base and pointed tip. The rounded base is slightly wider in the Jade Pothos than the Golden Pothos, but this can also vary from plant to plant.
The leaves are waxy on both types, with a slight texture thanks to the veins in the leaves. This is also an easy way to tell a Pothos and Philodendron apart, as the Philodendron foliage is much smoother with a glossy sheen.
Growth Rate and Size
When compared to other houseplants, Pothos are incredibly quick growers. This remains true for both of these plants.
Golden Pothos is one of the fastest-growing Pothos you can buy. The stems can grow between 12-18 inches each month during the growing seasons of spring and summer. In their natural habitats, they can grow several feet long, especially when given something to climb.
Thanks to the lack of variegation, Jade Pothos grows at a similar rate and to a similar size. Variegated plants typically have slower growth due to the lower levels of chlorophyll in the leaves. As these plants have no variegation, they grow quickly indoors, especially when placed in optimal conditions.
Expect your Jade pothos to grow around 15-18 inches per month, with vines a few feet long if left unpruned.
Most Pothos types are considered easy to care for and beginner-friendly. Golden and Jade Pothos are two of the most low-maintenance Pothos types, with the same care requirements due to their close relation.
Pothos plants are known to tolerate low lighting conditions. However, they prefer bright indirect light as this closely matches what they receive in their natural habitats. A spot in front of an east-facing window is best as they can handle an hour or two of some gentle morning sun, preferring bright indirect light for the rest of the day.
Jade Pothos is better suited to lower light areas than the Golden Pothos. Both handle low lighting conditions well, but Golden Pothos will start to lose their golden flecks if left without sunlight for long periods.
When variegated plants don’t receive enough sunlight, they start to produce more chlorophyll to maintain growth. This chlorophyll spills into the variegated sections and can turn whole leaves green again, looking remarkably similar to a regular Jade Pothos.
As there is no variegation, Jade Pothos is ideal for spots with lower light. The green may become slightly duller, but they will still look just as happy as the day you bought them.
Both of these varieties cannot handle long periods of harsh direct sunlight. Spots in front of a west- or south-facing window without protection can cause the leaves to burn, producing brown spots in the parts of the plant facing the light source. The leaves may also curl inwards to reduce surface area and retain moisture in the plant’s attempt to survive.
If either Pothos shows these signs, move them to a spot with bright indirect sunlight or protect them by covering the window with a sheer curtain.
Pothos plants are not majorly thirsty. While they enjoy moist soil, they prefer the soil to dry out slightly indoors due to lower evaporation rates. They are also adaptable, handling a missed watering quite well.
The waxy leaves and stems hold quite a bit of water, maintaining the plant for several days if you tend to underwater. If left without water for too long, the leaves will start to wilt and curl due to the lack of moisture. The ends can also start to turn brown and crispy if the lack of water is severe.
It’s best to water both plants as soon as the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. Test the soil with your finger every few days or place a skewer in the soil. If it comes out dry, your plant needs to be watered.
Like many other houseplants, there is a great risk of overwatering both Pothos types. They do not like to be left sitting in water for long periods. If overwatered, the roots will begin to rot, unable to transport water and nutrients around the plant. Always test the soil before watering rather than watering on a schedule to prevent overwatering.
Golden Pothos and Jade Pothos require the same soil as most other houseplants – light and well-draining. As water evaporates slower indoors, regular potting or garden soil generally does not drain well enough to prevent root rot.
The best soil for Pothos plants is a combination of materials that retain enough moisture to keep the plant happy while draining well enough to prevent root rot and deliver oxygen to the roots. Specialized houseplant soil mixes will have the right properties, but you can also mix your own to create the perfect conditions for your Pothos plants.
Try combining two parts potting soil with one part perlite and one part coconut coir. The perlite – the small white rocks you often see in commercial potting soils – increases the space between soil particles, improving drainage and aeration. The coconut coir, a sustainable alternative to peat moss, retains up to ten times its own weight in water and lightens the soil mixture.
Temperature and Humidity
All variations of Pothos have the same temperature and humidity requirements as they are all descendants of Epipremnum aureum native to the tropical jungles of the Americas.
In tropical rainforests, temperatures rarely dip below 65F. They also don’t reach much higher than 90F for most of the year, hovering around 85F. This gives an indication of the temperature range Pothos plants prefer. Due to their waxy leaves, they can handle heat quite well, but will grow best between 65F and 85F.
Not fans of cold weather, they will typically stop growing below 60F. Below 50F, they can face serious damage, with parts of the plants exposed to the cold turning brown or black and dying off. Always keep your Pothos protected from the cold and don’t leave them near open windows in winter.
Golden Pothos and Jade Pothos appreciate high humidity levels. A range between 60% and 70% is preferred as this closely matches their rainforest conditions. However, these adaptable plants should be happy in any humidity above 40%.
If the humidity is too low, the leaves may start to turn brown and crispy at the edges. Raise the humidity by placing your plant near a humidifier. This allows you to meticulously control the humidity levels and keep your Pothos in the perfect conditions.
For either Pothos to grow to their full potential, they will benefit from occasional fertilizing. For the first few months after purchase, the fertilizer in the soil should satisfy the plant. But once those nutrients are depleted, your Golden or Jade Pothos will need a top-up.
Fertilize around once a month in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer. This will give the plant all the nutrients it needs for successful growth, producing long stems and lush leaves.
Alternatively, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer once per season. These will break down over time whenever you water, slowly adding nutrients to the soil.
Make sure you read the instructions on the packaging before you get started. Pothos are sensitive to overfertilizing and can drop leaves if given excessive nutrients. Dilute in the provided ratios when using a liquid fertilizer, or apply at half strength if the plants are already growing well.
Due to their similar looks and growth habits, both cultivars are used in similar ways. Most often, they are planted in hanging baskets or placed along shelves, leaving the long stems to trail down.
Their ability to climb makes them great for attaching to moss poles or training along trellises. When trained correctly and grown in the right conditions, the lush foliage can form a living wall feature or even create a green privacy screen in your home.
The Golden Pothos also featured as part of the famous NASA Clean Air study and was found to remove several harmful chemicals from the air in our homes.
While the results of this study have been ‘debunked’ in the sense that you would need a few hundred Pothos plants inside to have the same effect, that’s just a great excuse to purchase or propagate even more of these popular houseplants.
Closely related, Golden Pothos and Jade Pothos are incredibly similar plants. With some differences in color, you can easily tell them apart, but their care requirements remain the same. They both make great plants for beginners or wonderful additions to your budding Pothos collection.