Scindapsus pictus, commonly known as silver satin pothos, is a gorgeous green and silver trailing jungle plant that will make the perfect addition to your houseplant collection! Learn everything you need to know about Scindapsus pictus care, as well as how to propagate it and why it isn’t actually a real pothos.
Scindapsus pictus care: How to care for silver satin pothos
The stunning scindapsus pictus, referred to most commonly as silver satin pothos or silver vine, hails from Southeast Asia. Specifically, it grows wild in Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. “Pictus” actually means “painted,” and the plant got the name because of the silvery painted look on top of leaves with a dull green finish.
Scindapsus vs. pothos: Are they the same thing?!
The scientific name for pothos plants is epipremnum (genus) aureum (species), while the genus and species for this plant are scindapsus and pictus, respectively. Epipremnum and scindapsus are both part of the Araceae family, so that does make these plants closely related, so it makes sense that they are confused as being siblings rather than cousins (or whatever).
Much like heart-leaf philodendron, scindapsus pictus is often confused with pothos plants because of having a similar leaf shape. The three plants all also trail and look lovely from hanging planters or placed high on shelving. So it makes sense to assume that scindapsus pictus is simply a variety of the more common pothos.
Scindapsus pictus varieties
There are three main types of scindapsus pictus that are sold as houseplants in nurseries. They are all typically marketed as “silver satin pothos” or just “satin pothos.” I thought that was the actual name and that it was really a variety of pothos for the longest time!
- Scindapsus pictus argyraeu: This variety has more of a dark green look than the other varieties. On top of the green leaves, there are small silver markings across the leaves. The edges of the leaves are also silver.
- Scindapsus pictus exotica: Exotica has larger leaves with more variegation between green and silver. I love this variety because it has so much more silver on it, and it really does shine!
- Scindapsus pictus silvery Anne: This variety looks a lot like the exotica variety. Honestly, it’s super hard to tell them apart. Silvery Anne has darker green leaves and therefore more of a contrast between the green and the silver markings.
How much light does a silver satin pothos plant need?
Scindapsus pictus plants enjoy bright, indirect light; too much direct light will burn the leaves. I have my mother plant on top of a shelving unit in my bedroom that gets morning sunlight. It also has two small grow lights hanging from the ceiling that are on year round from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Although silver satin pothos plants will tolerate some lower levels of light, it will not be as healthy. This is unlike a lot of real pothos plants, which can do quite well in low-light conditions. For s. Pictus, lower light levels will also decrease the beautiful silver variegation on the leaves and stifle healthy new growth.
Scindapsus pictus care: Water and soil needs
The worst thing you can do to this plant is over water it. For that reason, it’s best to plant it in a pot that has a drainage hole. (Disclaimer: I had mine in a pot without a drainage hole for over a year and it was fine. I was just super careful not to overwater.)
And use well-draining potting soil to avoid the soil retaining too much water. Any good indoor potting soil mix will work wonderfully. But if you’d like to amend soil to make your own, check out my DIY succulent soil recipe—just replace the sand with peat moss, and go a bit heavier on the peat moss!
To avoid overwatering your plant, wait until the top few inches of soil are dry. In the spring and summer, this means watering more frequently. In the winter, this could mean only about once a month. Despite the dry indoor air, the plant isn’t actively growing.
Temperature and humidity requirements
Scindapsus pictus enjoys all regular household temperatures. That means anything between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, it comes from a tropical environment, so it does not like the cold at all. Its tropical beginnings also mean it likes humidity! Humidity is an important part of scindapsus pictus care
Higher humidity levels can be tough to achieve for some indoor plants. Grouping plants with other plants helps to keep humidity levels a bit higher if you don’t want to regularly use a humidifier. You could also add a tray with pebbles and water to increase humidity or mist your plants every day or so with water, which is what I do.
How long will my silver satin pothos grow?
In its natural habitation, silver satin pothos climbs up other plants and trees. As a houseplant, it can be trained to climb, or you could vine its stems along a wall using small nails or command hooks. I like to trail mine off the side of a shelf.
When this plant is happy and healthy, the stems can grow to over 3 feet long. I love long vining plants, and I’ve only cut mine when there were some yucky-looking leaves or when I wanted snipping to propagate!
To encourage more growth, give your plant a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer roughly once a month. (Note: If you’ve recently repotted, make sure your soil didn’t have a slow-release fertilizer in it. You don’t want to over-fertilize!)
Repotting, pruning, and propagating
Speaking from my own experience, this plant is a pretty fast grower. It can be repotted every 1–2 years to a pot a few inches larger. If you’d like to control the plant’s size, you can take the plant out of its pot, trim the roots, and replant with fresh potting soil. The best time to repot is in the spring or early summer.
This is a very low-maintenance plant in terms of pruning. It doesn’t really need any pruning, but you can skip the stems to control its size. Pruning the stems can also help give the plant a fuller look because it will encourage stem growth out—the plant won’t grow new growth from the area you cut.
If you decide to prune your scindapsus pictus, you can try your hand at propagating it. Much like pothos plants and heart-leaf philodendron, this is a very easy plant to propagate. In fact, you can propagate scindapsus pictus stem cuttings in water exactly the same way you propagate pothos cuttings in water.
You can also propagate scindapsus pictus cuttings directly in soil. It’s best to use a peat-based soil and keep it moist for a few weeks. Whichever propagation method you choose, new roots should develop in about a month. I like to let them get nice and long before planting, and I typically always prefer water propagation so I can monitor root growth!
Scindapsus pictus care: What’s wrong with my plant?
This is a fairly resilient plant, so it doesn’t have too many problems. Some of the problems are caused by user error, while some are just normal houseplant issues. Here are a few things to look out for.
1. Yellow, sad-looking leaves
If your scindapsus pictus has yellow, droopy, generally sad-looking leaves, it’s likely a sign of overwatering. Check to make sure you are letting the soil dry out enough between watering. If your watering schedule is fine, you might need a soil that has better drainage, or you might need to use a pot with a drainage hole.
Pots without drainage holes and overwatering are a surefire way to kill a scindapsus pictus plant. Overwatering eventually leads to root rot, but an early sign of overwatering is yellow droopy leaves. So take this sign seriously—it’s not too late to fix it!
2. Leaves with brown crispy tips
If the borders or tips of your plant’s leaves are brown, the plant probably is too dry. That doesn’t mean water it more, though. It probably means that the air is too dry and that you need to increase humidity.
My scindapsus pictus was near a heat register this past winter, and I did notice some of the leaves right above the heat register browning and curling. I snipped them off, moved the trailing stem, and started misting the plant daily. It helped a lot.
3. Leaves and stems turning black and dying
This is probably a late-stage sign of root rot. You’re overwatering—cut it out! Make sure you’re watering only when the top few inches of soil dries out, you’ve planted your plant in a well-draining potting soil, and your pot has a drainage hole. Cut away dead growth.
4. Leaves or stems have dusty-looking webs on it
SPIDER MITES! I hate these things! They have destroyed two of my elephant ear plants when indoors. Spider mites are tiny insects that suck the life out of your plant. They can do some serious damage. If you see webbing, it might be too late to save the affected foliage.
Spider mites flourish in hot, dry conditions, so keeping humidity high helps a lot. If you think your plant is infested with spider mites, check out my post on how to get rid of a spider mite infestation on a houseplant.
5. Sappy residue on or under the plant
It’s scale, another houseplant pest. These are tiny insects that also suck the life out of your plants. They often leave a sticky residue on the leaves and right under the plant. If you’ve ever had an umbrella plant, they are especially vulnerable to scale. Battle off a scale infestation using insecticidal spray.
6. Satin pothos leaves curling
When the thick, gorgeous leaves of the satin pothos plant start curling in, they probably need more water. (I know, I’ve spent this entire post telling you not to water enough. I know.) The appropriate amount of water is sometimes difficult to figure out, but with a little trial and error, you can!
Is scindapsus pictus toxic to people or pets?
Like a lot of houseplants, scindapsus pictus contains calcium oxalate crystals. Do not ingest any part of the plant. This goes for cats and dogs, too. Luckily it looks great hanging high up out of reach!
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