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
Today we’re talking about one of my favorite trailing plants—the scindapsus pictus. I know I say a lot of plants are my favorite plants, but this one is consistently in my top five. I have a thing for gorgeous silver leaves! And trailers. And this one is *chef’s kiss.*
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?!
When I first got started on my scindapsus pictus care journey, I thought they were. But they aren’t. 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 related. It makes sense that they are confused as being siblings rather than cousins (or whatever).
However, the Araceae family is super big, like thousands of different members in it, so it’s not totally surprising that they are both in this family. It’s a very popular family for houseplants to be in—gorgeous and well-adapted to live inside homes.
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. But it isn’t. 🙂
Scindapsus pictus care and varieties
There are two main types of scindapsus pictus that are sold as houseplants in nurseries—argyraeus and exotica. 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 because of this.
Scindapsus pictus argyraeus
The argyraeus variety has more of a dark green look than the other varieties. Its leaves are generally on the smaller side, and on top of the green leaves, there are small silver markings. The borders of the leaves are also silver. This is likely the version you’ll encounter at big box stores and local nurseries. I’ve even seen it popping up at grocery stores.
Scindapsus pictus silvery Anne
This variety looks a lot like the argyraeus variety. Honestly, it’s super hard for me to tell them apart. Silvery Anne has darker green leaves and therefore more of a contrast between the green and the silver markings. Some of the leaves can be almost all green, while others can look nearly “dipped” in silver.
Scindapsus pictus jade satin
This variety is sometimes confused with regular ol’ jade pothos, but it is was more rare. The leaves are thicker—much thicker—than pothos leaves. They don’t have silver like the other pictus varieties, but they do have a cool texture. Here’s a pic of a single scindapsus pictus jade satin I have that I am rooting. It’s expensive, so I had to settle for a single busted/crispy leaf and node trade! Roots are coming along nicely, though!
Scindapsus pictus exotica
Exotica is my favorite variety because of how large the leaves get and how silver it can look! It has larger leaves with more variegation between green and silver. Some of my leaves have almost no green, it’s pretty wild. This variety is becoming pretty easy to find at local nurseries, and I’ve even seen it pop up at local big box garden centers!
Scindapsus pictus silver lady, silver splash, and platinum/silver hero
I do not have either of these varieties yet, so you’ll have to settle for this lovely rendering. Silver lady looks a lot like exotica, but its leaves are much thinner, and it has less of a contrast between the green and silver. This variety is really rare, as is the silver splash.
The silver splash is high on my wish list. Scindapsus pictus silver splash has a “pixelated” silver look. It reminds me of the newer military uniformed with the block camouflage. They have a lot of silver on the leaves, and the silver almost fades into the green. (The drawing linked above also has silver splash depicted.)
The scindapsus pictus platinum/silver hero is a gorgeous nearly all-silver plant with just a bit of green. Honestly, this plant is so rare that it isn’t even on my wish list. Because even if I found it, I know I would be able to afford it lol.
Want more scindapsus? Check out my post about how to root and propagate scindapsus treubii moonlight and dark form!
How much light does a scindapsus pictus plant need?
Light is a critical part of scindapsus pictus care. Scindapsus pictus plants enjoy bright, indirect light; too much direct light will burn the leaves. I have one of my big exoticas 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 scindapsus pictus, lower light levels will also decrease the beautiful silver variegation on the leaves and stifle healthy new growth.
How often should I water silver satin pothos?
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. However, now that it’s in a pot with drainage, I can give it a nice shower in my actual shower when I water it!
Scindapsus pictus soil needs
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 coco coir or fine moss!
For the most recent large scindapsus pictus I acquired, I decided to try a new soil mix. I made a mix of high-quality indoor potting soil (can’t remember the brand, but it wasn’t the big box store stuff), peat moss, a bit more perlite even though there was already some in the soil mix, and chunky orchid bark. Hoping it’s happy in this mix!
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. Monitor the leaves for curling and wilting that could signify you’ve gone a hair too long without giving it water.
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 scindapsus pictus grow?
In its natural habitat, scindapsus pictus varieties climb 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 a 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 as it could burn the plant.)
Repotting your scindapsus
Speaking from my own experience, this plant is a pretty fast grower. It can start slow, but like all houseplants, it really gets going if it’s happy. Scindapsus pictus 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.
However, I recently acquired a really gorgeous and very full scindapsus pictus exotica locally. And I could tell that it was rootbound. This thing was SO full, and the plastic pot was pretty hard. Some of the leaves were also a bit yellow, and since the watering seemed ok, I thought it might be deprived of nutrients (which can sometimes happen when a plant is rootbound and desperately needs repotted).
I actually gasped when I took this guy out of the plastic growers pot. My husband isn’t even into plants and I had to show him, lol. I had to show someone! I basically hacked at these roots to loosen them up, which broke a decent amount off. That’s okay. The pics after the first one are the plant happily repotted with fresh soil in a hanging basket.
Pruning and propagating
This is a very low-maintenance plant in terms of pruning, and that’s one of the things that makes scindapsus pictus care so appealing. 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.
I also general prune off the “runner” stems, which are just long stems with no leaves. They can make the plant look a little stringy and lanky, but they are often full of nodes that you can use to root the plant and grow more!
On that note, 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.
Rooting scindapsus pictus cuttings in water
However, scindapsus pictus does have a bit of a “rebound” period adjusting roots that were grown in water to roots that function in soil. That’s because water roots are different from soil roots. (Have you ever wondered why plant cuttings can live in water but they will die if you overwater them in soil? This is way!)
The first two photos below are an example of a few exotica cuttings that I had rooting in water for several months. When I took these cuttings, I just made sure there was a node or two on each cutting. The nodes are the small brown bumps or “nubbs” on the stems. The third photo is a few weeks after I’d planted the cuttings.
The cuttings did wilt and curl for a bit, but I withheld water for a few weeks. Once I started watering normally again and got this guy in a sunny spot, he started to take root in the soil, perk up, and give me new growth.
Propagating scindapsus pictus silver satin pothos in spahgnum moss
You can also propagate scindapsus pictus in moss. There is a less of a shock when transitioning the newly rooted cuttings to soil because the roots are a bit stronger. I like to root them in a mix of sphagnum moss and perlite in my Ikea greenhouse cabinet where the humidity is a bit higher. Just make sure the moss doesn’t dry out. (See my post all about how to root plants in sphagnum moss.)
Here is an example of a runner I chopped up from my plant. See all of those nodes? That’s all you need to root these bad boys. They might not look like much now, but they will take root and grow you a beautiful new plant. The second pic is of them chillin in some moist moss with some philodendron micans cuttings.
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. I don’t love soil propagation because I have a hard time keeping the moisture level right, and I don’t love not being able to see the root development. Whichever propagation method you choose, new roots should develop in about a month.
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. Why are my scindapsus pictus leaves curling?
When the thick, gorgeous leaves of the satin pothos plant start curling in, they probably need more water if they otherwise look healthy. (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!
I find that my pictus plants are happy with water every 7-10 days in the growing season and every 2-3 weeks in the winter depending on the soil, pot, and temps. I am planning to move one of my plants outdoors this spring, so I am excited to see how it does with the humid Maryland summers.
2. Scindapsus pictus exotica with yellow 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!
Below is a pic of a yellow exotica leaf I lost a few months ago. But don’t freak out if you get some yellow leaves—it’s normal for plants to lose leaves throughout their life. Pretty sure this one was a sign of overwatering, though. I snipped these off, backed off the watering, and the plant didn’t throw any more fits.
3. Brown crispy tips on scindapsus pictus leaves
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.
4. Scindapsus pictus root rot: Leaves and stems turning black or dark brown and dying
If your scindapsus pictus plant has leaves that are turning black or dark brown and dying, this is probably a late-stage sign of root rot. You’re overwatering—cut it out! The yellow leaves should have been a sign! 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.
So lets try to save your plant! I saved a gross, ugly, gnat-infested scindapsus pictus argy from near-certain death at a local grocery store. I couldn’t help it. He was so sad! I’m really kicking myself for not taking photos of this process, but here’s what I did.
- Remove the plant from the pot and try to remove as much of the soil as you can. If you need to, run the roots under a bit of water to clean them off further. Snip off ugly leaves.
- Look for black, brown, or gray mushy parts on the roots. Snip those off without hesitation—it’s rot!
- Pop the plant in a sphagnum moss and perlite mixture and keep in high humidity until the plant rebounds. If you’d like to add a bit of rooting hormone powder first, you can. You can also plant directly in soil—I just like moss and perlite for rehabs like this.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Is scindapsus pictus toxic to people or pets?
Scindapsus pictus care isn’t hard, but is this plant toxic? 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!