Learn all about caring for scindapsus pictus, commonly known as silver satin pothos.
How to care for the stunning silver scindapsus pictus
Today we’re talking about one of my favorites—scindapsus pictus. I know I say a lot of plants are my favorite plants, but this one is consistently in my top five. I love 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 jade-green leaves.
- Scindapsus pictus care overview
- Scindapsus vs. pothos
- Common scindapsus pictus varieties
- How much light does it need?
- How often should I water it?
- What is the best soil?
- Temperature & humidity needs
- Growth rate & repotting
- Pruning and propagating
- Propagating in water
- Propagating in sphagnum moss
- Is scindapsus pictus toxic?
Scindapsus pictus care overview
- Scindapsus pictus (also known as silver satin pothos) has distinctive green and silver leaves.
- Common varieties include argyraeus, exotica, silvery Anne, silver splash, and more.
- Thrives in bright, indirect light and well-draining soil.
- Water when the top several inches of soil dries out; over overwatering.
- Does fine in regular household temperatures and humidit but appreciates extra humidity.
- Propagate through stem cuttings.
- Mildly toxic; should not be ingested.
Scindapsus vs. pothos
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.
Common scindapsus pictus varieties
There are two main types of scindapsus pictus that are sold as houseplants in nurseries—argyraeus and exotica. But there are other relatively common types of scindapsus pictus that I’ll outline below with some ID photos.
1. 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.
2. 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!
3. 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.
4. 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!
5. Scindapsus pictus silver lady, silver splash, and silver hero
These are less common varieties, but I have to spotlight them because they are gorgeous. 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.
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 scindapsus pictus silver hero is a gorgeous nearly all-silver plant with just a bit of green. Absolutely stunning—in my experience, very slow growing, too. Worth the wait, though!
Want more? See my article 9 Scindapsus Varieties to Collect!
How much light does it 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 it?
The worst thing you can do to this plant is over water it. I recommend watering your scindapsus pictus once the top several inches of soil have dried out. Don’t let the soil dry out completely, and plant in a pot with a drainage hole.
When the leaves start curling in—and if the soil is dry—they may need more water. 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. When I water them, I try to do so in the shower or sink, too, so I can soak the soil and clean off all of the foliage.
What is the best soil?
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 & humidity needs
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, and the best way to do so is by using a humidifier in an enclosed space. If the borders or tips of your plant’s leaves are brown, the air probably is too dry.
Growth rate & repotting
In its natural habitat, scindapsus pictus varieties climb other plants and trees. As a houseplant, it can be trained to climb a pole, or you can grow it in a trailing basket. Its stems can reach over 3 feet long. To encourage more growth, give your plant a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer.
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.
Several years ago I acquired a very full scindapsus pictus exotica from a friend who got it at a grocery store. Some of the leaves were also a bit yellow, and I thought it might be rootbound based on the plant’s size.
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. I had to show someone! I hacked at these roots to loosen them up, which broke a decent amount off. That’s okay. The pic below on the right is 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. It doesn’t really need any pruning, but you can snip 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 generally 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.
Propagating 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.
The first photo 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 “nubs” 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 they did rebound. Once I started watering normally and got this guy in a sunny spot, he started to really take root in the soil, perk up, and give me new growth.
Propagating in sphagnum 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 guide all about how to root plants in sphagnum moss.)
Instead of putting a cutting in water, with this method, you put it in a mixture of damp saphgnum moss and perlite. You can put a plastic baggie over the cutting or add it to a Plant Propagation Box, which is easy to make!
For more on scindapsus propagation, see my full Scindapsus Pictus Propagation Guide for detailed instructions and photos!
Troubleshooting yellow leaves
If your scindapsus pictus has yellow, droopy, generally sad-looking leaves and the soil has been consistently wet, 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.
If your plant has soil on the drier side and the yellowing leaves are the oldest leaves near the soil line, the yellowing is likely a result of underwatering. Give the plant a deep drink in the sink or shower, and it should rebound.
Keep in mind, though, that yellowing leaves will not turn back into green leaves. You can pluck them off, adjust your care routine, and focus on the plant’s new growth.
Is scindapsus pictus toxic?
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!
Scindapsus remains a favorite plant genus of mine, and scindapsus pictus exotica definitely tops the list, too. Its foliage is absolutely stunning—a jade green with striking silver variegation. And it’s not a difficult plant to care for as long as you give it enough bright, indirect light and appropriate water.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Scindapsus pictus or any tips you’ve discovered along the way. Share your stories in the comments below, and in the meantime, happy planting!