Satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus), just like its botanical cousin pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Both are members of the Arum family. They are evergreen tropical vines that are not cold-tolerant. That’s why pothos is usually grown indoors.
What distinguishes satin pothos from pothos is the variegation of its foliage. The heart-shaped leaves have silvery grey splotches, which makes them look almost shiny and adds to the visual appeal of the plant. The intensity of the variegation depends on the cultivar.
Satin pothos is a vine that will latch onto its surroundings—that can be a pole, a trellis, other plants, a wall, or a piece of furniture. The way the vine attaches to surfaces is through its aerial roots. Sometimes it does this on its own, sometimes it needs a little help, such as with invisible mini hooks. Instead of letting it trail, you can also grow satin pothos in a hanging planter allowing its foliage to cascade down.
|Botanical Name||Scindapsus pictus|
|Common Name||Satin pothos, silk pothos, silver pothos, silver philodendron|
|Plant Type||Perennial vine|
|Mature Size||Four to ten feet length|
|Sun Exposure||Bright indirect light indoors|
|Soil Type||Potting soil mix|
|Soil pH||6.1 to 6.5|
|Hardiness Zones||10-12, USA|
|Native Area||Southeast Asia|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and animals|
Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus) Care
Satin pothos is a low-maintenance houseplant. In addition to the routine care of watering and fertilizing, an extra step you can take to improve its appearance is snipping off any damaged or dead leaves and pruning when the vines are growing too long and becoming sparse. Cutting back the plant will encourage new leaf growth and make it fuller. Pruning is best done in the spring when the growing season starts.
If your satin pothos accumulates dust, you can wash the leaves with water. Don’t use oil to make them shine, as it can clog the cells and affect the leaves’ ability to breathe.
Satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus) needs bright light but it must be indirect. When exposed to full direct sun, its leaves will lose their variegation and get scorched.
If you place the plant near a window with direct sunlight, it will require a curtain to protect it from direct sunlight.
Use a commercial indoor potting mix, which already contains nutrients and ensures good drainage through its combination of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite or vermiculite. Scindapsus pictus does poorly in wet, soggy soil.
When watering satin pothos, the key is to avoid overwatering, which will manifest itself by yellow leaves and the vine wilting.
Water only when the top two inches of the soil feel dry to the touch—poke your finger into the soil to check. Water slowly and deeply with room-temperature water until you see water seeping out of the drain holes.
Temperature and Humidity
Satin pothos is a tropical plant, which means it needs warmth and humidity. The ideal growth temperature ranges from 65 to 85 degrees F. At a lower temperature, it will suffer cold damage and die. In dry air, the leaf tips can turn brown.
40 to 50% relative humidity around your plant is ideal. You can increase the humidity by placing the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water, but in a way that the roots are not exposed to the water.
Misting Scindapsus pictus to increase humidity is not recommended because the aerial roots also absorb moisture so it might result in overwatering.
During the growing season, from spring to fall, fertilize the satin pothos about once a month with a complete, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.
Is Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus) Toxic?
The plant is considered mildly toxic for humans, cats, and dogs when ingested. Both the stem and leaves contain calcium oxalates which can irritate the skin, mouth, and throat.
Varieties of Satin Pothos
Popular varieties include:
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Silvery Ann(e)’: a cultivar with light green, highly variegated heart-shaped leaves.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’: has smaller, dark green leaves. The variegation has more defined, less splotchy, and evenly dispersed silvery markings. The leaves also have silvery edges. The cultivar was named after its silvery variegation—'Argyraeus’ means “silvery”. Because the leaves are dark, the contrast between the leaves and the variegation is more striking in this variety.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’: has larger, dark green, lance-shaped leaves with large silver splotches.
Potting and Repotting
If you see roots emerging from the drainage holes of the pot, it’s time for repotting. Depending on how fast your Scindapsus pictus grows, this might be necessary every year or two years.
Repotting should be done when the growing season starts. Select a pot about one to two inches larger than the current pot and fill it with a fresh indoor potting soil mix. Commercial mixes usually contain enough fertilizer for several months so take that into consideration when feeding the plant.
Propagating Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus)
In the spring or early summer, take four-inch tip cuttings from a healthy plant. Place them in a four-inch pot filled with fresh indoor potting soil mix and good drainage. Keep the soil evenly moist and in the same indirect light location as the mother plant. After about a month, new growth should indicate that the plant has rooted, and you can switch to a more infrequent watering schedule.
Satin pothos is mostly free of pests and diseases but might be attacked by scales or spider mites, which can be simply washed off. Don’t forget to also rinse the underside of the leaves. Or, if there is a significant infestation, apply insecticidal soap or horticultural oil that is labeled for use on indoor plants.
If satin pothos receives too much water, it can develop root rot.