Satin pothos or Scindapsus pictus is a variegated evergreen climber plant native to the South and Southeast and can grow 10 feet tall outdoors. The word “pictus” in the scientific name means painted, referring to the variegation of silver splotches on the dark green heart-shaped leaves.
It is as easy to grow as its relative, golden pothos and this striking tropical plant is a fairly new introduction to the plethora of ornamental plants and is attracting plenty of attention.
This plant comes in three different varieties – Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’ with little silver variegation, Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’ with heavier variegation looking like silver splashes of paint, and Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Ann’ with silver pothos leaves.
Vines can grow as long as 3 feet indoors but can be made to grow bushier by pruning if you prefer it to be smaller. Its dense growth makes the satin pothos a beautiful plant to be grown in a hanging pot or basket or growing on moss poles.
These plants need plenty of indirect, bright sunlight to properly thrive and boost faster growth. Avoid direct sunlight as leaves will get burned. It also can be grown in a low-lit environment, however, the vines will be thin and leggy and look shabby. Insufficient light might cause the silver variegation to fade and the green color takes over.
It should be watered twice weekly in the warmer months and less in winter. Do not over-water the plant. How often it should be watered depends on factors such as the temperature, the type of pot (clay pots tend to evaporate faster than plastic or ceramic pots), and the type of soil. The safest option is to water until the water drains out and allow the topsoil to become dry before water again.
An average humidity of 40% promotes fast growth. Mist the plant regularly to boost the humidity surrounding it. Placing a bowl of water near the pot will also help boost humidity levels.
It prefers a temperature range of 65°F – 85°F and a minimum of 59 °F.
Silver pothos is not a fast grower and doesn’t require a lot of feeding. Feed it once a month in spring and summer with diluted all-purpose fertilizer. Don’t feed during winter, resuming in spring when the growing season starts again. The correct amount of fertilizer will help keep its beautiful leaves healthy and effervescent. Keep in mind that over-fertilization can cause damage to the plant.
The satin pothos needs to grow in well-drained soil. The best type of soil must have an organic matter to retain moisture yet allow water to drain freely. The growth of the plant will slow down if the soil becomes soggy and water-logged.
The best way to test the soil is to water it deeply. If it takes time to drain or lingers on the surface, you should add perlite to help aerate the soil. In contrast, if the soil drains too fast meaning it has to be watered more often, add more peat moss.
It’s best to repot the plant every year in spring. Your plant will grow faster in fresh, new soil and will give the roots more space to grow. Poor water drainage, roots appearing underneath the pot and slow growth are indications that it’s time to repot the plant.
A larger container should be made ready. Ease the plant from the present pot, without damaging the stems or roots and shake or wash off excess soil. Examine the roots for rot or damage and trim off old roots as necessary. The larger pot should be filled with soil until it’s half full, insert the plant, top up with soil, and water it well.
If you like to use a decorative container with no drainage holes, put a layer of pebbles at least an inch high in the bottom of the container to keep the pot above the water that drains out. Make sure you monitor the water level in the container so that the plant doesn’t sit in the water.
Satin pothos plants don’t require regular pruning, although you can make the plant become bushier if you cut off the tips of stems. Trailing stems should also be pruned if they are too long. The ideal time to prune the plant is in spring, prior to the growing season.
Cuttings propagated in water are the one way to get new satin pothos plants. Cut off a trailing vine so that you can get a few cuttings of 4 inches long having at least two or three leaves each with a node on the bottom of each section of stem. Place the clippings in water, replacing the water if it becomes discolored. Plant them in fresh soil when the roots are about an inch long. Satin pothos plants can grow in water but eventually, they will have to be transferred to soil. The other method involves planting the cutting directly into the soil.
You can improve its appearance is cutting off dead leaves and pruning the plant when the vines grow too long and thin. This will encourage new leaf growth.
Wash and keep the leaves clean with water occasionally to remove dust that can clog the pores.
Over-watering causes root rot and can be avoided by watering only when the topsoil is a bit dry. The stems will become soft and brown in color and/or black spots will appear on leaves. You can try and revive a pothos plant dying due to root rot by repotting it in fresh soil, but the chances of success depend on how much damage has taken place.
Pests like scale or spider mites usually cause problems for satin pothos. Act quickly when you see signs of infestation as they can kill the plant. Keep a bottle of neem oil ready as it is excellent for pest control. Spray the pests and wipe the leaves well and give the plant a water spray in the bathroom and wipe away excess water. Make sure to cut off any infected leaves.
Low humidity will cause leaf tips to turn brown. Yellow leaves are a symptom of over-watering. Brown spots bounded by yellow on leaves indicate leaf spot – cut off affected leaves.