Satin Pothos, Silver Vine, Silver Philodendron
Scindapsus Pictus (Satin Pothos) is an easy plant to grow and propagate just like their popular aroid cousins, pothos and philodendrons.
They also have a reputation for being easy to keep alive, thriving despite neglect.
I inherited a Satin Pothos recently, and it was the only non-succulent that made it through a recent cross-country move in high summer.
Position Medium to bright, indirect indoor sunlight
Watering Use room-temperature water when soil is dry
Size Four- to ten-foot vines
Climate 65°-85°F with 40%-50% humidity
Propagate Four-inch leaf cuttings
Seasonality Winter dormant
Toxicity Poisonous to people, cats, and dogs
Flowers Will flower in summer
The “pictus” part of Satin Pothos’ scientific name means “painted.” The silvery leaves look like stylized green hearts that swoosh to one side and have splashes of silvery-white paint on them with silvery-white painted edges.
These metallic splashes give the leaves a shiny color which adds to their visual appeal. It’s no wonder this plant is known by a few other names, including Silver Pothos, Silver Vine, and Silver Philodendron.
The plant’s genus comes from the Greek “skindapsos,” meaning “upon tree trunks,” which is where you would find this plant climbing in the wild. One of the charms of a Silver Pothos is its long vines of leaves that you can drape across objects or allow to trail downward. Scindapsus Pictus leaves also like to wrap around objects and climb.
Silver Pothos is mildly toxic to humans and domestic animals. Anyone who bites into one is going to feel like they’re biting into ground glass. That’s because the plant’s juices, stems, and leaves contain calcium oxalates. Calcium oxalates are sharp tiny crystals, which can cause burning, pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing, or temporary hoarseness when they come in contact with the skin, mouth, and throat.
Luckily, poisoning from a Silver Pothos is rare because most animals and children will spit it out before swallowing.
Scindapsus Pictus Care
Silver Vine is a very low-maintenance indoor house plant. It’s forgiving even if you forget it from time to time.
This plant is happiest in a warm environment between 65°F and 85°F with 40% to 50% humidity. While it will not be at its best, it can tolerate different humidity levels. However, it will die at temperatures below 55°F, and the leaf tips can turn brown at lower humidities.
One way to increase the humidity for tropical plants like Silver Vine is to place the plant pot and pot saucer into a tray filled with pebbles and water. Be sure the water level does not reach the bottom of the pot or container though. This will ensure that the air between the pebbles and the base of the pot can increase in temperature causing a slight rise in humidity.
Satin Pothos needs indirect medium to bright light to grow best. If you expose it to direct sun, the leaves will scorch and lose their silvery-white variegated coloring. Low light also leads to less variegation.
You’ll also want to ensure that your plant is not in a room that gets below 55°F.
Some good places to put a Satin Pothos plant in your house would be:
- Across the room from a window.
- In a sunny bathroom with a large frosted window.
- In a sunny room near a window with a sheer curtain or blinds.
Height and Spread
This plant is a tropical evergreen climber in the wild with vines that can grow as long as ten feet. I’ve trailed my Satin Pothos vines around the room, over the tops of bookshelves, around door frames, and along stair banisters. They are great at helping to create a lush, tropical feel to any room.
This is a great plant for latching onto the surfaces around them using their aerial roots. While the vines will do this themselves, you can help them along by guiding them over the areas you want them to grow. It’s a good idea to guide them where you want them to climb with clear thumbtacks or clear hooks that you can strategically place on a wall.
A stylistic alternative to draping the vines across a room is to use them for a hanging display. You can hang the plant in a basket or macrame plant hanger from the ceiling or place it on a high shelf so that the vines cascade down toward the floor. You can even hang several Silver Pothos (alone or with other trailing plants) in front of a window or opening between rooms to add privacy.
Another intriguing effect is to allow your plant to climb up your wall like ivy. Unlike ivy, they won’t cause any structural damage to your wall. And the effect is gorgeous.
Watering Scindapsus Pictus
Yes, you can overwater your Satin Pothos plant. They don’t do well in wet, soggy soil, which is why I said they forgive you when you forget them. If you overwater them or water them too often, the leaves will yellow, or the vines will wilt.
You’ll know that it’s time to water your plant when the top one to two inches of the plant is dry. Watering is necessary every one to two weeks, depending on how sunny and humid the room is.
Water your Scindapsus Pictus with room-temperature water. You’ll want to make sure that you water deeply enough that it gets through the roots and seeps out the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes.
You can plant your Satin Pothos in a regular indoor commercial potting soil mix. Philodendron plants like a combination of peat moss, pine bark (or other mulch), and perlite or vermiculite to keep it well-drained.
While a Silver Philodendron can flower, it’s not a significant feature of this particular species. You may find a fleshy spike with tiny flowers (a spadix) on your plant in summer. The flowers are usually bright green and turn into small berries.
Satin Pothos plants start growing in spring and continue through the end of fall. During its growing season, you’ll want to fertilize it once a month with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Avoid over-fertilizing by watering between feeds to flush out excess fertilizer. A build-up of fertilizer can cause root burn.
I like Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. It’s a good value product that can be used for feeding all of my houseplants. I usually make up a quantity in a medium-sized watering. That way, I tend not to have to waste any.
Just be sure to direct the water solution directly onto the soil rather than on the leaves to avoid any possibility of root or leaf burn.
How to Prune Scindapsus Pictus
Since Silver Philodendron plant juices and stems can cause a burning sensation on the skin, it’s better to snip the stems or leaves rather than pinch them back with your bare fingers.
As with all plants, the Silver Vine will remain healthier if you prune dead or damaged leaves. That way, it can divert its energy to the healthy part of the plant.
You may also want to prune the leaves when the vines become too long or become sparse.
When you prune back healthy foliage, you may want to consider using the parts you’ve pruned to start a new pot of Silver Philodendron, make a sparsely planted pot more densely planted, or give to a friend as a starter.
Here are some signs that your plant is ready to repot:
- No longer draining well (an indication that its become rootbound).
- Roots growing out of the pot’s drainage holes.
- A plant that’s started to grow slowly.
It’s best to re-pot a Satin Pothos in early spring. Find a pot or container that is slighter larger (2-3 inches) than the previous pot. Make sure it has good-sized drainage holes. Ease your plant from the old pot and re-pot using fresh well-draining potting soil.
Scindapsus Pictus Propagation
This is an easy plant to propagate. If vines are getting too long or the plant is looking sparse, growing new vines from leaf cuttings is simple.
There are two ways to propagate Silver Vine: leaf cuttings with a long stem in soil or water. For both methods, it helps if the stem already has a root node.
To propagate Satin Pothos in water, place the leaf-cutting in a propagation station or jar of water until it grows roots. Replace the water weekly while you wait for the roots to appear. Then it’s ready to plant.
To propagate in soil, place the leaf-cutting directly into moist soil. The soil should remain moist throughout the process. New growth will indicate it’s ready to transplant.
While planting in soil takes longer for roots to grow, it does prevent the cutting from the shock it can experience transferring between water and soil.
Common Problems with Satin Pothos
The most common problems with these plants are a result of overwatering or underwatering.
Scindapsus Pictus Leaves Curling
Philodendron will take a little abuse, but you cannot forget it indefinitely. If you notice that your Satin Pothos leaves are curling or wilting, you haven’t watered your plant enough. After you remember to water it, your plant should return to normal soon.
Scindapsus Pictus Leaves Yellowing
If all or a few of your Satin Pothos leaves begin to yellow, it’s because you have overwatered your plant. Wait until the soil is dry at least two inches down before you water it again. It should eventually get back to normal.
Other Varieties Of Scindapsus Pictus
- Scindapsus Pictus Argyraeus: has smaller dark green variegated leaves with more evenly dispersed silver markings and edges, contrasting strongly with the dark green leaves.
- Scindapsus Pictus Silvery Ann: has light green silver-variegated, heart-shaped leaves.
- Scindapsus Pictus Exotica: has dark green, lanced-shaped leaves larger and have large silver variegation splashes.
- Scindapsus Pictus Moonlight: has almost completely silver leaves with a dark green middle line.