The Scindapsus pictus is a beautiful plant recognized by its dark green leaves with splashes of silvery gray variegation. Also called satin pothos, this plant is not actually a member of the pothos family. With some simple requirements, learning to care for Scindapsus pictus will be easy and rewarding.
Originally from Southeast Asia, Scindapsus pictus has become a fairly common houseplant. It will develop vines, but it generally has very compact growth. I fell in love with the velvety leaves and distinct variegation patterns of satin pothos, and I’m sure you will too!
Scindapsus Pictus Quick Care
Scientific name: Scindapsus pictus
Common name: Satin pothos
Water: When the top inch or two of soil feels dry. Be careful not to overwater as root rot is common.
Light: Bright, indirect light is best. Avoid direct sunlight.
Soil: Any well-draining houseplant mix will work.
Humidity: Does not need extremely high humidity, but around 30-40% is preferable.
Temperature: Standard room temperature, 65 – 85°F (18 – 30°C).
Propagation: Place stem cuttings in water or moist potting mix to propagate.
Toxicity: If ingested, toxic to people and pets.
If you’ve ever looked up some information about your plant, and then forgotten it immediately, this care sheet is for you. Plants all have different needs. Keep track of the various requirements for lighting, water, and other things; as well as any other notes you want to take.
Print out copies for each plant you have, and create your own plant care binder! All of your information will be easily accessible in one place.
Scindapsus Pictus Care Guide
Water your Scindapsus pictus when the top inch or two of soil is dry. Check this by using a moisture meter or sticking your finger in the dirt.
This is a plant that will show you when it is thirsty. I notice that the leaves of mine start to curl up when it is getting too dry, and they will go back to normal after watering. This is most noticeable in the warmer months when it is growing more and using more water. In the colder months, I’ve found that the curling is not as obvious.
Scindapsus pictus are more tolerant of being under-watered than being over-watered, and they can develop root rot easily. If the roots are consistently too damp, the plant can appear wilted and the stems and leaves may feel mushy. If the soil feels wet to the touch a few days after you water the plant, you are over-watering.
To prevent this, I prefer to bottom water my satin pothos. I do this by placing the pot (with drainage holes) into my sink that I filled with a few inches of water. The plant sits in the water for around 10 minutes, giving it time to absorb the amount of water that it needs. It does take a bit longer than pouring water on top, but I recommend trying it out if you are prone to over-watering your plants.
Your standard, all-purpose potting mix will be fine. There are definitely plants that are picky about the soil they’re in, but Scindapsus pictus is not one of those plants. If you want to do anything extra, consider adding some pumice or perlite to help the soil drain easier.
Since Scindapsus pictus is susceptible to root rot, drainage is crucial. Ideally, it should be in soil that is not too dense and in a pot with drainage holes.
If you are someone who has killed plants by overwatering them, using pots with drainage holes is the best thing that you can do. If you don’t like the look of the plastic nursery pots or don’t want to use a saucer, use a cachepot! This is a decorative cover pot that you can place the nursery pot into. It gives you the benefits of both worlds – the stylish pot is on display, but excess water is easy to remove.
For Scindapsus pictus, bright indirect sunlight is best. It will tolerate lower light, but there is a risk of losing variegation (its characteristic silvery splashes) if the plant is in low light for a long time. The plant will also grow slower if it is not receiving enough light.
Based on my own experience, I want to caution you against placing your Scindapsus pictus in a spot where it will be in direct sunlight. I had mine in a spot that was too sunny, and I noticed that some of the leaves were starting to look weird. I realized that this was sun bleaching, so I moved it out of the direct sunlight. I haven’t had a problem since, and I’m glad that I noticed before it damaged more leaves.
If you want to position your plant near a window where it would receive direct sunlight, diffuse the light with some sheer curtains or shades. Otherwise, choose a different spot or move it back further from the window.
Humidity is not a critical requirement for Scindapsus pictus, but it should still be considered. It’s not a tropical plant that needs extremely high humidity or a greenhouse, but you shouldn’t keep it in super dry air.
The normal relative humidity in your house is probably sufficient for your Scindapsus pictus. If you live in certain climates or know that your home is dry in the winter, it would be beneficial to use a humidifier to keep the humidity above 30%.
I keep my Scindapsus pictus in my bedroom on the same table as the humidifier, so I know that they are not going to get too dry in the winter. Right now, it’s the beginning of November, and I can see that the air is already drying out. I started running my humidifier for a few hours every day.
I wouldn’t say that this is a plant that requires you to go out and buy a humidity sensor and a humidifier; there are much needier plants in that department. Some species that love humidity include calathea, peace lilies (spathiphyllum), and most varieties of ferns. So if you already have those items because of other plants, your Scindapsus pictus will benefit from them as well, but they are not a necessity.
- Dusting – As with many other plants, you should dust the leaves regularly. Depending on the size and number of leaves, it may be easier to wipe them with a damp cloth or spray them with water. A shower head is great for this. I use my kitchen sink for dusting smaller plants because the faucet switches to a shower head-like spray.
- Fertilizing – Use a standard liquid houseplant fertilizer. Dilute it as necessary and follow the instructions on the bottle. Fertilizing should be done every few weeks in the growing season and decreased or stopped during the winter.
- Rotating – Every week, rotate your plant by 90 degrees where it is sitting. This will ensure that all the leaves are getting an equal amount of light. The plant will stay balanced rather than leaning too far in one direction.
- Growing vines – Sometimes, Scindapsus pictus will start to grow long, leggy vines. They may have small leaves on them, but they are mainly just long stems. These grow when the plant is looking to expand. In the wild, they would be looking for trees or other plants to latch onto for support. But they obviously won’t find that in your house! If you don’t like the look of these vines, you can prune them. (At least, that’s what I’m going to do with mine.) The vines are probably a good sign that your plant needs a bigger pot. Use a pot that is one or two inches larger in diameter than its current size.
Scindapsus Pictus Varieties
In general, all forms of Scindapsus pictus are known for their darker, matte green leaves with silver/gray variegation. They are vining plants similar to pothos. There are some rarer varieties, but the three that are common in nurseries and plant shops are the argyraeus, exotica, and Silvery Ann.
In my opinion, it’s hard to tell which variety you’re looking at if you only have one. The colors and variegation patterns are all very similar between the three. If you’re looking at multiple plants, it’s easier to pick out the distinctions. It just takes some practice. It’s also helpful if it’s correctly labeled when you buy your plant, so you already know what you’re getting.
Luckily, it doesn’t matter if you can’t tell them apart, because the care for all scindapsus pictus varieties is the same! However, here is a brief description of each to help you differentiate. I only have the argyraeus variety, but you can search for pictures of the other kinds.
- Scindapsus pictus argyraeus – The leaves on the argyraeus have the typical silver/gray variegation, but they are still primarily green. The variegation pattern is more discrete or segmented rather than blended.
- Scindapsus pictus exotica – Of the three, the exotica tends to have the largest leaves. The defining feature is the solid green trail down the center of the leaves, which is not present in the other varieties.
- Scindapsus pictus Silvery Ann – This variety has larger patches of variegation that sometimes take up more than half the area of the leaf. The variegation on the Silvery Ann tends to look more blended than the pattern on the argyraeus.
How To Propagate Scindapsus Pictus
Scindapsus pictus are propagated by cuttings that can be rooted in water or other substrates like damp moss. I only have experience with water propagation, so that’s what I’m going to explain.
The first step is to take your cuttings. You’ll need to locate some root/aerial nodes, shown above, and make sure that each cutting has a stem with a node. If there’s no node, there’s no place for roots to develop, and the cutting will rot instead of growing.
It isn’t a hard rule, but I like to leave my cuttings out in the air for at least an hour or two before placing them in water. Letting them dry seals off the cut a bit, so that the plant doesn’t immediately become waterlogged and start rotting. Larger plants, like monstera deliciosa cuttings, should dry out longer, but a few hours is fine for the smaller Scindapsus pictus stems.
Once the stems have dried out a bit, you can place the cuttings in your container of water. The jar should be in a spot that receives a good amount of light, most likely near where you keep your other plants. Empty the glass and refill it with fresh water at least once per week.
Plant the cutting in soil once it has a significant root system to support itself. I’m always a fan of leaving my propagations in water for longer than necessary because it won’t harm the plant, but roots that are about six inches long should be good enough. In general, it’s always better to take multiple cuttings if you can because they probably won’t all be successful.
I wish I had better progress pictures to share, but I took these cuttings very recently. Your Scindapsus pictus should root relatively quickly, and there should be some evidence of root growth within a month or so.
My Scindapsus Pictus Collection
Currently, my collection consists of two Scindapsus pictus argyraeus. They are from Pistils nursery, and I ordered both at the same time in December 2019. Almost a year later, they are still thriving, which is why I feel confident in talking about their care. That’s usually how I judge: if I’m not actively killing a plant, then I’m probably doing things right!
This was actually the first time that I ordered plants online. It wasn’t the best choice to try that out in December since the weather is so cold where I live. At the time, I didn’t think that I would ever find one in a store near me. I was impatient, they’re so gorgeous, and I just had to try it! They arrived in perfect condition, and I was so glad that it worked out.
Since then, I have seen a few Scindapsus pictus argyraeus and other varieties in stores, but I’m still happy that I ordered mine when I did. They’re so healthy and vibrant and some of my favorite plants that I own.
They haven’t grown too much, and they don’t grow as quick as pothos. I do think that mine are getting a bit root bound and could stand to be repotted to have more room. I’ve been putting it off because I can’t decide if I want to keep the two plants separate or combine them to make a larger plant.
If you’re someone who loves touching or petting leaves, I would totally recommend Scindapsus pictus. The leaves aren’t exactly fuzzy, but they do have a lovely, velvety texture. And even if you’re not buying plants based on how they feel, Scindapsus pictus is still a beautiful one!
Hopefully, this has answered all of your questions about Scindapsus pictus care! This plant’s amazing variegation will be sure to stand out against a sea of plain green leaves. Its low-maintenance care makes it an easy addition for beginners.
I love how the satin pothos is similar to golden and other types of pothos in terms of easy care. But the striking variegation and color schemes make the Scindapsus pictus appear more exotic than it really is.
If you have any other questions about Scindapsus pictus care, let me know by leaving a comment!