Satin Pothos (Scindapsus Pictus): Care Guide & Common Problems
Despite its name, Satin Pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’) is not a pothos at all. But like pothos, they are low maintenance & great for beginner plant parents. They also have gorgeous leaves that can be flattering in any area of your house, only with proper care.
I’ve worked on growing my Satin Pothos for 3 years now. Through this article, I will teach you how to best care for your Satin Pothos so that you can grow a beautiful plant like mine. I’ll even teach you how to make new plants so you can share them with friends!
All About Satin Pothos
Satin Pothos, like many tropical plants, originates from the warm, tropical regions of Southeast Asia. The plants grow along the forest floor or up trees. These plants grow endlessly & take up as much space as possible. They can grow up to the tallest point of a tree & up to 18′ when spreading across the ground.
The leaves are very distinct & impossible to confuse with other varieties. Their heart-shaped leaves are blue-green with silver variegation and silver outlining. The silver pattern takes on a speckled pattern compared to other cultivars like Silver Pothos or Silvery Ann.
Other Names for Scindapsus Pictus “Argyraeus”
Scindapsus Pictus “Argyraeus” is most commonly known as Satin Pothos. Others may refer to it as Silk Pothos, Silver Vine, or Silver Satin.
Is Satin Pothos Pet Friendly?
Satin Pothos is mildly toxic to both pets & humans. When ingested, it can cause discomfort or a burning sensation in the mouth & throat, indigestion, possible vomiting & in severe cases of pet ingestion, even death. This is caused by insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that build up in the body, causing suffocation or kidney failure. These are extreme cases, but better safe than sorry.
Be sure to keep this plant away from your furry friends & curious little ones.
Is Satin Pothos Rare?
Satin pothos is uncommon but is still the most common variety of Scindapsus. It can still be found in box stores but is not as abundant as more common varieties like Golden Pothos.
In my experience, stores get a few uncommon plants like Satin Pothos with every shipment. They are a slower-growing plant, so private growers may sell these at a small markup. Despite this, it’s rarely an unattainable price like some Scindapsus Pictus varieties.
Satin Pothos vs Silver Pothos
Satin Pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’) has much smaller leaves in comparison to Silver Pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’). Though they are in the same species, they are very different cultivars with distinct characteristics.
Not only their size but the silver markings are also very distinct.
- Satin Pothos are darker blue-green & the silver appears as speckling.
- Silver Pothos will have more silver painted across the leaf & the green concentrated toward the center & random spots around the edge of the leaves.
The Exotica’s leaves are the same deep blue-green color, but you’ll see significantly less green than silver.
Satin Pothos vs Silvery Ann
Satin Pothos & Silvery Ann sometimes get confused because they have similar leaf shapes & sizes, but where they differ is their color.
- Satin Pothos will have a more speckled appearance & have more of the green leaf showing through than silver.
- Silvery Ann has much more silver in comparison to Satin Pothos. It almost looks like someone dipped the leaf into silver paint.
Since these 2 varieties have very different colorations, you’ll unlikely ever mistake them.
How to Care for Satin Pothos
Satin Pothos is one of the easiest to care for in the Pictus cultivars. It can tolerate a wide range of light, is drought tolerant … it essentially thrives on neglect! You’ll need to make sure it receives the basic amount of care – watering, fertilizing & light – & your plant will grow big & healthy.
|Light||Medium to Bright Indirect Light|
|Watering||Moderate, Drought Tolerant|
|Temperature||65-85°F (18-27 °C), not frost tolerant|
|Humidity||40-60% Relative Humidity|
|Fertilizer||Light to Moderate Feeder|
Lighting & Placement
Satin Pothos is tolerant to all light conditions, even low light. For best growth results, place in medium to bright indirect light. Careful not to place in direct sunlight for too long, as it can burn the delicate leaves. Satin pothos tends to do the best in east-facing windows. They can also acclimate to west-facing windows, but you’re more likely to see burns on your leaves from the harsh afternoon sun.
Satin pothos is also one of the few plants that do well in low-light conditions.
In low light, you may notice your plant growing slower, with smaller leaves or fewer silvery spots. If the lighting is too low, you’ll notice your leaves yellowing & falling off. The yellowing of leaves that need more light is very slow & generally doesn’t turn brown before dying off.
Do Satin Pothos Trail or Climb?
In nature, you’ll find Satin Pothos climbing trees, but it isn’t unusual to see it stretching across the ground or vining down from a branch. They don’t seem to care where or how they are growing.
They mature faster when they are able to attach their aerial roots to something like a moss pole or tree, but these plants rarely reach maturity indoors.
I like to let mine vine because they are so flattering in a hanging basket or as a corner plant for bookshelves.
Satin Pothos is drought tolerant & prefers to be on the dry side. Satin Pothos keep a lot of water in their thick leaves. Because of this water retention, they won’t need water as often as your other tropicals.
To err on the side of caution, you want to allow the soil to dry out or at least top 50% before watering again because they are prone to root rot.
If you keep your Satin Pothos in a bright room, it will need more water than if it were in low lighting.
I recommend waiting for the leaves to start curling & the pot is very light to pick up before watering.
Soil & Potting
The 2 most important elements your Satin Pothos needs in the soil are:
- Drainage: since the plant is prone to root rot, you don’t want soil that will retain a lot of moisture.
- Longevity: since you won’t repot this plant very often, you want soil that doesn’t break down quickly.
The recipe I have had the best experience with is:
- 2 parts coco coir
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part coco chips or orchid bark
- ½ part vermiculite
Temperature & Humidity
Like most tropical plants, Satin Pothos need a warm environment to thrive & they are very sensitive to temperature. In temperatures below 50°F, these plants will likely die. Satin Pothos is not at all frost tolerant & should even be kept away from cold windows in the winter.
The typical humidity in most households is 40-60%. Usually, this is perfect for your Satin Pothos. If you begin to notice the tips of your leaves turning brown & crispy, you may want to consider adding misting into your plant routine or investing in a humidifier.
Satin Pothos are light to moderate feeders, so you’ll only need to fertilize once to twice a month during the growing season.
If your plant is in a bright room, you’ll need to fertilize it more because it is growing faster & using more nutrients. During the winter, you won’t need to fertilize this plant at all.
Sometimes, these plants keep growing through the winter if kept in a warm & controlled environment. In these cases, you may need to fertilize year-round.
Growth Rate & Repotting
Satin Pothos grows at a slow to medium rate.
How fast it grows depends on the quality of care, particularly how much light it receives. Despite this, it won’t multiply fast like varieties of Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos) or other fast-growing plants.
You’ll only need to worry about repotting your Satin Pothos every 1-2 years, but in this time, you could see 3-4′ of vine growth.
It tolerates being rootbound, but if you see roots coming from the bottom of the pot, it’s time to repot. This means that your plant is searching for water & nutrients outside of the pot.
Though Satin Pothos is a great plant for beginners, you’ll likely encounter some problems. These plants aren’t prone to pests but attract some that are easy to manage. They’re also prone to yellowing leaves & root rot (most common).
Root Rot (Overwatering)
Because Satin Pothos has thick, water-retaining leaves, they are prone to root rot. It’s the #1 problem people see. When you have root rot, your leaves will begin to turn yellow very quickly & you’ll notice black spots that feel a little mushy. It is easy to confuse these with old leaves, which turn yellow slowly, or underwatering, which will cause them to turn yellow slowly & then brown with crisp edges.
To resolve this:
- Remove the plant from the soil, removing as much of the soil as you can.
- Look at the roots & remove any roots that are black & mushy.
- Cut away the black roots, sanitizing your tools between each cut.
- Repot your plant in fresh soil.
In cases of root rot, I always wait to water after repotting until the plant shows that it needs water: limp, curling leaves & a light pot. When you water, make sure the water drains well through the pot & there isn’t any water left in the pot or tray.
FURTHER READING: Scindapsus (Satin Pothos) Leaves Curling (Causes & Easy Fixes)
Leggy Growth w/ Yellowing Leaves
Though Satin Pothos can tolerate low light, it does reach a point where a large plant may die back to support the growth of the newest & healthiest leaves. The vines receiving the most light will have the most leaves & others will begin to yellow & fall away. Sometimes, it will not produce new leaves at all & will produce “runners” to seek out more light. These runners rarely have leaves on them & if they do, they’re very small.
To resolve this issue, move your plant to a well-lit area or consider adding a plant light over or near your plant. Remember, you’ll need to create a routine to ensure this light turns on & off appropriately. I don’t recommend leaving a plant light directly on your plant for more than 3 hours at first. I also recommend putting your plant near a light but not directly under it. Direct light for too long can cause burns on the plant’s leaves, even if they’re used to bright rooms.
Yellowing Leaves with Crispy Edges (Underwatering/Low Humidity)
If you notice that the leaves on your Satin Pothos are yellowing, but instead of turning black & mushy, they’re turning brown & crispy, you’re underwatering. In rare cases, you may need to increase the humidity around the plant as well. Unless you’re in a really dry climate, the relative household humidity is usually fine for your Satin Pothos.
To prevent underwatering, be sure to water when the leaves of your plant begin to curl.
In my case, I water once every other week with my plant in a bright room receiving medium light. I see a new leaf open approximately weekly across several vines in the pot.
Because Satin Pothos thrive in dryer conditions, it does seem to attract pests that also like these conditions. Pests like thrips & spider mites are the most common in these plants, but it’s not uncommon to see scale or mealy bugs too. Thankfully in my experience, the plant doesn’t seem very prone to them. In the 3 years, I’ve cared for my Scindapsus Pictus plants, I’ve seen pests on them once. And believe me when I say I have had my fair share of pest encounters over the years.
Propagating Satin Pothos is easy but can take so long that plant parents give up or forget about them. They take 2-3x longer to root than a traditional Pothos plant & the success rate in propagation is not as high as Pothos. I always make my cuts very intentionally & be sure I don’t put all of my eggs in one basket. I take multiple cuttings from multiple parts of the plant.
For best results, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle with a sterile cutting tool. Be sure you have at least 1 node, but 2 are more recommended. Ideally, one of your nodes will have an open & healthy leaf. There are 2 methods we have seen the most success with in the past – water propagation & sphagnum blend in a propagation box. A propagation box can be as simple as recycling the cup from your morning coffee or lunch takeout. (I’ve used both!)
To root in water, make sure 1 node is in the water at all times. Place your container where it receives bright, indirect light. Too much light or harsh sunlight can burn your clipping & if the light level is too low, it will likely never make roots. Change out your water every 7-10 days to prevent it from becoming stagnant.
With unsuccessful props, you’ll know pretty quickly. The clipping will begin to decline & appear as though it needs water (leaves curling or yellowing). Looking at the stem, you’ll see it’s yellow & mushy, or sometimes even black. Remove these failed clippings from the water as soon as you notice them & provide fresh water. If a disease or fungus caused your propagation to fail, it would quickly spread to the rest of your cuttings. Once your roots grow secondary roots, plant in well-draining soil. Make sure to acclimate your cutting to the soil but keep the soil a little wetter than you normally would for an established plant for a short time after planting.
I have a 1-in-10 success rate with propagating Satin Pothos in water.
Sphagnum & Prop Box
My preferred method of propagating my Satin Pothos is using a propagation box with sphagnum moss. If your cutting has aerial roots, make sure these are pointed down into the sphagnum to increase your chances of success. You can make these boxes as big or as small as you need, as long as they’re able to house your cutting & receive bright, indirect light. Once your cutting has roots, move it to the soil. Initially, you will need to acclimate your plant to the humidity outside of the prop box.
In my prop box, I have a base drainage layer of leca or gravel topped with moist sphagnum. This moss must remain moist to ensure your clippings do not dry out. The drainage layer allows the bottom of the moss to breathe & not sit directly in excess water. The top of my prop box is contained but has small, filtered holes to allow airflow. These can be as simple as pinholes made with a thumbtack with small filters over them. It is not required to filter these holes, but the cost of filtration is negligible. You can also use a cup with a mesh bag over the top. Airflow is essential because, without it, your propagations are doomed to mold & die.
I have a 50/50 chance with my clippings in a prop box. The chances increase because you only need one node to have a successful prop & it doesn’t seem to matter whether you have one or many. So where I would have 5 clippings in water, I could have 10 clippings in the prop box.