Scindapsus Pictus: Full Care Guide
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Easy care, beautiful trailing shape and a stunning silver sheen- there’s a lot to love about the Scindapsus pictus!
Scindapsus pictus is an evergreen vine that grows well in moderate temperatures and indirect light, making it a perfect plant for growing indoors. There are many varieties of Scindapsus pictus, including ones with shimmery all-green leaves, some with silver color and others with a lovely blend of the two. Thanks to a moderate growing pattern and few pest problems, Scindapsus pictus is easy to manage and care for, even for a houseplant beginner.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know to find, care for and propagate your Scindapsus pictus. Let’s get started!
RELATED: Can’t get enough tropical houseplants? Stop by our variegated Monstera and Pink Princess Philodendron care guide posts to see other stunning options!
Scindapsus Pictus Background
Scindapsus pictus originates in the tropical forests of Bangladesh and Malaysia. In its natural habitat, you’ll see this vining plant making its way up the sides of trees or creeping along the forest floor.
Scindapsus is an evergreen perennial vine that grows aerial roots like fingers from its vines. These roots provide extra points of attachment, helping the plant latch on and grow up the sides of trees in its native home or up a moss pole in your home. If allowed to reach its full length, Scindapsus pictus can be anywhere between 4 and 10 feet long.
Probably the most stunning feature that Scindapsus has to offer are its leaf colors, including greens, gray/silvers, and variegated. There are high and low levels of variegation depending upon the cultivar, but they are all strikingly beautiful.
According to North Carolina State Extension, Scindapsus pictus will produce flowers in the form of a spadix, which is a small, upright structure that is actually composed of a multitude of tiny flowers. You can get a better look at a spadix in this photo:
But since indoor growing conditions are far more limited, it’s unlikely that you’ll see any flowering on your houseplant.
Scindapsus pictus goes by a few different names, including:
- Satin pothos
- Silver pothos
- Silk pothos
These names would easily lead you to believe that this plant is a member of the pothos species.
But are Scindapsus and pothos the same thing? Despite appearances, Scindapsus pictus is its own genus, while pothos belongs to the Epipremnum genus. In fact, the Scindapsus genus includes 35 varieties!
However, both Scindapsus pictus and pothos do belong to the same larger plant family, the Araceae family. So while pothos and Scindapsus aren’t siblings, they are essentially the plant equivalent of cousins.
And they do bear a pretty striking family resemblance. Both are vining plants with a similar native habitat, which gives them many of the same care needs and growth characteristics. A couple of these are heart-shaped leaves that sprout and unfurl from trailing the central vine as well as the production of aerial roots.
But there are enough differences to make these plants fall into two separate categories, with the main one being the leaf variegation. Scindapsus has glittery leaves with silver variegations, while pothos (of which there are dozens) tend to stick with yellow, green, or white variegations on their leaves.
RELATED: We love pothos, and we’ve got several posts on various beautiful varieties. Visit our Pothos N Joy care guide and Snow Queen Pothos post to see more!
Varieties of Scindapsus Pictus and Where to Buy Them
Most varieties of Scindapsus pictus are not especially rare or expensive, and you may be able to find at least one variety in your local nursery or home improvement store.
But some others are more difficult to track down. And even if you’re looking for a more common variety, who wants to leave it to chance when you might stumble upon one? Either way, online specialty retailers are usually the most reliable option.
At the time of publishing, the ones we’re featuring below are all available on Etsy. Since live plants are a limited commodity, don’t get discouraged if the one you want is currently sold out. There should be new baby plants available in a few months, or other sellers may make some available. Visit Etsy here to see shops that currently have them in stock.
Often confused with pothos ‘Jade’ because of its all-green leaves. But even though there’s no variegation, the leaves still have a lovely silvery shimmer.
Silvery Ann has smaller leaves with much more silver, especially towards the tips. The variegation pattern varies greatly, even within a single plant. So it’s always a surprise!
Silver Splash leaves are a little larger and have more green than silver. The new growth has an especially deep green color.
Exotica boasts larger leaves and a higher amount of silver than green. Due to its high variegation, Exotica needs a little more light than its siblings.
The Argyraeus subspecies has small patches of variegation and often has a white ring outlining the leaf perimeter.
Scindapsus Pictus Care
These plants are pretty low-maintenance, but let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each aspect of care to help you be successful with your Scindapsus:
Proper Pot Size and Type
Scindapsus pictus is much better off with a smaller pot than an oversized one that holds more soil and, in turn, excessive moisture. Look for a pot that’s up to 2 inches larger than the root ball, and you should be in good shape.
Scindapsus is happy in just about any pot material, including plastic, ceramic or terra cotta. But always make sure that any pot you choose has at least one drainage hole.
If the pot you have your eye on doesn’t have pre-made drainage holes, plant your Scindapsus in a plastic nursery pot (which always has multiple drainage holes). Then set the nursery pot inside your pretty one.
When you need to water, take the nursery pot out. Give the watering, and when the excess water has drained out, replace the nursery pot back inside the larger pot.
Nursery pots come in every size imaginable, so you’ll be able to find one that’s the right size for your plant with no trouble. What’s more, they’re inexpensive and usually come in a multi-pack.
Well-Draining Potting Soil
Scindapsus isn’t overly picky about its soil conditions, but it absolutely must drain well.
Most indoor potting soil blends are formulated for good drainage, so they should work just fine.
Place your plant near a window where it will receive at least 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight. In the wild, Scindapsus grows underneath the dense rainforest canopy, so it’s adapted to filtered, bright light.
If you place your plant in a windowsill that receives direct sunlight, be sure to place a curtain or sheer to filter the light and prevent scorching the leaves. You could also situate your plant a few feet back from a south-facing window, or place it in an east or west-facing window.
And if you don’t have access to a window with the right lighting, you can always use a grow light to supplement.
Scindapsus pictus prefers it when its lower soil levels stay slightly moist, but not water-logged. You can test this by sticking your finger into the soil and assessing how it feels.
If it feels dry to about your first knuckle, your plant is ready for some water. Even if this top layer of soil feels dry, the deeper soil is probably still holding onto some dampness, which is just what this plant likes. But when the surface dries out, it’s time to replenish the moisture and start the cycle over again.
If you test the soil and the surface still feels damp, wait another day or two, then test again.
You can also use a moisture meter to get a reading of the water level in your plant’s soil on a scale of 1 to 10. Insert the tip a few inches into the soil, and you’ll get a reading.
If your moisture reading looks like this, you definitely need to hold off on watering for a while! For a plant that prefers moist soil (like Scindapsus), I’d give water when the meter reads a 4.
But watering needs vary based on the season. Like many houseplants, Scindapsus goes into a period of winter dormancy, roughly during October through March. Dormancy is a time of resting for your plant, so growth slows down significantly.
Because of this, your plant can’t absorb and process water as well during this resting phase. Plan to reduce your watering routine by about half to avoid overwhelming and damaging your plant.
As a tropical plant, Scindapsus grows best in temperatures between 65 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a pretty common temperature range for humans too, so your plant is probably happy if you are!
Just be careful not to expose your plant to temperatures lower than 60 degrees, as this tropical native can’t handle conditions that chilly. So make sure to move your Scindapsus away from drafty windows in the winter and strong air conditioning vents in the summer.
Scindapsus grows naturally in damp climates, so it appreciates humidity levels of 50% to 60%, but it will tolerate 40% for a time.
If you don’t live in a naturally humid climate, you can do a few things to help your plant stay comfortable:
- Let water evaporate naturally. Fill a tray with small stones, add water to cover the stones and set your plant’s pot on top. This will let your plant absorb the water vapor as it rises, but keep your pot out of standing water. If you’d like to see the process in more detail, visit our post on how to build a pebble humidity tray.
- Make a plant support group. Plants transpire, or release water from their leaves. Placing your Scindapsus near other plants lets them absorb the moisture the other plants release.
- Use a humidifier. This is probably the easiest and most reliable way to increase ambient humidity. We cover this topic in much more detail in our post on humidity and plant humidifiers, so stop by to learn more.
During the active growing season (spring to fall), Sincdapsus pictus likes a balanced fertilizer about once per month. This formula from The Grow Co is great because it’s organic and an easy-to-use liquid.
Just like with watering needs, seasonal dormancy comes into play with fertilizing as well. Do not give any fertilizer during the dormant months (October-March). Your plant doesn’t need extra nutrients during this time, and the chemical ingredients may end up burning your plant.
This plant doesn’t need any routine pruning aside from trimming yellow or brown leaves and cutting off overgrown, sparse vines.
If you’d like to keep your Scindapsus in a fuller, bushier shape, you can trim it a little more aggressively to prevent any stems from getting too long.
As a vining plant, Scindapsus forms ling, trailing stems. You could put your plant in a hanging basket and just let it grow in all its natural glory.
Or if you prefer, you could use a support structure to keep your plant in a more upright shape. Scindapsus will climb trees in the wild, so a moss pole makes an excellent indoor stand-in.
Repotting Scindapsus Pictus
Whether you’re buying a Scindapsus for the first time or you’ve had one in your home for a while, there are some signs you should look out for that may indicate it’s time to repot:
- Soil is soggy and not draining well
- You can see roots poking out from the pot’s drainage hole
- It seems the Scindapsus isn’t growing as well or has slowed down growth
In general, you’ll need to move your Scindapsus into a larger pot every year or two. The ideal time of year to repot your Scindapsus is either in the spring or early summer, once the active growing season is at hand.
One thing to be aware of is that Scindapsus doesn’t always appreciate your kindness in repotting it, at least not right away. You may notice some leaf drooping and curling in the days after moving your plant to a new pot, but just keep giving it normal care and it should rebound shortly and reward you with healthy new growth.
We’ve put together a complete photo tutorial post on the repotting process using a pothos plant as the subject. This is a process that’s best laid out visually, so stop by to learn for yourself!
Potential Problems with Scindapsus Pictus
Scindapsus is a relatively easy houseplant to care for and doesn’t have many serious issues.
The most common problems with some fixes include the following:
Overwatering or Under-Watering
Overly wet soil often shows up in the form of yellowing leaves, and in severe cases, root rot.
As long as you take quick action to fix the overwatering problem, your plant can usually bounce back if a few leaves have turned yellow. However, root rot is a serious problem that can lead to plant death. You’ll be able to recognize it by blackening and softening of the stems or leaves.
If you think you’ve been overwatering, stop all watering immediately. Do not give any more until the top 1 inch of soil feels dry to your touch.
If you spot any black stems or leaves, remove your plant from the pot and use clean scissors or pruning shears to cut out any damaged stems and roots. Then repot in a clean, new container with fresh potting soil to keep the rot from staging a comeback.
Going forward, let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. Keeping a record of when you checked the soil moisture and gave water can help you figure out a schedule that works best for you.
But while too much water is the greater danger to your plant, you also need to make sure it has enough to thrive. Don’t allow the soil to dry out past the top inch or so, as the Scindapsus can start to wilt. When it’s time to water, give enough to run through the pot and out the drainage hole.
The most common (although rare) insects to attack Scindapsus are spider mites and scale.
Take swift action as soon as you spot any pests to prevent any big problems and keep them from spreading to your other plants. Immediately take your affected Scindapsus away from any other houseplants, preferably into another room, during treatment.
Remove as many of the bugs as you can. For spider mites, take your plant outside and spray it off with the hose or take it in your shower and run water over it. For scale insects, use tweezers or a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to pry the bugs off your plant.
Then use insecticidal soap or neem oil. Follow the instructions for use on the package, and be prepared to re-apply the treatment over the next few days to fully rid your plant of pests.
Once you haven’t spotted any bugs for several days, it’s safe for your Scindapsus to rejoin its houseplant friends.
If you notice your Scindapsus leaves turning brown, it may be getting too much direct sun. Remember, Scindapsus is the wild grows underneath the dense rainforest canopy, so it prefers filtered light.
On the other hand, leaves losing some of their silver variegation is a sign that your plant may not be getting enough light. Those lovely variegated patches don’t photosynthesize food as much as the green areas do, and your plant will sacrifice its coloring to survive.
And remember that light exposure changes throughout the year, even at the same window, thanks to the sun’s shifting position in the sky. So you may need to move your plant to various locations at different seasons.
Also, don’t forget about the grow-light option. Natural light doesn’t always happen the way we want, and an artificial light source can be a lifesaver.
Propagating Scindapsus Pictus
Scindapsus pictus is such a lovely and easy-going plant that you’ll probably want to have several for yourself or to give away. With propagation, you can turn a single plant into many, all without hurting your beloved plant or spending a ton of cash.
Propagation means taking a cutting (which is a stem section with a growth node and leaves) of a healthy plant. This cutting then establishes a root system of its own, making it an independent plant.
And it’s easy, too. All you need are some clean scissors or pruning shears, a glass of water, a small pot and some good quality potting soil.
Propagation typically works best in the spring and summer months, when your plant is in its active growth phase. And always use a sanitized cutting tool for taking your cutting. You can do this by wiping the blades down with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
The steps of propagation are best followed visually, so here’s an outstanding video from Swedish Plantguys that demonstrates the process:
Frequently Asked Questions about Scindapsus Pictus
Whether you call it a Scindapsus pictus, silver lady, or satin pothos, this lovely plant is a striking beauty and low-maintenance. With so many different varieties and variegations, the most difficult thing may be choosing just one!
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