Satin Pothos (Silver Pothos) Care: Growing Scindapsus Pictus

Whether you prefer the name satin pothos or silver pothos, one thing’s for certain: this pothos variety is utterly stunning. If it’s your goal to grow a satin pothos, this guide will be chock full of applicable information.

How to care for a satin pothos? Here’s how to care for a satin pothos:

  • Water when several inches of soil are dry 
  • Provide bright, indirect light 
  • Use well-draining potting soil 
  • Choose a semi-porous pot material 
  • Set temperature to 65-85°F and 40-50%percent humidity 
  • Fertilize monthly during active growing season 

Ahead, I’ll talk further above the above care facets in a lot more detail. I’ll also share some basic satin pothos facts and discuss what to do should pests strike your lovely pothos. 

Satin Pothos Overview

The satin pothos, as I mentioned in the intro, is a plant with many names. Its scientific name is the Scindapsus pictus Argyraeus, but indoor gardeners vacillate between calling it the satin pothos and the silver pothos. 

For the sake of clarity, throughout the rest of this guide, I’ll be referring to the Scindapsus pictus Argyraeus as the satin pothos.

The plant is native to such parts of the world as the Philippines, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India. 

Outdoors, it’s common for the satin pothos to reach sizes as large as 10 feet, but indoors, you can expect growth around three feet. This houseplant loves to climb when given the room in its environment.

The reason for the silver pothos nickname has to do with the variegation of the pothos’ leaves. Those leaves are about the same size as regular pothos. The matte green of the leaves is punctuated by blotches and spots of silvery-gray.

The variegation is quite striking overall. It’s no wonder the satin pothos was assigned the scientific name pictus, as that translates to “painted.”

In a few instances, you might see flowers from your satin pothos, but this is an event in and of itself. Those flowers are small and will bloom in the summer. Their color is bright green.

The flowers tend to produce tiny berries. Since pothos plants can irritate the skin and cause digestion issues if consumed, I wouldn’t recommend eating the berries just to be on the safe side! 

Caring for Satin Pothos

Are you ready to begin growing the fascinating, beautiful, rewarding plant that is the satin pothos? Per the intro, here are the care areas to start with. 

Watering a Satin Pothos

If you’ve tended to other pothos, then the same watering habits apply to the satin pothos. That is, you should allow several inches of soil to dry out before you water it.

How many inches seems to vary among indoor gardeners. Some will water their satin pothos as soon as the soil feels dry an inch deep. Others wait until the soil dries two or three inches deep.

I’d recommend the latter practice. The pothos in general is not a fan of standing water, and that’s true of the satin pothos as well. 

If you’re watering your pothos when an inch of its soil is dry, that could very well be too often. For your efforts, you might be rewarded with soggy, discolored leaves. Root rot could start deep within the plant’s root system, later leading to death.

That said, it’s perfectly reasonable to water the satin pothos slightly more often in the summer due to the high heat. If you let at least two inches of soil dry out, then you shouldn’t create conditions for root rot even during hot seasons. 

Watch out that you don’t end up in the opposite situation though, which is an underwatered satin pothos. You’ll know your plant needs more water when its leaves look and feel crispy. The edges will also turn brown. 

The satin pothos ideally prefers water without chlorine. That might be the tap water from your sink, or you might have to filter your water before tipping it into your watering can. 

Satin Pothos Light Requirements

Bright, indirect light is the optimal lighting condition for the satin pothos.

Since it’s variegated, you have to tread lightly here. 

Placing the satin pothos in the dark for too long will cause its appealing variegation to fade. However, this houseplant will not have any other ill effects in the shade since it’s accustomed to lower levels of light.

Still, I’d suggest brighter, indirect light whenever you can provide it. 

You only need a windowed room with a curtain to create bright, indirect light. The window should be easterly or northerly.

An easterly-facing window gets the soft glow of the morning sun but not as much sunlight in the afternoon. Northerly-facing windows never receive direct light.

If your satin pothos is in a westerly or southerly-facing window, move it stat. The bright, harsh sun can burn its leaves and dehydrate the plant, leaving it in a bad state. 

Best Soil for a Satin Pothos

Standard houseplant potting mix suits the satin pothos just fine. Above all else, ensure that the mix is well-draining. 

To reiterate, the satin pothos doesn’t like excess water in its pot. That’s why I recommend amending the soil with a few ingredients that can augment drainage and improve aeration as well.

Sand will aerate the soil and allow water to drain, but I’d suggest using a limited quantity. It could dry out the soil prematurely and put you in a situation where you water your silver pothos too often.

You already know what could then follow: root rot. 

Pine bark, which is sourced from milled wood, introduces more space within the soil, so it’s another good amendment. I’d recommend the finely ground stuff rather than large chunks.

Coconut coir is a third aerating material. This coconut husk byproduct also has good moisture retention qualities, so only a little bit is needed in the pot of a satin pothos. 

You can’t go wrong with perlite, which is recommended for soilless and soil growing mediums alike. The soil will remain well-draining and loose with these white particles in it. 

The ideal soil pH range for the satin pothos is 6.1 to 6.5. Before you go dumping in soil amendments, double-check that the products don’t increase or decrease the soil pH by too much. 

For example, perlite has a higher pH of 7.0 to 7.5. Pine bark features a lower pH of 4.0 to 5.0 so it could balance out the perlite. 

Best Type of Pot for a Satin Pothos

Recalling the satin pothos’ dislike of standing water, a semi-porous pot material such as glazed terracotta or clay is a smart pick for this houseplant.

On their own, terracotta or clay pots are porous, which means they absorb fluids readily. By purchasing treated terracotta or clay with layers of glaze, they become somewhat more non-porous.

The water absorption rate won’t be so fast that you have to water your satin pothos more frequently, but it won’t be slow enough to retain standing water for long.

If you’ve searched high and low and you can’t find any glazed terracotta or clay pots, you have another option. You can always buy an untreated terracotta pot with a plastic liner at the bottom.

Plastic is nonporous so it won’t absorb water. Your satin pothos will have a reliable area of moisture in its pot so it’s not parched. 

Satin Pothos Ideal Temperature and Humidity

The satin pothos thrives in temperatures between 65- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer temps are reminiscent of its tropical home.

Yet its temp requirements aren’t too warm, so by keeping your home or office at room temperature, you and the satin pothos both can be happy. 

The satin pothos is relatively heat-tolerant, as it can withstand temperatures up to 90 degrees, but no higher. You’d be sweating buckets in an environment like that anyway. 

What’s cold to the satin pothos might not be too chilly to you, so take heed that its temps should never dip past 60 degrees. At that temperature, foliage damage can occur. In temps around 50 degrees, the plant can die.

Before that happens, cold stress is likely for the satin pothos.

Cold stress can cause symptoms such as necrosis or tissue death, wilting, leaf yellowing, and stunted growth. Moving your satin pothos to a warmer spot can save it if the cold stress isn’t too severe. 

What about humidity, you ask? The satin pothos needs that too. Humidity between 40 and 50 percent will induce the level of moisture the satin pothos craves.

Since the houseplant’s humidity requirements are within the average relative humidity range, there should be no need to use a humidifier or mist your satin pothos.  

Best Fertilizer for a Satin Pothos

To support its growth, fertilize the satin pothos once a month during its active growing season. That starts in the spring and lasts through the fall.

Use water-soluble fertilizer for this houseplant. Water-soluble fertilizer will dissolve with the water in your pothos pot, providing a quick burst of nutrients. 

The balance of macronutrients should be equal, such as a 20-20-20 mix or a 10-10-10 mix. 

Depending on the brand of fertilizer you buy, you might be required to dilute it before applying it. If so, then follow the dilution instructions. 

Water-soluble fertilizer doesn’t remain in the pot long enough to lead to issues like fertilizer burn, at least if you’re using the correct quantities and applying only once per month. If you notice crust on the surface of the soil though, then you must scale back fertilizer application. 

Common Issues with a Satin Pothos

It can be frustrating when you pour your love and care into the satin pothos, but it doesn’t love you back.

Let’s talk about the pests and problems that can put a damper on your pothos growing experience, including how to overcome these issues. 

Common Pests

Pests are actually anything but common for the satin pothos. Well, except for one: spider mites.

Known for its silken webs on the underside of plant leaves, the spider mite is part of a large family that has more than 1,000 species.

Some species can hatch in three days. By day five, the mite is considered sexually mature and can begin reproducing.

Spider mites have a lifespan of about a month but can lay 20 eggs per day in that month, so infestations spread fast.

Dry, hot conditions can attract spider mites, which explains why these insects choose the satin pothos as their host. 

To treat your spider mite problem without harsh chemicals, combine 30 ounces of water and a cup of isopropyl alcohol. Transfer the mix to a spray bottle and mist your satin pothos anywhere you see spider mites. 

A combination of water and dish detergent on a cotton swab also usually does the trick! 

Other Problems

What if your issue with the satin pothos isn’t pests? More than likely, one of these troublesome matters is going on. 

  • Leaf browning: Besides the abovementioned underwatering issue, your satin pothos leaves could become brown due to root rot. The color might be darker as well, even blackish. I recommend removing your satin pothos from its pot and checking for decaying roots. Cut off the dead roots, repot your plant in drier soil, and monitor closely in the days to come.
  • Long stems but few new leaves: If your satin pothos is all stems but no leaves and if those stems are particularly thin, then your plant has gotten leggy. This is a clear sign the satin pothos needs more sunlight, as the stems are stretching towards whatever sun they can get.

Satin Pothos Common Questions

If you still have further questions about growing the satin pothos, allow this FAQs section to be your guide. 

Why Are the Leaves of My Satin Pothos Curling?

You can barely see the beautiful silver flecks across the leaves of your satin pothos because all the leaves have turned inward. Why is this happening and what can you do about it?

Leaf curling is a houseplant’s defense mechanism that kicks in when the plant receives too much light. The leaves are protecting themselves from burning to a crisp, or they’re trying to, anyway. 

If the leaves of your satin pothos are curling on only one side, then that side of your plant might be receiving too much sunlight. Turn the plant so the other side can get some sun. The curled leaves should soon open.

When all the leaves on your satin pothos have curled, you should consider moving it to a part of the room that’s less sunny. 

Satin Pothos vs. Exotica – What’s the Difference?

As I said earlier in this guide, the satin pothos is one of many pothos varieties. Another one is known as the Scindapsus pictus Exotica or the Exotica pothos.

The satin pothos and Exotica share some traits that can make you easily confuse one for another. Their variegations are very similar, for instance. 

One way to tell them apart is to study the amount of coloration on the leaves. A satin pothos has only small flecks or blotches of silver or gray. The Exotica’s leaves are mostly silver or gray with flecks of green. 

The rate of growth is another giveaway. For their stunning beauty, the Exotica pothos is known for growing rather slowly. 

Otherwise, both pothos varieties have very similar care requirements, right down to preferring the same temperature range and humidity. If you can care for one, you can care for the other, so why not add both to your indoor garden? 

Is the Satin Pothos Poisonous to Cats?

You have a feline friend or several in the house, which has led you to carefully curate your indoor garden. Before you bring home a satin pothos, you must know, is this houseplant species toxic to cats?

Yes, it is, and it’s toxic to dogs too. Tongue, lip, and/or mouth irritation can occur upon ingestion of the plant’s variegated leaves. Your pet could be unable to swallow, and they might begin vomiting or salivating excessively.

Bring your cat or dog to the vet immediately. 

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