How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Silver Pothos (Satin Pothos)
The Silver Pothos (also known as the Satin Pothos, or Scindapsus pictus) is a very popular houseplant. This evergreen climbing plant is well liked for it's paler green leaves, beautiful marbling, and hardy nature. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey examines how to plant, grow, and care for Silver Pothos plants.
With cascading heart-shaped silvery leaves that have a soft satin-like texture, the Silver Satin Pothos is a stunning houseplant that stands out amongst the rest. It has a deep greenish-blue hue that is sparkled and splotched with silver-grey variegations. And no two leaves are the same! In spite of its dazzling unique beauty, this tropical vine is just as easy to grow as its pothos cousins.
‘Silver Satin’ pothos is a variety of the species Scindapsus pictus, whereas common pothos vines like ‘Golden Pothos’ and ‘Marble Queen’ are technically cultivars of Epipremnum aureum. All complicated Latin jargon aside, these beautiful evergreen houseplants are all members of the Arum plant family. They thrive in the bright, indirect light and room temperatures of most buildings and are among the easiest houseplants to grow.
If you’ve been wanting to brighten up your home or office with some air-purifying greenery, but you’re afraid that you don’t have a “green thumb,” Silver Pothos is the plant for you! They are beginner-friendly, low-maintenance plants that reward you with gorgeous foliage for little effort. With a few simple care tips, you’ll have Silver Satin Pothos weaving through your living space in no time. Let’s dig into the details of cultivating this tropical vine!
Silver Satin Pothos Plant Overview
Plant Type Tropical Houseplant
Species Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Satin’
Hardiness Zone USDA 10-12
Planting Season Any
Plant Height 4 inches – 10 feet Long Vines
Fertility Needs Low
Temperature 65-85 degrees
Container Pot or Hanging Basket
Soil Type Well-draining
Plant Spacing 6-12 inches or more
Watering Needs Moderate
Sun Exposure Bright Indirect Light
Lifespan 3-10 years
Pests Mealybugs, Thrips, Fungus Gnats
Diseases Root Rot
All About Silver Pothos
Pothos is a general term for evergreen tropical houseplants that are native to Southeast Asia. There are dozens and dozens of varieties of pothos that have been bred from wild types of Epipremnum and Scindapsus species.
They are sometimes collectively called “Devil’s Ivy” because they are remarkably resilient and difficult to kill. They are even invasive in some subtropical regions of the United States such as southern Florida.
From the vibrant yellow-splashed leaves of ‘Golden Pothos’ to the silvery-blue marbling of ‘Silver Satin’, pothos come in a diverse range of shapes, colors, and sizes. Fortunately, they all require similar care when grown as indoor potted plants.
What is Silver Pothos?
Silver Pothos, or ‘Silver Satin’ pothos, is a cultivar of Scindapsus pictus. Bred for its unique grey-to-silver variegation on the blue-green leaf surface, this pothos is slower growing than other pothos varieties because of less chlorophyll content (less green pigment) in the leaves. That being said, it is still very easy to care for and willingly grows lush hanging baskets or long winding vines when given a trellis.
Identification & Leaf Pattern
The ‘Silver Satin’ pothos is the most common variety of Silver Pothos, however, some people may refer to the ‘Silver Splash’ and ‘Silvery Anne’ varieties as “Silver Pothos” as well. ‘Silvery Anne’ has a much more creamy white marbling on a brighter green background, whereas ‘Silver Splash’ has larger splashed sections of deeper silver-grey on a dark green background. The ‘Silver Satin’ variety (which we’re primarily focusing on in this article) tends to be more speckled, almost like a giraffe print of light greyish-blue.
Where Does Silver Pothos Originate?
Scindapsus pictus is often called “silver vine” or “silk pothos.” In its native habitat of India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Java, and the Philippines, it can climb up to 10 feet tall or vine vigorously along the rainforest floor.
The heart-shaped leaves can grow up to 1 foot long in maturity, however, these plants typically remain in the juvenile stage when grown as a houseplant. The alternating leaf pattern (leaves grow in a zig-zag arrangement) and silver speckling make this evergreen vine very recognizable as it winds its way up rainforest trees.
Propagation and Planting
Even though it’s a different species than the common Epipremnum pothos, Silver Pothos (S. pictus) can be propagated and planted the same way. These plants tend to root readily in water, which makes multiplying your collection a breeze. Cuttings are simply pieces of a healthy stem that are cut and placed in water to grow new roots.
How to Propagate by Cutting
Because this plant never reaches maturity as a houseplant, it isn’t typically propagated by seed. Instead, most plants come from cuttings of other plants. You can easily take a cutting of your pothos and root it to multiply your plant collection for free!
Begin with sharp scissors, pruners, or a knife and sanitize the blade(s) with a diluted bleach solution. Next up, find a long healthy vine from your mother plant and count back 3-4 leaves from the tip of the vine. Locate the nodes by the fourth leaf. Nodes are little brownish nubs that grow out of the stem near where the leaves connect. These nubs are super important because that is exactly where new roots will develop.
Make a clean cut at a 45° angle and remove the lower 1-2 leaves before placing the cutting in a jar of water. At least two leaves should be above the water to photosynthesize while the baby plant develops new roots. Be sure that both nodes are under the water surface. It’s best to cut off any leaves that are submerged so that they don’t rot.
Place the jar near a window with bright indirect light and keep it warm. You can mist the leave a few times a week to add humidity as it develops roots. After a few weeks, you will begin to see white root hairs forming at the bottom of the cutting. Once these roots are a bit more robust (usually 1-2 months), transplant the cutting into a well-drained potting mix and grow alongside your other pothos!
How to Transplant Pothos
If you start to notice roots growing out of the drainage hole, it is a sign your pothos has overgrown their pot and needs to be up-potted. Transplanting Silver Pothos is a breeze. I do it about once a year to keep my plants as happy as possible.
Begin with a new pot or hanging basket that is about 1-2 inches larger than the size of the original. Fill it with a well-drained potting mix and dig out a bowl in the center that is about the size of your existing plant’s root ball.
Grasp your plant by the base of the stems and wiggle it out of the container, being careful not to disturb the roots. If the roots are rootbound (swirling around in a circle in the shape of its old pot), you can gently loosen them with your fingers or the tip of a pencil to help them more easily dig into their new soil home.
Place the plant in the new container and backfill the soil without tampering down. It’s important to keep the soil aerated and fluffy. Pressing down can cause the root zone to go anaerobic and lead to root rot, which you definitely don’t want. Keep the new soil line aligned with the original, with stems and leaves fully above the surface.
Water in your transplanted pothos with a diluted kelp solution to help with transplant shock. It can be placed in the same area as it was before and cared for in the same way. The same process can be used for transplanting cuttings as long as you make sure that the roots are pointed directly down (and not twisted upward or to the side).
Silver Pothos Care
Silver Pothos is a very beginner-friendly houseplant because its care is really straightforward and simple. It doesn’t require anything special and is pretty hands-off, even if you need to go on vacation for a week. That being said, your pothos will grow the fastest and look the best if you provide them with the best conditions possible.
The most common mistake people make when growing pothos is overwatering, followed by the second common mistake: you guessed it, underwatering! To get the perfect sweet spot of water for this tropical vine, imagine the wild conditions it would usually grow in.
Tropical regions have loose soil that drains very quickly. This is important because there are distinct dry seasons and wet seasons. When the monsoon rains come, that water needs to filter through the soil so that the pothos (and all of its rainforest comrades) are never sitting in soggy water puddles. In between those heavy rains, it tends to dry out a bit and it likes it that way.
This is the key secret to watering: plant in quality well-drained soil and let the soil dry out in the top 1-3 inches in between waterings. When the plant begins to wilt just a little bit (don’t wait until it’s completely starving for thirst, give it a deep watering until water flows out of the pot’s drainage hole. This ensures that the plant is never too thirsty or too soggy.
Depending on the conditions, your plant could need water every 1-2 weeks. Be sure to use room-temperature water. Poke your finger in the soil to check the soil moisture periodically.
Like I mentioned above, this plant loves that loose well-drained soil native to the tropics. To mimic this in your potted plants, use a high-quality potting mix amended with peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. I usually use a ratio of about 2 parts potting mix to 1 part perlite. This keeps water flowing through without getting waterlogged or soggy.
Pothos in general do not need much fertility. They are used to growing on the crowded rainforest floor in fairly leached soils. However, if you want to give your Silver Pothos a little extra boost during the main growing season, you can use a diluted fish and seaweed fertilizer solution to promote new growth and provide some extra nutrients. Be sure to dilute thoroughly or you may end up with a fertilizer-burned plant.
When it comes to temperature, room temps are usually best. Pothos enjoys anywhere between 60° and 90°F but prefers the medium range of 70° to 75°F. If it gets too cold (below 50°F), these fragile heat-loving plants will wither and probably die, so never keep pothos in an uninsulated room. It’s also best to keep this plant away from window drafts or cold air inlets from doors. It likes to be nice and cozy all season long.
As an under-canopy forest plant, pothos are not used to a bunch of harsh direct sunlight. It’s important to place your plant in an area with bright indirect sunlight that won’t scorch the leaves but still provide plenty of energy for photosynthesis. North or east-facing windows can be great spots for Silver Pothos. It can also be near a south-facing window as long as it is on a shelf or closer to the center of the room.
Too little sunlight will result in poorly variegated leaves. The color may start to dull and the silvery spots will fade. The plant will also grow much slower. It’s especially vulnerable to too little light because of its lower quantities of chlorophyll in the silver splashed parts of the leaf. On the flip side, too much sunlight will burn the leaves and cause brownish-yellow sunburnt spots.
These tropical natives love humidity and appreciate 40-50% relative humidity. The leaf tips will turn brown if there isn’t enough moisture in the air. If you live in a particularly dry area and have a lot of houseplants, consider turning on a humidifier to keep them extra happy.
Although S. pictus is very easy to cultivate, it isn’t immune to issues. The most common problems houseplant owners will find are some pesky bugs, yellowing leaves, leggy vines, or root rot. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy organic solutions to these problems.
Spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and fungus gnats are all little annoying bugs that can colonize your plant, albeit pretty rarely. They are often a sign of overwatering or stagnant conditions without enough airflow. To deal with them, simply use a diluted neem solution or horticultural oil on a soft towel and wipe down the leaf surface.
If you notice your Silver Pothos has yellow leaves, it’s probably getting too much water. Leaves may appear withered and even rotten in overwatered conditions. On the other hand, yellow leaves with crispy brown spots can be a sign of underwatering. Check the soil moisture regularly and remove any damaged yellow leaves.
Leggy or long vines without many leaves are typically signs of low light conditions. When pothos don’t get enough light, they tend to reach and wind for the sun. The plant may also just want some pruning. To encourage a more bushy growth habit and get rid of leggy vines, simply cut back the vines to 3-6” in length and use the pruned portions to root new cuttings. You’ll have loads of happy, fluffy pothos plants in no time.
Overwatering also puts pothos at risk of root rot. You will notice soggy soil conditions, wilted yellowing leaves, and potentially a foul musky smell. The plant needs to be transplanted immediately and you may need to cut off any rotten portions. If the rot is too far along, it’s best to scrap it and start from scratch with a new Silver Pothos or a cutting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any tricks to caring for this plant?
Caring for Scindapsus pictus (Silver Pothos) is fairly simple and very similar to other pothos plants. It prefers bright, indirect sunlight, well-drained soil, and time to dry out in between waterings.
Is silver satin pothos rare?
‘Silver Satin’ is a gem of a pothos plant that is widely available, yet very unique and rare in its appearance. The bluish-grey leaves are splashed with silver and make a dazzling display in any home. Look for this variety online or in a local garden store.
Why is my silver pothos dying?
The most common reasons for this plant dying early is either overwatering (an subsequent root rot) or not enough sunlight. Overwatering or soggy soil create perfect conditions for fungal pathogens to infect pothos roots. It is very important to plant it in well-drained soil and avoid overwatering.
Due to the coloring of the leaves, this plant is especially vulnerable to low light conditions because it does not have as much chlorophyll as its pothos cousins. Without enough light, it cannot photosynthesize and may die.
Where do you put silver pothos?
When grown as a houseplant, this plant prefers bright to moderate indirect sunlight year-round. Low light conditions will cause this plant to lose their beautiful variegation, whereas direct harsh sunshine will scorch the leaves.
Now that you are know all about the Silver Pothos, you can decide if it’s the right variety for you based upon it’s looks, and growth needs. This plant can make an excellent addition to any indoor gardening space and looks very unique compared to other plants as well. After reading this guide, you should have all the knowledge you need to plant, grow, and care for Silver Pothos plants!