How to Care for Scindapsus Pictus

About Scindapsus pictus


The satin Pothos or silver Philodendron (Scindapsus pictus) is a vining plant. You’ll see it sold in two different forms: either climbing, with the use of a moss pole, or hanging, with its long stems spilling downwards. 

I’m not surprised by the fact that this species has been gaining plenty of popularity as a houseplant in recent years. It’s pretty and pleasing to look at, with slightly satiny leaves and dark green coloration that’s interspersed with silver variegation. No wonder they called it “pictus”, which means “painted” in Latin!

Natural habitat

Scindapsus pictus is naturally found in Asia, where it has a pretty wide range, popping up as far west as India and as far east as the Philippines. It occurs in tropical rainforests, where it uses taller trees as support to help it climb towards the more brightly-lit forest canopy. 

Although you almost never see it growing like this in the home, in its natural habitat, the satin Pothos actually uses its small but powerful aerial roots to grow in a shingling manner. This means the leaves are very tightly pressed against the tree trunk, similar to something like Monstera dubia or Rhaphidophora hayi, two common shingling houseplants you may have heard of.

In areas where trees are lacking, Scindapsus pictus may also end up vining across the forest floor in search of a surface to climb.

Scindapsus vs. Epipremnum

Let’s address the bit that has confused houseplant enthusiasts around the world ever since Scindapsus pictus began to soar in popularity a few years ago.

What in the world is up with the naming of this plant?!

As we’ve discussed, common names for this Aroid include satin Pothos and silver Philodendron.

But let’s clear things up: as nice as these names sound, they’re technically incorrect. Scindapsus pictus is neither a Pothos (vining plants known scientifically as Epipremnum aureum) nor a Philodendron (another genus of tropical trailing plants). They look a lot alike, and they form part of the same family, but they’re not the same plants.

Scindapsus vs. heartleaf Philodendron

Another common houseplant that’s often confused with Scindapsus pictus is the heartleaf Philodendron, scientifically known as Philodendron hederaceum (although it sometimes goes by its synonym, Philodendron scandens). Remember, despite the fact that Scindapsus is often referred to as silver Philodendron, it’s not a Philodendron at all.

Although both are vining plants, you should be able to tell these two apart by looking at the foliage, just as with Pothos.

Scindapsus pictus varieties

As with many other popular houseplants, Scindapsus pictus has been selectively cultivated by nurseries to produce all sorts of different-looking varieties. These are known as cultivars, and there are a good few you may come across in your local plant store:

  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Silvery Ann’: Medium-sized leaves that are partially speckled, but also have larger patches of silver.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Splash’: Medium-sized leaves with extensive silver variegation that almost looks pixelated or applied with a paintbrush.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’: Large leaves with a green midrib and a lot of silver coloration, with solid areas that feather into speckling.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’: One of the original and common Scindapsus pictus varieties, with small leaves that are largely green with some silver speckling.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Jade Satin’: A cultivar with fully green leaves. There’s also a ‘Dark Jade Satin’, and, confusingly, even variegated forms with cream marbling.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Lady’: Medium-sized leaves with even green and silver coloration, almost like a camouflage pattern.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Tricolor’: One of the ‘fancier’ Scindapsus pictus varieties, with both light green and silver variegation. 
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Hero’: (Almost) fully silver leaves.
  • Scindapsus pictus ‘Mayari’: If you have a couple hundred dollars lying around, you can own this variety, which sports regular S. pictus leaf coloration interspersed with large blocks of cream.

Caring for Scindapsus pictus

Light and temperature

Light tends to be relatively scarce in this plant’s natural habitat due to taller trees blocking out the sun, which is the reason why it evolved to develop its natural climbing growth pattern in the first place.

Water and humidity

One of the nice things about Scindapsus pictus is that, although it likes its soil lightly moist, it’s not too fussy. I can’t tell you how often you should water yours, as that depends on factors like light, temperature, and the soil mix you’re using, but luckily it’s easy enough to figure it out by yourself.

To see if your Scindapsus pictus needs a drink, check how wet or dry the soil is. The easiest way is to just stick your finger in the planter: If the top layer of soil feels dry, you can give your plant a drink. If it’s still damp, wait a little longer to prevent root rot.

Your mileage may vary, but generally speaking, you’ll probably end up watering a little more than once a week during the summer growing months and about once every 10 to 12 days in winter.

As for humidity, although this species is a tropical, it should do fine in your home unless things get really dry. If the humidity levels regularly drop below 40 percent, your houseplants in general may benefit from the use of a humidifier.

Soil and planting

Like most Aroids, Scindapsus pictus will appreciate a relatively airy soil. The mixture should hold some moisture, but excess water needs to be able to drain freely. After all, although these plants like a drink, their roots become susceptible to rot if they’re constantly submerged.

If you have an Aroid soil mix on hand, you can use that. If not, making your own satin Pothos soil is as easy as mixing a normal houseplant potting soil with around 20 percent perlite.


If your Scindapsus pictus is chugging along nicely during the summer growing season, you can apply a normal liquid houseplant fertilizer on a monthly basis to further boost its growth. They’re not heavy feeders, but they do benefit from the application of some extra nutrients from time to time.

Be sure not to use fertilizer if your plant is inactive (during the winter months) or not doing well. It won’t be able to take up the nutrients, and they will end up damaging the roots rather than stimulating growth. 


Scindapsus pictus plants grown on a totem usually don’t have to be pruned, except maybe to remove the occasional dead leaf.

Dividing or repotting

In most cases, if you buy a silver Philodendron, it will consist of several rooted stems placed in the same planter. This means that, if you wish, you can divide it into several plants.

However, this isn’t really commonly done. Most people like a full look on their plant, and it’s so easy to take stem cuttings that division is really not needed anyway.

As such, if your Scindapsus pictus outgrows its planter, it’s usually preferable to just repot it. You can do so during springtime, moving up one pot size; be sure to give your plant some fresh soil as well.