Silver Philodendron (Scindapsus pictus) Plant Care Guide

Silver Philodendron is a popular and delightful plant to grow, and the name is part of various Scindapsus plants grown as indoor plants. Some call it a Satin Pothos, though it’s not a pothos nor a philodendron. The confusion of the names started from misclassification over a century ago in 1842. The names suck in the general horticulture circles and never changed.

silver philodendron plant

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Botanical NameScindapsus pictus
Common NameSatin Pothos, Silver Pothos, Silver Philodendron
SizeUp to 10 feet
DifficultyEasy
Pet FriendlyToxic
Air CleanerYes

Silver Philodendron Origin

These plants are native to the tropical forests of the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Java, Thailand and Sumatra, and also native to the Pacific Islands, New Guinea and Queensland. Greek “skindapsos” is the name of the genus, indicating a climber akin to ivy. The Latin “pictus” means painted because of the grey markings on the leaves. 

The different varieties of silver philodendrons (Scindapsus pictus) show various ranges of silvery-white spots. Some even have entirely white leaves. Air pockets developing under the surface of the leaves cause the white markings to form. It renders a shimmering effect from the sunlight, creating a distinct silver and green foliage. 

These plants climb rocks and trees in nature, showing some rare behaviors, like producing larger leaves higher in the plant or having the leaves lay flat against a rock or tree. These plants are happy in homes and offices. The silver philodendron thrives well in a hanging basket, with the vines forming a cascade of silver and green leaves. 

How to Care for Silver Philodendron

Owning a silver philodendron is not only fulfilling because they are not picky plants and are easy to care for, but their soft, silver and green spotted leaves are stunning. Follow these care tips to ensure these beauties have a long and healthy life. 

Caring for Scindapsus plants is amazingly similar to growing pothos and philodendron plants. Most likely the cause for these unusual ornamentals to have such contrasting names. 

Light and Temperature

In their native habitat, the silver philodendron thrives in dappled shady locations on rocks or climbing along trunks of trees. With that in mind, pick a place with bright, indirect sunlight for optimum growth in the home. 

North and south-facing windows work best but keep the leaves away from the window pane because it will burn the leaves. Growers must ensure these houseplants are always in filtered light, not excessive direct light. 

Temperatures range from 65 to 75° Fahrenheit, leaning more toward higher than lower temperatures. Anything below 50° Fahrenheit, the plants will not survive. 

Humidity plays a vital role in proper growth. The sliver philodendrons do well when humidity levels range from 30 to 50 percent. Spraying quality water gently over the foliage every couple of days helps ensure proper humidity throughout the growing season. Or place a bowl of water nearby to keep the air moisture. 

Water

Growers use their fingers to test the plants’ soil before watering because silver philodendrons require less moisture than other tropical plants. However, these houseplants let their owners know if they don’t have sufficient water — leaves curl under, and the soil is bone dry. With that, if the top layer of the potting mix feels dry, water these plants. 

The most effective way to water is to soak gently the surface until the water drains out the holes in the container. Monitor these plants, observing that the plants’ size, container and indoor conditions determine when and how often to water. Drier and warmer conditions require frequent watering. 

Never let the silver philodendrons become waterlogged — less watering is better than over watering. 

Fertilization

Silver philodendrons are hardy plants, meaning that excessive fertilization is unnecessary and will cause chemical burns if done. Use weak, balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) diluted to half the strength. 

Fertilize these houseplants in the spring and summer once a month. If the edges of the leaves show burn marks, stop feeding. If the silver philodendrons show over-fertilization, flush the potting mix well. 

Flowering

Indoor silver philodendrons most likely will not produce flowers, but in nature, an inflorescence forms with a greenish spadix, where flowers grow surrounded by a green spathe. The inflorescence has fruit berries and then kidney-shaped seeds. 

Pruning

To find out if the silver philodendron needs pruning is by perceiving a long leggy look but not bushy. Maintaining a bushy and full plant than a long vine plant is noticeably more attractive. 

Prune spring or early summer. In fact, pruning off and on during the year works thanks to these plants growing fast and needing to keep their healthy form.

Use sterilized and sharp pruning shears and cut the oldest and longest leaves and stems looking yellow or too long for an indoor plant. Cut where the stems connect to the central area.

Individual stems can grow beneath the potting soil, so cut at the baseline for those. After finishing the pruning, watering the plants is a good idea.

Repotting

Roots poking out of the top of the soil and through the planter’s drainage holes mean it’s time to find a new home for the plant. Pick only a slightly larger pot, about an inch bigger, when repotting a silver philodendron. If the container is too large, the houseplant will drown in water at each watering.

Mid-spring and early summer are the best times to repot houseplants. That way, these beauties have enough time to acclimate to the new home before temperatures drastically change in the fall. Repotting is also the best time to add some fresh planting mix to the silver philodendron. Use a rich in nutrients and well-draining soil so that these plants can thrive. 

Pests

One reason these Scindapsus pictus plants are so easy to care for is that they rarely have common houseplant pests. The two insects that may bother these plants are scales and spider mites. 

Treatment requires a homemade solution with neem oil. Combine two teaspoons of neem oil, one teaspoon of dish soap and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray the infected foliage once every week until all evidence of the little buggers is nil. 

Inspect the silver philodendrons regularly for pests to ensure they remain insect-free. Here is what to look for:

Spider mites have web-like strands that hang from the stems and leaves. A severe infestation shows webbing at the stem joints and under the leaves. Tiny red or white bugs show up under the foliage. 

Scale insects look like tiny brownish bumps or foreign growths on the stems. The little buggers appear not to move, but they are busy sucking juices from the Scindapsus plants. A clean, dry cloth or cotton swaps dipped in rubbing alcohol will remove these pests besides the above solution. 

Diseases

Another reason these silver philodendrons are so simple to care for is because they rarely have diseases. Root rot is the only disease that stands out, which only happens when growers overwater them. The roots rot when they sit in their wet potting mix for too long. The excess moisture causes fungal infections and decay in the root system. If the foliage turns black and mushy, the houseplants have root rot. 

To avoid this disease, let the potting mix partially dry before watering it again. 

If one of these plants shows signs of root rot, stop watering the Scindapsus pictus and let the soil completely dry out. It might be better to replace the potting mix with fresh, dry soil. When the root decay is extensive, growers need to salvage the healthy stem cuttings and propagate a new plant. Then, discard the unhealthy and diseased part of the silver philodendron. 

How to Propagate Silver Philodendrons

The best time to propagate by stem cuttings is during the spring or growing months, when the plants grow the most. Use a pair of sharp, sterilized pruning shears and cut a five to 6-inch length of stem with three nodes. Cut below the node and trim any lower leaves. 

Rinse the cuttings in a sink and place them in a glass jar filled with fresh, filtered water. If the cuttings are too short and sink to the bottom, use wire or zip ties to help keep them in position. 

Place the cuttings in bright, indirect light. Check them daily and add fresh water if it’s lower to compensate for the evaporation. When the water becomes milky, cloudy or looks discolored, change it to fresh, filtered water. Also, rinse the cuttings thoroughly. 

Roots appear within a few weeks to more than a month. When the roots grow about one-half inch long, transfer the new plant to a container with fresh potting oil. These plants are not mature yet, so watch them regularly. 

Some growers keep the cuttings in water, which is fine, though watch them and ensure the roots don’t rot. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Silver Philodendron rare?

Deforestation makes it rare to find a silver philodendron in its natural habitat. However, they are very common indoor plants. 

Is Silver Philodendron a pothos? 

No, they are not, though strikingly, thrive under relatively the same kind of care. Both have leaves that are heart-shaped and come from Southeast Asia rainforests. They are tolerant plants that anyone can grow, including brown thumbs. 

The variegation of each plant is very different. Silver philodendron has silvery-white, gray splotches with a glittering sheen. At the same time, the photos have yellow, white or pale green. Silver philodendrons have more textured leaves and are thicker than pothos. 

Scindapsus pictus has matted-tone leaves, while the pothos range from deep green to bright green to neon green. Scindapsus grows as an epiphyte, growing four to 10 feet long when mature. The pothos plants are scrambler climbers, reaching 13 to 40 feet wide and six to eight inches high when mature. 

Pothos grow faster than silver philodendrons. During the growing season, pothos increase 12 to 18 inches per month. Scindapsus plants are slightly slower and have marginally thicker stem vines, while pothos has more slender stems. 

Does silver philodendron grow fast?

These houseplants are slow to moderate growers. If they are in low light, they grow even slower. In fact, silver philodendrons need repotting every three to five years. 

Is Silver Philodendron toxic to pets? 

The whole plant contains toxic substances, mainly calcium oxalate, and can cause dermatitis, itching, burning and pain. There are also severe consequences if chewed and ingested by cats, dogs and horses. 

Final Thoughts

Silver philodendrons are native to the humid, tropical forests of Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, New Guinea and Queensland. They are popular and delightful plants to grow, and the name is part of various Scindapsus plants grown as indoor plants. Some growers call them Satin Pothos, though they’re not a pothos nor a philodendron.

These beauties show various ranges of silvery-white splotches — some having white leaves. They climb rocks and trees in nature and cascaded beautifully in hanging plants.

Silver philodendrons are not picky plants, and beginners can easily care for them by following these plant care tips to ensure these houseplants have a long and healthy life.

Be sure to check out all of our Plant Care Guides!

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