Despite its name, the satin pothos is not a pothos at all. Rather, it is a variety of the Scindapsus pictus family. Its common name is satin pothos because the shape of its leaves is quite similar to that of pothos leaves. The plant also has silver-speckled variegation on its leaves that gives it its unique look.
The cultural needs of satin pothos are also similar to those of pothos plants, which is another reason people think they are pothos plants. This is a relatively low-maintenance plant that looks great in any living space.
In this article, we will discuss the proper cultural care of the satin pothos, and how to correctly propagate it. So, if you are thinking about adding this plant to your collection, keep reading to learn more about it.
Satin pothos care
1. Water requirements
There is no universal watering schedule for satin pothos owners to follow. There are several factors that affect the speed at which the plant’s soil dries out, and you need to take all of these into account. They include the climate where you live, the season of the year and the current weather conditions. Thus, in summer in a warm climate, with little to no rainfall, you will have to water your satin pothos more frequently than someone who lives in a cold climate, during winter, with lots of snow or rain.
The best way to determine whether your satin pothos needs to be watered is by touching the top two inches of soil in the pot. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still a bit damp, wait one or two days and check it again.
You might be underwatering your plant if the leaves start to droop and curl, so make sure you do not allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Never overwater your satin pothos either, because this can lead to the roots drowning and dying. The dead roots will start to rot and will become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens, and these will exacerbate the spread of the rot to the rest of the plant. Before you know it, the entire plant will be taken over by the rot and will have a very slim chance of recovering.
If you suspect that your plant is overwatered, remove it from the pot and wash off as much of the old soil as possible. Inspect the roots closely and cut off all the brown and black parts, as these are rotten. Use sterilized scissors to do this, and make sure that only healthy, white roots remain. Spray the healthy roots with fungicide and let them air-dry for several hours. Once the roots are dry, you can plant the satin pothos in a new pot, using fresh potting mix.
Make sure the pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom and that the soil is well-draining.
2. Light requirements
The satin pothos likes bright, indirect light and should not be placed under direct sunlight, because this can lead to sun damage. The plant is also able to tolerate low light conditions, but if you want the leaves to be vibrant, nothing is better than bright, indirect light.
North- and east-facing windows are ideal positions, but if the only window available is one that lets in harsh light, you can diffuse the light by placing a sheer curtain over the window.
During the winter, when light is scarce, help your plant get its daily dose of light by installing grow lights. Place the lights far away from the plant in the beginning, bringing them gradually closer until you find the sweet spot that is best for the plant.
If you are growing the plant outdoors, keep it under a garden net or under a large tree so that only dappled light reaches it.
3. Humidity requirements
Because this plant is native to the Asian tropics, it appreciates a humid environment, but it can also tolerate normal household humidity.
You can help the plant out by keeping it in the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room, since these are the most humid parts of the house. You can also mist the leaves in the morning to help moisten them. Remember only to mist in the morning, because letting water droplets sit on the leaves overnight will encourage the growth of unwanted fungi.
Use a pebble tray filled with water under the plant’s pot. As the water evaporates, it will moisten the soil in the pot and the plant’s leaves.
You can also place the plant next to other plants that like humidity, so that together they can create a microclimate to help each other out.
If you have the means, you can also just buy a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity in the room.
4. Temperature requirements
The satin pothos does well in room temperature if kept indoors. If the plant is kept outside, remember to take it in before winter starts because it cannot tolerate frost.
As long as the temperature around the plant does not enter the extremes, you should have no problem.
Refrain from placing the plant in the path of warm or cold drafts. That means keeping it away from heating vents and air conditioners. The warm or cold drafts will quickly dry out the plant’s leaves, which is not what you want.
5. Potting requirements
A well-draining potting mix is all this plant needs. If you are not sure whether your potting mix is sufficiently well-draining, just add perlite or coarse sand into the mix. These components will make the soil more airy, porous and well-draining, and will allow air and water to flow freely through the potting medium.
Use a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom so that excess water can flow out. Try not to use steel or plastic pots, because these materials are not porous and will seal in moisture too well, which can lead to root rot. Choose clay or terracotta pots, because these will allow air and water to penetrate them.
The main goal is to prevent overwatering, hence preventing fatal root rot.
6. Fertilizer requirements
This plant does not need to be fertilized; as long as the soil is rich, the plant will grow well no matter what. But, if you want to boost the plant’s growth, you can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer, while the plant is growing actively.
Avoid feeding the plant in the winter because this can lead to mineral buildup and soil toxicity.
7. Repotting the plant
This plant does tend to grow quite fast, so you will need to be vigilant about the possibility of it becoming rootbound. If roots start to grow out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, or if the plant’s growth seems to be slowing or stunted, your plant is probably rootbound.
You may need to repot this plant once a year because of how fast it grows. Do this during the spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing. This is because repotting is a traumatic experience for the plant, and during its growing season it will recover much faster.
When choosing a new pot, only go one size up. A pot that is too big will hold more soil, and the more soil in the pot, the more moisture is retained. This can lead to overwatering and possible root rot.
Satin pothos propagation
Propagation in soil
- Method 1
For the first method, cut a stem a quarter of an inch below a node using a sterilized pair of scissors. The cutting should include several leaves and at least one node. The node is important because this is where the new roots will sprout from. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting.
Plant the cutting in a small pot with moistened potting mix. At least one node should be buried under the soil. Place the pot where the cutting can get plenty of bright, indirect light.
You can place a plastic bag over the plant to lock in moisture and humidity, but do not forget to remove the bag once a day for a few minutes to let the plant get fresh air.
After four weeks, check the root growth by gently tugging on the cutting. If you can feel some resistance, that means the roots are well-established and you can now care for the new plant the way you would a regular plant.
- Method 2
For this method, you will also need to cut off a stem that is several inches long using sterile scissors. Make sure there are multiple nodes on the cutting, because instead of planting the cutting upright, you will be laying the stem horizontally on the potting mix with all the nodes facing down. Make sure the potting mix is moist but not soggy. You can fasten the stem onto the potting mix using paper clips or bobby pins if necessary.
Place the container in a spot where it can get bright, indirect light. You can put a clear plastic bag over the container to lock in moisture, but remember to remove the plastic bag once a day for a few minutes so that the plant can get fresh air.
After a few weeks, each node on the stem should have grown roots. You can test this by tugging gently on the vine. If there is resistance, that means that the roots are well-established and you can now care for the plant as you would a regular plant.
Propagation in water
Take a sterilized pair of scissors and cut a vine from the parent plant that is at least a few inches long. There should be at least one node on the cutting. The node is important because this is where the new roots will sprout from. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting.
Place the cutting in a glass of water, making sure the node is submerged. Place the jar where it can get plenty of bright, indirect light. Change the water in the jar when it starts to look murky, and refill it if it starts to get too low.
After a few weeks, the roots will be several inches long and you can transfer the cutting to a pot with moistened, well-draining potting mix. You can then care for the plant the same way you would a regular plant.
The satin pothos is a vining plant with leaves that are speckled with silver. It is a great choice as decor for any living space, because of how vibrant it is. It is low-maintenance, easy to propagate and quite hardy.
This plant likes bright, indirect light and only needs to be watered when the top two inches of soil are dry. It likes humid conditions, does well in room temperature, and needs repotting once a year and minimal feeding.
You can propagate the plant by planting a cutting upright in potting mix, planting the cutting horizontally on the potting mix to allow multiple nodes to root, or letting the cutting root in a jar of water before transferring it to a pot with moistened potting mix. After the plants have established roots in their own individual pots, they can then be cared for as you would a regular, mature plant.
Image: istockphoto.com / Firn