The satin pothos, or Scindapsus pictus, is a tropical evergreen vining houseplant related to pothos plants (Epipremnum aureum), and is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and care for
The visible difference between the satin pothos and other pothos is the variegation on the leaves. The satin pothos has heart-shaped leaves with silvery gray splotches that give them an iridescent look.
One of the most common problems encountered by satin pothos owners is when their plants’ leaves start to curl, indicating stress caused by one or more changes in the plant’s environment.
The most common causes of curling satin pothos leaves are underwatering, too much fertilizer, temperature changes, poor water quality, incorrect lighting, pests, and low humidity.
This article will discuss each of these causes and what you can do to resolve them. So, if you are having this problem with your own satin pothos, read on to learn how to fix it.
Why are the leaves of my satin pothos curling?
Underwatering is one of the most common causes of curling leaves on your satin pothos, and it can be easily prevented.
Water helps to keep the plant’s cells turgid and thus to preserve its structure. When the plant is dehydrated, its cells shrink, and if it is deprived of moisture for too long, its leaves will curl, wilt, and eventually die.
Plants do not need water just for the hydration it provides; water also acts as a vessel to transport nutrients and minerals from the soil to the roots of the plant. Thus, it is a lack of water as well as essential nutrients which double up to cause the curling and drying of the plant’s leaves.
If you notice curling in some of your satin pothos’ leaves, take it as your cue to check the moisture in the soil. Stick your finger into the soil and, if the soil near the bottom of the pot is dry, you might have forgotten to water your satin pothos by several days.
Water the plant immediately by soaking the soil until the excess flows out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
Avoid underwatering your satin pothos again by regularly checking the soil’s moisture. If the top two inches are dry to the touch, water the plant; if the soil is still damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.
Too much fertilizer
If the satin pothos receives an excessive amount of nutrients, its leaves will begin to curl. Many people are too eager when it comes to fertilizing their plants, and ironically this overfeeding causes poor plant growth. Too much unused fertilizer turns into mineral salts in the soil, and this buildup causes soil toxicity and root burn.
Signs of an overfed satin pothos include smaller leaves, discolored foliage in a darker shade of green or yellow, and downward-curling leaf tips.
You can remedy overfertilization by flushing the soil to get rid of the excess fertilizer. Pour water into the soil until all of it is soaked and water is flowing out of the drainage holes. Wait for it to stop dripping and repeat the process again four times, making sure to allow the water to finish dripping between each cycle.
Flush the soil every couple of days until the plant has fully recovered. If, despite flushing multiple times, there is no sign of recovery, you might have to repot your plant in fresh soil.
Keep your satin pothos’ foliage and variegation looking its best by feeding it just once a month from spring to fall, with small amounts of well-diluted fertilizer.
Temperature stress can also cause leaf curling in your satin pothos. When the plant is exposed to too much heat, its leaves will curl inward.
Pothos plants thrive best in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below or above this range will stress your plant, so try to keep it in an area where the temperature is consistent and easily controlled.
Direct sunlight should also be avoided, as it can cause leaf burn. Keep the plant in a spot that gets bright but indirect light, such as near a north- or east-facing window.
Also keep it away from heating or air conditioning vents, because the hot and cold drafts will dry out the foliage.
If you keep your plant outdoors, remember to bring it inside before the temperature drops significantly at the start of autumn.
Poor water quality
Another cause of curling leaves in your satin pothos is giving it only tap water. Tap water contains high concentrations of chlorine, sodium, and fluoride, which attach themselves to the soil when exposed to sunlight.
Over time, these substances form harmful salts around the roots, interfering with effective water and nutrient absorption. Without water and nutrients, the plant weakens, its leaves wilt and curl, and its growth is stunted.
Water your satin pothos with rain water or filtered water instead, since these do not contain chlorine, sodium, or fluoride. If you do not have access to filtered water, collect tap water and let it stand for 24 hours in a sealed container. The chlorine and fluoride will dissipate from the water and it can then be safely used on your houseplants.
The curling of your plant’s leaves can also be due to incorrect lighting.
Pay attention to the direction in which the leaves are curling to determine whether it is getting too much or not enough light.
Too much light exposure is characterized by inward or downward curling leaves, while insufficient light will have leaves curling upward and in the direction of the nearest light source.
If your satin pothos is getting too much light, move it to a spot where it only gets bright, indirect light. If all the windows in your home let in harsh light, hang a sheer curtain over them to diffuse the intensity.
Conversely, if your satin pothos is not getting enough light, move it to a sunnier spot to resolve the problem.
You will know when the plant is receiving the proper level of light when its leaves remain uncurled, flat, and face upwards.
Pests can feed on your satin pothos and suck the juice from its foliage. This dries out the leaves and you may notice inward curling as a result.
The satin pothos is more susceptible than other pothos plants to mealybugs and spider mites. Signs of a pest infestation include brown or black spots on the leaves and vines, small webs from spider mites, and the presence of the pests themselves.
If you spot an infestation, move the plant to a different part of the house immediately to quarantine it and prevent any possible spread to your other plants.
Wipe down the plant with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol or neem oil. This treatment kills the pests and may prevent an infestation from returning. Repeat the treatment every three days until you are certain that all the pests have been eradicated.
As a preventative measure, check your satin pothos regularly for pests and clean the leaves occasionally with rubbing alcohol to keep them at bay.
The satin pothos is a tropical plant that enjoys humidity. If you live in a dry climate, the moisture in the plant’s leaves will evaporate at a faster rate and the leaves can therefore dry out very quickly. The drying leaves will start to curl, and this can only be resolved by increasing the humidity around the plant.
Mist the plant with water when its leaves show signs of dehydration. Only do this during the day, so that the water droplets evaporate from the leaves’ surface before the temperature drops in the evening, otherwise, you risk encouraging fungal growth.
Group your humidity-loving plants with your satin pothos so that, as a group, they raise the humidity level around themselves.
You can also place a water pebble tray under the plant’s pot so that as the water evaporates from the tray, it moistens the air around the plant.
Finally, if you have the means, you can buy a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity in the room where you keep your plant.
The satin pothos is a beautiful, low-maintenance, tropical-vining houseplant native to Southeast Asia.
Despite this plant being very easy to grow and care for, there are certain environmental factors that can cause its leaves to curl, which is an indication of stress. The most probable causes of this problem are underwatering, too much fertilizer, temperature changes, poor water quality, incorrect lighting, pests, and low humidity. The sooner you can identify which factor is causing the problem, the sooner you can get your satin pothos on the road to full recovery.
Image: istockphoto.com / Firn