Houseplants in the Scindapsus genus are some of my absolute favorites. They are beautiful, easy to care for, and the majority of the varieties we keep as houseplants are very affordable as well.
This post will go beyond some of the basic information about these houseplants to tell a deeper story for people who love and want to learn more about this plant as I did. And I’ll also include the basics too! 🙂
Table of Contents
- Where are Scindapsus found in the wild?
- How do Scindapsus species grow in nature?
- Background Info on the genus Scindapsus
- Interesting Scindapsus Facts
- How to Care for Scindapsus as a Houseplant
- Are Scindapsus houseplants pet-safe and kid-safe?
- Common Scindapsus Varieties
- Some Rare Scindapsus Varieties
- Related Posts
Where are Scindapsus found in the wild?
Plants in the Scindapsus genus are found in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Queensland, and New Guinea. They are rock and tree climbers, producing larger leaves as they climb.
Scindapsus pictus as been noted to change shape as it matures. The leaves will shift from the shape you see below (descibed as falcate) to pinnately-lobed.
I was unable to find a photo of what this mature leaf looks like, but I will insert a leaf morphology diagram so you can see the difference.
If you know of (or have taken) a photo of a mature Scindapsus picture, please share it with us. I would love to see one!
Image by Pancrat, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pennatilob%C3%A9.svg#/media/File:Pennatilob%C3%A9.svg
How do Scindapsus species grow in nature?
Scindapsus plants are epiphytic and epilithic, meaning that they grow up trees and across rocks. As I was researching I saw this description of Scindapsus pictus, which I thought was absolutely perfect:
Tree-hugger. Silvery on the edges. Loves Hawai’i, even though not native to that archipelago. I could be writing about myself, but all of these also apply to the ‘Argyraeus’ satin pothos in today’s photograph.Daniel Mosquin, UBD Botanical Website, https://botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/2019/01/scindapsus-pictus-argyraeus/
Here is Daniel Mosquin’s stunning photo (the author of the quote above), captured in Hawai’i:
As you can see in Mosquin’s photo, when Scindapsus species attach to something to climb, they take on a new way of growing. This behavior is called shingling, where the leaves lie flat against the growing surface.
As these plants climb higher, they become more mature. The more mature the plant becomes, the larger the leaves become and the leaf shape sometimes changes as well.
Some species have been noted to become longer and thinner; others have been seen to develop lobes on their margins.
Background Info on the genus Scindapsus
The Scindapsus genus is a part of the Araceae family, which is commonly known as the Aroid family – one of the most popular groups (if not THE most popular group) of houseplants worldwide in 2021.
The Aroid family is known for a type of flower/inflorescence called a spadix – which is the rod-like, almost corncob like structure you see in the picture below of Scindapsus sp.
Often the spadix is surrounded by a leaf-like structure called a spathe. The photo below is not a Scindapsus, but my Peace Lily (Spathiphylum wallisii ‘Domino’) that I wanted to include to show the spathe. You can see the white, leaf-like structure around the spadix, which is the spathe!
The name of the genus, Scindapsus, is derived from the Greek word skindapsos which has been translated to both “ivy-like plant” and “upon a tree.”
This description does a perfect job of describing how these plants are found growing naturally in the wild.
Interesting Scindapsus Facts
Scindapsus pictus varieties express a type of variegation called blister or reflective. This variegation is produced by air pockets forming between the outer leaf layer and the inner leaf layer (where chlorophyll is present). The air pockets create a shimmer when light reflects off of them.
Another species of Scindapsus has shown medicinal potential. Scindapsus officinalis is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diarrhea and worms. It is also being used in research to study its ability to control cancerous tumors and its antioxidant properties.
Scindapsus is one of many plants capable of purifying our air AND received the RHS Award of Garden Merit!
It is a fantastic plant for many reasons and one that I personally recommend hobbyists at any level to acquire.
How to Care for Scindapsus as a Houseplant
Light: Scindapsus species like bright, indirect light – this means they can tolerate small amounts of direct sunlight, but prefer high, indirect light for the majority of the day.
They will do well in East-facing windows, near West-facing windows, or pulled back from South-facing windows. They can tolerate lower light, but will not grow much.
Water: Because the leaves and stems of Scindapsus plants are fairly robust or succulent, they do not need to be watered immediately when dry.
I used to typically wait for the leaves to curl at the sides, showing signs that the plant is in need of water. It was a great way to learn Scindapsus care.
Now I try to water before the leaves curl, but after the potting mix is completely dry. I judge dryness based on how heavy the pot is. When its super light, I give it a good drink regardless of leaf curl.
I’ve found that some of the less common species do not always curl their leaves when thirsty, like Scindapsus treubii Dark Form. So it isn’t always a reliable indicator for me.
Potting mix: A fast-draining mix works well with this genus. Something with a lot of perlite, bark, or other additives for aeration is perfect. You could mix your own or use a cactus mix of some type. I use a combination of equal parts standard potting mix, perlite, and orchid bark.
Fertilizer: These plants like to be fertilized during the growing season. A well-balanced fertilizer at half strength will work. Or you could use a fertilizer that is higher in Nitrogen (the first number on the package) to support its foliage. Once per month is likely sufficient.
I prefer to use organic fertilizers so I do not need to worry about salt buildup damaging my plant. To learn more about fertilizers, click here to read my blog post.
Pot: Any pot that provides good drainage will work well. I house most of my Scindapsus in terracotta because the pot itself helps to absorb excess water from the soil. However, other pot mediums (provided they have ample drainage holes) can be fine as well.
Are Scindapsus houseplants pet-safe and kid-safe?
No, Scindapsus species are toxic to kids and pets.
To look up more plants, check out my blog post detailing the safety of many common houseplants.
Common Scindapsus Varieties
- Scindapsus pictus
Scindapsus pictus is a very common houseplant available for sale. It’s care is identical to the standard pothos (Epipremnum aureum), making it a very easy plant.
Its epithet, pictus, means painted, which it earned due to the gorgeous, silvery patches of variegation that are splashed across its leaves.
There are four common varieties available for purchase. I will include pictures and a brief description of each below.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’ (commonly called Satin Pothos)
‘Argyraeus’ is the most common variety. The name means silvery, used to describe the variegation on the leaves.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’
‘Exotica’ is another common variety, known for its larger leaves and more intense variegation and the variegated edging around each leaf.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Satin’
‘Silver Satin’ leaf’s shape is very similar to ‘Exotica,’ but the amount of variegation on each leaf is less. Exotica’s leaves are more splash than not down the center with a variegated edging; Silver Satin has more erratic splashes and speckles across each leaf with no variegated edging.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Silvery Ann’ (commonly called Silvery Ann Pothos or Silver Pothos)
‘Silvery Ann’ has the leaf size and form that is similar to ‘Argyraeus’, but the leaves have much more variegation. The leaves are commonly at least half covered in silvery sheen with speckling or splashes on the remaining portion.
- Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’ (commonly called Satin Pothos)
The pictures above are my Scindapsus pictus in this order: ‘Argyraeus,’ ‘Exotica,’ ‘Silvery Ann,’ and ‘Silver Satin.’
Some Rare Scindapsus Varieties
There is only one rare species of Scindapsus that I have seen available in the houseplant market here in the United States, which is Scindapsus treubii. Because it is rare, it isn’t something I’ve ever seen in a store near me, but only from online vendors.
There is also another species that I only realized some people keep in other parts of the world by accident. That plant is Scindapsus hederaceus and I will detail the information I could find about this beautiful plant below.
The last plant I researched in this section is the one that I find most confusing. It seems to be a variety of Scindapsus pictus called ‘Jade Satin.’ Whereas all of the other varieties of Scindapsus pictus are fairly available for purchase and are pretty easy to research, this one is not.
I will give you the little information I could find on these plants but would LOVE to know more. So if you happen to be someone who knows more about any of these plants or has resources that provide better information, please send it my way!
Update as of 1/12/2020 – I recently became aware of another cultivar of Scindapsus pictus called ‘Silver Lady’ that is absolutely stunning and I will add below!
Update as of 8/3/2020 – Information about white variegated Scindapsus and ‘Silver Hero’ or ‘Platinum’ cultivar added below!
Update as of 1/29/2021- I have become aware of several Scindapsus that I can’t find information about, but will add pictures so you can see them too! Scindapsus sp blue, Scindapsus offinalis, Scindapsus sp sumatra (which might be the same as officinalis?), Scindapsus lucens, and another pictus variety called Silver Shield, Mint, and a jade satin with yellow variegation.
Scindapsus treubii is currently available in 2 varieties, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Dark Form.’ The leaf-shape of S. treubii is narrower than the S. pictus varieties, but still maintains an asymmetrical hook at the end. It isn’t as obvious of a hook though, at least in the plants I’ve seen.
‘Moonlight’ has a milky-green leaf color with a silver splash down the middle of the leaf following the vein.
‘Dark Form’ has a nearly black appearance without the silver variegation. This one is the least accessible currently in the United States.
Everything I can find online regarding care says that this one can be cared for identically to Scindapsus pictus, though I will tell you I have been struggling a bit with my own Scindapsus treubii ‘Moonlight.’
The photo of the S. treubii ‘Moonlight’ above is mine. This one was shipped to me and I have read these do struggle after shipping for many people. So maybe the struggle I am seeing with my plant isn’t uncommon. Maybe once it has been in my home for more time it will be easy to care for like the other Scindapsus I own. I’ll update this post as I know more!
If you have any care tips or experiences, let me know!
Scindapsus hederaceus is described as being quite similar in appearance to Scindapsus officinalis – which isn’t commonly kept as a houseplant (to my knowledge) but is used in medicine! We will discuss S. officinalis in more detail below.
S. hederaceus has shiny, green leaves and is native to Thailand, Indo-China, and Malesia. It has been found in forests climbing trees and rocks.
I couldn’t find any information regarding care or availability, but perhaps we will be seeing more of this plant in the next few years as interest in rarer Scindapsus species increases.
Scindapsus pictus ‘Jade Satin’
This plant has dark, thick green leaves with a bit of a sheen (from what I can tell from the few pictures and videos online). It is rarely available, but is a prolific grower just like the other varieties of Scindapsus pictus.
The only information I was able to obtain was its care – which is the same as Scindapsus pictus at large: bright, indirect light; water when dry; well-draining soil; and fertilize with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
Update as of 2/11/2020: I found a Scindapsus pictus ‘Jade Satin’ a couple months ago! It is a small specimen, but gorgeous and healthy. I wait for the leaves to curl before watering like my other Scindapsus. It seems to be doing well! Here is a picture of the largest leaf!
Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Lady’
I’m so glad I stumbled across the ‘Silver Lady’ because it is stunning! This particular variety has one of my favorite patterns of variegations of all the S. pictus I’ve seen so far. It’s leaves are large, like ‘Exotica’ and ‘Silver Satin,’ but the variegation is unique and unlike the others. It’s almost the reverse pattern of Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus.’
Scindapsus pictus ‘Silver Hero’ or ‘Platinum’
“This plant was discovered in a private garden to have exceptional silver-grey colored crystalline leaves that shimmer when tilted at an angle under light. The name ‘Platinum’ was chosen because both platinum and this plant are metallic silver-grey in color and rare in nature.”
from the International Aroid Society, http://www.aroid.org/cvwiki/index.php/Scindapsus_pictus_%E2%80%98Platinum%E2%80%99#:~:text=This%20plant%20was%20discovered%20in,color%20and%20rare%20in%20nature.
White Variegated Scindapsus pictus
I’ve seen two different cultivars of Scindapsus that have white variegation. The first is a white variegated Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’ I believe. The second is a white variegated Scindapsus pictus ‘Jade Satin.’ I could not find a picture of the real variegated Scindapsus pictus ‘Exotica’ that I could legally add to this post. As soon as I have one, I will add it though!
I did find a picture of the variegated ‘Jade Satin’ and a wonderful piece of art that shows all of the difference Scindapsus varieties that I am aware of in one graphic.
S. sp. Blue
S. sp. Sumatra
S. sp. Silver Shield
S. sp. Mint
S. pictus Jade Satin with Yellow Variegation (possibly aurea variegata?)
Do you know of other varieties I am missing? Send them my way in the comments or via email! 🙂
Resources used for this article: