Silver philodendron is one of the common names for a popular variety of scindapsus pictus often grown as a houseplant.
The plant is also known as Satin Pothos, though it is neither a pothos nor a philodendron. The confusing names came from misclassification many years ago. That led to the names sticking in popular horticulture.
Today, we know that many of the common names are, in fact, varieties rather than unique cultivars.
What is a Silver Philodendron?
Its scientific name refers to the natural habit of climbing rocks and trees. Varieties of silver philodendron exhibit different levels of silvery-white spots. Some types have entirely white leaves. The spots are the result of air pockets that develop beneath the surface of the leaf. This results in a shimmering effect in sunlight, giving the plant its distinctive silver and green foliage.
In nature, this plant climbs rocks and trees, exhibiting rare behaviors, including laying the leaves flat against the structure and growing larger leaves higher up the plant. In the United States, the silver spotted philodendron is most often grown as a houseplant. It grows well in a hanging basket, where its vines become a waterfall of silver and green leaves.
Identifying the Common Varieties
There are several common and rare varieties of silver leaf philodendron on the market today.
Below are some of the most popular and sought-after types:
- Exotica: This is a common type and frequently labeled as silver philodendron or satin pothos. It has large, 2-inch leaves with bright silver-white splotches and matte green leaves.
- Argyraeus: This is another popular variety that has smaller, flatter leaves. The silver splotches are less numerous than the exotica varieties.
- Silvery Ann: A newer breed, the Silvery Ann has almost entirely silver leaves that are particularly shimmery in the light.
- Platinum: This one was discovered in a private garden. Its leaves are brilliantly shiny. This variety is exceedingly rare in the trade, so count yourself fortunate if you find this silver plant.
- Silver Satin: Unique variations are seen on this variety. It has two different shades of silver against a minty matte green. This variety is growing in popularity due to its uncommon leaves but is still challenging to locate.
How to Care for Silver Philodendron
Caring for scindapsus varieties is strikingly similar to Pothos and Philodendron plants’ care requirements, which is part of the reason these unique ornamentals have such confusing names.
We’ll explore silver leaf philodendron care and learn what to do when repotting, propagating, and readying your plant for changing seasons.
– Plant Propagation
Though it is possible to find seeds for silver philodendron occasionally, these are rare and are among the least effective ways to start a new plant.
Most gardeners in the U.S. interested in growing this tropical species will have the most success by taking a cutting to propagate their new ornamental plant.
By following these simple steps, you can quickly learn to propagate lots of plants, including the rarest varieties of silver spotted philodendron.
Making Silver Philodendron Cuttings for Propagation
The best time to plan on reproducing your silver plant through cuttings is in the spring, when growth is starting to take off again. To make a successful cutting, you’ll need to take the correct part of the plant. The best way to do this is to select a growing vine that has several leaves. You can take all of the vines if your plant is looking bare near the soil or leave growing parts that are doing well and only take main vines.
Use sharp, sterile scissors to cut the vines cleanly. A sharp knife also works well for making sure you don’t damage the plant when you cut it. Rinse the vines in the sink, then place them into a glass jar filled with water, ensuring that the vine is submerged but not the leaves and stems.
You can use zip ties or wire ties for plants to bundle the vine together and help it stay underwater at all times. Place your new cuttings in bright, indirect light and check the water daily. You should be able to add water to offset evaporation. If the water gets cloudy, milky, or looks discolored, you should change it, making sure to wash the vining part of the plant thoroughly.
Roots will appear some time within a few weeks up to more than one month. Once the roots are about one-half inch long, you can transfer the new plant to soil. It’s also possible to grow these plants in water, but keep an eye out for rot.
– Soil Conditions
These plants are not particularly picky about soil types, but they will do best in rich, organic potting soil that drains well. Since most gardeners grow silver leaf philodendron indoors, you need to ensure the plant has proper nutrition and the correct size pot to prevent health problems.
A good silver philodendron soil is made of equal parts potting soil, peat or sphagnum moss, and perlite or charcoal. This mix will typically provide good drainage, adequate water retention, and plenty of nutrients.
– Fertilizer Requirements
These hardy plants don’t require excessive fertilizer and will quickly show signs of chemical burning when you overdo it. It’s best to use a weak, balanced fertilizer and dilute it to half strength.
Only fertilize in the spring and summer once per month and stop feeding if you see the edges of leaves turning brown. You should flush the silver philodendron soil well if your plant is showing signs of too much fertilizer.
– Selecting the Right Pot
Like many tropical species, this plant does best in a pot only slightly larger than its root ball. The best way to tell that it’s time to repot a silver philodendron is when roots appear above the soil or are growing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
The best time of year to repot is during mid-spring to early summer, so the plant has plenty of time to acclimate to its new pot before growth slows in the fall. You should select a pot one size larger and use rich, well-draining soil. Start cuttings in small terra cotta or ceramic pots no more than 5″ deep. This will give your plant the proper conditions to grow healthy, strong roots.
– Light Requirements
You would find silver philodendron growing in dappled shady locations on rocks and climbing the trunks of trees in nature. In your home or garden, you should select a bright, indirect light location for optimal growth.
It’s best to avoid east or west-facing windows. Silver philodendron plants grow well when somewhat away from south-facing windows. Most north-facing windows are good spots, but take care to prevent excessive direct light, even when filtered through glass or a screen.
– The Ideal Temperature
These plants make ideal house plants because they thrive in the same conditions we keep in our homes. Ideal temperatures are between 65 degrees and 75 degrees, with higher temperatures preferable to lower ones. Below 50 degrees, the silver plant will struggle and may die.
– Water Requirements
The best way to water is to gently soak the surface until water drains from the drainage holes. You will need to determine how often to water your plant based on the plant’s size, pot, and the conditions in your home. Warmer, drier conditions will require more frequent watering.
– Humidity for Silver Philodendron
Humidity is as essential to proper growth as any other aspect of care for the silver leaf philodendron. There are a couple of ways you can ensure your plant has adequate humidity. These plants will do well between 30 and 50 percent humidity, often similar to the average household.
Use a spray bottle with filtered water to gently mist foliage every few days to ensure proper humidity during the growing season. An evaporative tray of pebbles or pumice stone half-filled with water and placed beneath the pot also encourages the correct humidity levels.
Identifying problems with these plants is relatively easy. Once you get used to the signs the plant shows you, you’ll quickly adjust your plant’s care to keep it growing strong.
- Edges of leaves are curling: This is a sign that your plant needs more water. When adequately watered, the leaves will be rigid, thick, and succulent. Many growers wait to water their plants until the edges start to curl, which is ideal for providing more water.
- Edges of the leaves turning brown: Typically, this indicates that your plant is not getting enough water, has been over-fertilized, or the soil has accumulated too much salt. It may also show the plant is getting too much light. You may need to repot the plant with clean soil and adjust your watering schedule while ensuring the plant is in bright, indirect light.
- Leaves falling off: This is often a sign of low humidity. You can mist your plant and provide an evaporative tray to encourage the right amount of humidity.
- Leaves turning yellow and dying: Unfortunately, this is a sign of root rot. Suppose you see the yellowing of leaves and mushy areas at the surface. In that case, you will need to repot, cutting away any soft, waterlogged, mushy parts of the root. Often, it’s easier to propagate your plant and destroy the mother rather than risk spreading root rot to other plants.
- Hanging vines have no leaves: In nature, this is a climbing plant, but in hanging baskets, the plant will search for an object to climb. You can provide a climbing structure or trim the vines to propagate, keeping the original plant tidy and neat.
- Тhe silver spotted philodendron is also called satin pothos, though it is neither a philodendron nor a pothos variety.
- Several varieties exhibit varying degrees of silvering of leaves, with silver plant species with predominantly silver leaves being more rare, desirable, and quite valuable.
- Propagation of silver leaf philodendron plants is best done through vine cuttings.
- Silver Philodendron soil must be rich and well-draining, with bright, indirect light, moderate humidity, and regular watering when the soil’s surface is dry.
- Most common problems can be quickly resolved by adjusting the watering schedule, repotting, or moving the plant to a better location.
You can learn to grow this interesting tropical species in your home. It makes an ideal hanging plant. When allowed to climb, it will exhibit some strange behaviors few other plants can, including varying the leaves’ size and shape and laying flat.
These are great plants to start and share with friends since the best way to control the plant’s growth is to make more plants. You shouldn’t have difficulty growing silver philodendron at home when you follow the tips in this guide.
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