How to Care for a Scindapsus Treubii

Introduction 

The Scindapsus Treubii plants sound exotic and mysterious, with variety names such as “Moonlight” and “Dark form”. While they sound otherworldly and are somewhat rare, caring for both varieties of this plant are achievable for novice plant owners as they make excellent houseplants.

The Scindapsus Treubii are well suited to those who are new to plant care or want a low-maintenance plant to add to their collection. They need access to indirect sunlight, consistent warmth and humidity, well-draining soil, and a planter to call their own.

Throughout this guide, you will be introduced to the background, proper care and support for the Scindapsus Treubii plant, and even learn how to propagate it yourself.

What is a Scindapsus treubii? 

These Scindapsus genus family of plants are indigenous to Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Queensland, and New Guinea.

While they are rare as houseplants, these dark green leafy trailing and climbing vine plants are found in the shade of larger trees in rainforests. They trail along the forest floor, across and over rocks, hoping to find a tree trunk or boulder to utilize for vertical support.

Plants with this growing pattern and behavior are called epiphytes, and are common in the t

They are known to be relatively slow-growing plants, which lends itself well to gardeners who are hoping for a low maintenance but visually impressive houseplant.

Two Popular Varities

There is the sterling silver “Moonlight” variety, and the “Dark” form. This article will explore the care, features, and intricacies of both Scindapsus varieties, as their differences are largely in leaf color.

Both varieties belong to the same family (Araceae), subfamily (Monstreroideae), and genus (Scindapsus). As such, they both grow in the same regions and require similar care, though their appearances vary.

In nature and under ideal conditions, these plants will blossom “un-showy” flowers on warm days. However, this is rarely likely with domestic plants grown indoors, and should not be expected.

What does it look like? 

Leaves

As the location of the plant changes as it matures, so do its leaves to best suit the locale.

When a plant is immature, its leaves are still developing. The leaves begin in what is called a “falcate” state. This is when the edges are smooth, the tip is pointed, and the plant is (often) still searching for a climbing location. This shape is also commonly called a “teardrop” shape but may sometimes resemble more of a heart shape.

As the plant finds a place to climb and begins to mature, the leaves become larger. They will occasionally change shape, sometimes becoming longer and thinner. Sometimes they will develop lobes along their margins.

No matter how the leaf shape changes, as the plant attaches itself to its support host, the leaves will begin lie flat, or “shingle”, along the side of the growing surface.

These leaves will alternate across the vine. When the plant is healthy, the leaves have a smooth, satiny appearance and texture. The leaves are thick, sturdy, and may grow 12-20cm in size when mature.

For the leaves to fully develop, the plant needs to be supported by a stalk, rock, or tree. The vine itself can climb upwards of eight feet, so the additional vertical support is necessary.

The coloring you can expect on each plant varies according to its species.

The “Moonlight” variety of plant has pale, almost milky-green edges with a silvery hue in the center. Conversely, the “dark” form leaves of the Scindapsus treubii are deep green in hue, appearing nearly black in some lighting.

As the Scindapsus treubii is part of the evergreen family, these tropical plants keep their rich green base color all year round.

Plant Care

Soil and Feeding

There are multiple options for soil choices for this plant, but the key factor to growth and plant success is a soil that is fast draining, as this plant needs to be kept in a planter indoors.

The planter should allow for enough space for the vine to wander, and have adequate drainage holes to ensure the plant’s roots are well aerated.

For soil, this plant does well with a succulent soil, regular houseplant soil, or a loam mixture.

To improve the quality of the soil and increase nutrients to the plant, you can make a couple of additions to your soil mixture:
            – Add perlite to your soil to improve aeration
            – Mix one part soil with one part orchid bark, and one part perlite.
            -Add compost to your soil mixture (keep ratios the same, 1:1)
            -Grow the plant in peat

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Regarding fertilization, the plant may be fed once a month during the growing season, which is spring through summer. A fertilizer mix that is high in nitrogen is recommended for this plant.

Watering

While these plants like humidity, it is important to make sure that they are not over watered. They are sensitive to water collecting and need to have proper drainage in both the soil and the planter.

Watering the plant’s soil can be done with tap, distilled, or filtered water. When misting the plant’s leaves, it is important to use distilled or filtered water. This will prevent mineral build up on the leaves that can happen with tap water, which can cause disruption to the absorption of other nutrients.

The Scindapsus treubii are tropical plants by nature, and as such, are tolerant to high humidity levels. Ideally, humidity at 40% (minimum) or above, or consistently above 60%, will keep your plant happy and moist.

If you live in a dry climate, you may consider a small humidifier near your plant to keep it misted. You can also use a spray bottle with a mister setting to keep your plant’s leaves and soil damp.

You will know if your plant is underwatered if the leaves begin to feel or look crunchy, or if the leaves are yellowing.

Signs of overwatering are also important to watch for.

Check the soil prior to watering your plant by sticking your finger into the soil approximately two inches. If the soil is dry, your plant needs to be watered. If it is damp, let the soil be.

If your plant is overwatered, it may droop, slow its growing rate, and begin to show signs of mold on the surface layer of soil. If the plant is not aerated and give a chance to dry out, this overwatering can cause the roots to rot and eventually kill the plant.

Location and Sunlight

Because the Scindapsus treubii are climbing plants, they will often require extra support if grown at home – a bamboo stick, stake, or other vertical item for the plant to climb will suffice.

If you are hoping for your plant to grow tall, you may want to use a moss or sphagnum stick to help support the plant. The extra organic material in these can help encourage the growth of aerial roots, which help the plant grow and support itself as it climbs vertically.

Both varieties of Scindapsus prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Remember, as this plant is kept indoors, providing it with direct outdoor sunlight can dry out and even singe its leaves.

A balanced place for these plants is east-facing windows, away from drafty locations and with soft light. Light can be softened through curtains, blinds, or by placing the plant at an angle to the sunlight.

Temperature and Humidity

You will know the plant needs more sunlight if leaves begin to pale in color or substantially slow down in their growth.  

The temperature requirement for these plants is one that will keep them comfortable and like their warm climate outdoor origins.

These plants prefer warm temperatures and lots of humidity. For temperature, they like to be in environments that are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit consistently and all year. Ideally, the preferred temperature would remain between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sensitivity to temperature means it is important to take careful consideration when determining a location for your houseplant.

During slightly cold weather, it is okay to leave your plant in a windowsill. Avoid placing it in front of cooling items like fans or air conditioners.

If the temperatures drop below 55 or begin to freeze, it is time to move the plant! Exposure to this cold, even from a drafty window or being outside, is enough to risk frost damage.

Warm weather is preferred for this plant, but again, it is important to not keep it in heat or direct sunlight in temperatures above 75 degrees. The plants’ leaves can wilt or scorch if exposed to too much warmth.

Cuttings/Propagation

There are two methods that can be used to propagate your plant, and this is often how new plants are acquired for interested gardeners – by purchasing a cutting from another plant.

Timing is important when beginning the process of cuttings from your plant. It should always be done in spring (before the plant initiates its growing season), when the plant is no longer dormant.

If cuttings are taken when the plant is dormant, you have less chance of success with your new growth and more risk to the health of the plant.

To propagate your plant, you may choose between two common methods: trimming and placing a cutting in a perlite mixture or trimming and placing a cutting in water.

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Whichever method is selected, begin the process with clean materials and a clean workspace to prevent cross-contamination.

Perlite Mixture
For this method, you will need:
            – A clean gardening shear or sharp knife
            – A small pot with adequate perlite mixture
            – Plastic bag or growing box
            – Plant mister or spray bottle

Before you cut, prepare your small pot with perlite mixture and water it thoroughly.

            1. Cut multiple long (5-7”) stems, below the nodes from the bottom leaf on each. Use the clean gardening shear or knife.

2. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem cutting.

3. Place the stem in the pot. It should be about 3” deep. You may be able to place up to three cuttings in each pot.

4. Thoroughly mist the soil again and place the plant in the polythene bag or growing box. This will help maintain consistent moisture levels as the plant develops.

5. Place the setup in an area that receives warm, indirect light. Keep the cover properly aerated to prevent mold.

6. After three to four weeks, the node’s small baby roots will begin to develop. Remove the plastic cover.

7.  Gently spray water on the soil and allow the very upper level to dry out between watering times. Keeping the upper level of soil dry will minimize the chances of mold or root rot.

8. After approximately three months, your cuttings can be transferred to their permanent pots. Care for as laid out in the Plant Care section.   

Water

For this method, you will need:
            – A clean gardening shear or sharp knife
            – A jar with water

You may use distilled or filtered water for this plant. If using tap water, allow it to sit overnight prior to planting to let any chlorine evaporate.

            1. Cut multiple (3-4”) stems, below the nodes from the bottom leaf on each. Use the clean gardening shear or knife.

2. Place the stem cutting in a glass or jar of water. Make sure the water level does not cover any of the bottom leaves.

3. Change the water once per week. This will reintroduce oxygen to the stem cuttings. If, however, you notice the water getting murky prior to the one-week mark, replace it early.

4. After approximately three to four weeks, small roots will begin forming. When these roots appear, you may continue to grow the plant in water, or transfer it to a soil mixture.

The plant cuttings will be ready to be planted individually after about three months. Use caution when repotting the plant, and then follow its normal care routine.

Safety and Interventions

Toxicity

Both varieties of Scindapsus treubii are toxic to both humans and animals if consumed. It can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and other ill effects.

Store the plant safely away from small children and animals and use caution when handling cuttings. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling plants or soil.

Pruning and Potting

To keep the plant at is healthiest, trim off dead leaves when necessary, and remove excess growth. As with any major changes to the plant, it is best to do this during its growing season (spring-summer) for optimum health.

If you begin to notice that your plant’s soil moisture and sunlight exposure are adequate but the plant’s leaves are curling or drooping, it may be time to repot. This typically only happens once or twice during the lifetime of a Scindapsus treubii, so choosing the right container is important.

Look for signs that the plant has outgrown its pot – roots may be growing through drainage holes, or they are overcrowded.

To repot your plant, you will need:
            – New pot that is larger and has drainage holes
            – A soil mixture (see the mixture options in the Plant Care section)
            -Trowel
            -Gloves
            -Scissors or sharp knife

It is important to handle any plant you are repotting delicately! Repotting a plant has five major steps:

            1. Choose your larger pot. Make sure it is both deeper and wider, typically by about one inch.

            2. Layer the soil mixture into the pot. Ensure there is enough to cover the roots, but not so much that the soil will spill over the top.

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            3. Water both pots – the new soil, and the plant you are repotting. Then put on your gloves.  

            4. Remove the plant from its old pot. Turn the pot upside down and gently place your hand over the top. Rotate the plant a couple of inches to loosen the roots and allow it to fall out onto your hand. If the plant is stuck, you may use a butter knife to help loosen it.

            5. Use the trowel to create a crater for the new plant. Gently loosen the roots and untangle or trim any wilted or dead roots.

            6. Place the plant in its new pot! Fill around the plant with new soil, gently pat it down, and water it again.

Place in a warm spot with indirect sunlight and give the plant diligent attention throughout the next week as it adjusts. It may need a bit more water than usual, but should not be fertilized for at least one month.

After the first month, you may then proceed with care as usual.

Mold

If the plant has damp soil and the leaves are turning yellow or blackish, there may be a mold issue.

The first course of action is to gently remove the top layer of soil that has mold, and let the plant air out before adding more. If the mold problem is severe, you may need to repot.

You can use an additional product to help mitigate mold.

Spray the top of the plant well with clean water, then treat the leaves with neem oil. (Note: before fully treating your plant, it is best to spray a small area on a single leaf and observe for 24 hours. If there is an adverse effect, discontinue use.) This will absorb into the plant and operates as a fungicide.

After treatment, leave the plant in an area that is well-ventilated and has plenty of indirect light.

Pests

Fortunately, the Scindapsus treubii is relatively resistant to common plant pests. To take extra caution in preventing pests from appearing, you can use preventative neem oil to spray and keep bugs at bay.

While effective, the neem oil spray is most effective when applied to a young plant, so tend to your plant regularly to check for signs of infestation.

If you notice insects or pests do appear, it is best to consult a nursery or plant store for the best product or course of action for your plant.

Where to purchase

While beautiful and not particularly rare in the warm climates of its home, the Scindapsus treubii is often hard to find at nurseries.

Online social groups may be the best option, though keep in mind that the plant may arrive in less than pristine condition if it needs to be shipped to you.

There are also nurseries that have online stores where you can order both the Moonlight and the Dark form Scindapsus treubii, and they can ship directly to your home.

Both varieties of Scindapsus are relatively slow growing. While this makes it helpful as a plant owner, it can make it challenging to find because it takes longer to grow for the producer, thus taking longer to reach consumer’s hands.

If you find a mature Scindapsus treubii online and decide to order it, be sure to unpack it as soon as it arrives.

There may be some trauma to the leaves (yellowing, holes, breaks) due to the climate and transportation stress. You may need to trim, feed, or water the plant, depending on the travel conditions. Take some time to tend to the plant before placing it in its new location.

If you order a cutting, follow the same instructions for other cuttings before transplanting. Both plants should rest for approximately one month prior to repotting.

With regular care and prompt attention, the plant will normalize itself within the first few weeks of arriving.

If you notice signs of ill health, follow the guidance provided in the Plant Care section.

Summary

With visually striking leaves that maintain their evergreen color year-round, it is easy to see why the Scindapsus treubii has caught the attention of houseplant enthusiasts.

Its slow growing pace and hearty nature make it a plant that is easy to keep around, and it will thrive for years to come.

Take care to watch the temperature, light, and humidity of this plant – with these key components taken care of, you will be ensured a show-stopping plant that will make others green with envy.