The Philodendron Birkin hasn’t been on the scene long but has made a big impression. This cultivar started as a mutation of the Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo,’ so it wasn’t readily available for a while, contributing to its rarity. The Birkin’s surge in popularity made growers take notice, and due to tissue culture production, it’s much easier to find this easy-care houseplant now. Due to its origin, the Birkin is one of those rare plants that is not found in nature. Also known as Birkin white wave, this stunner features white variegation that stands out. Here is everything you need to know about Philodendron Birkin.
This houseplant has a compact form and an upright growth habit, making it self-heading. New leaves emerge from the thick stem of the last leaf. This plant is not a vining Philodendron; rather, it grows taller and bushier with time. The Philodendron Birkin is a slow grower, but it’s worth the wait.
The Birkin has some stellar variegation. The thick, glossy leaves are round, come to a slight point, and feature white pinstripes that radiate from the midrib or center. A lack of chlorophyll causes the white coloring. The white striping provides a stark contrast against the dark green foliage. New leaves often have a creamy or yellow tone before transitioning into white, and the entire leaf may emerge completely white with slight hints of green before switching to predominately green with traces of white. Since this plant is a mutation of the Rojo Congo, leaves may have a red tint, or the plant can revert to being a Rojo Congo.
It’s also worth noting that variegation only appears on mature plants, and young plants have solid green leaves. Older leaves may revert to solid green; however, new, flashy foliage often obscures these leaves.
Philodendron Birkin Light Needs
Bright indirect sunlight is essential for proper Philodendron Birkin care. Some Philodendron varieties can handle less intense light, but the Birkin is not one of them. This leafy plant needs bright light to maintain its variegation. Mature plants grown in medium light will revert to solid green leaves, or exhibit faded pinstriping. Periodically rotate the pot a quarter turn so each side receives consistent sunlight to further support the variegation.
Near a south-facing window is a good location, but move the plant back or hang a shear curtain to diffuse the light. An east- or west-facing window may also provide adequate light; just be careful near a west-facing window because it may become too warm. Consider using a grow light to ensure proper lighting if you cannot find a suitable location in your home. Keep this plant out of direct sunlight, which can burn the foliage. Sunburned plants will develop black or brown spots.
How Often to Water Birkin
Water your Philodendron Birkin when the top couple of inches of soil are dry. Overwatering is a common problem, so feel the soil and only water when necessary. Yellow tips indicate the plant is overwatered. A yellow tint overtaking the entire leaf suggests the plant is underwatered. Other signs of underwatering include drooping stems and curled leaves.
The ideal soil will be light and promote drainage. Most potting mixes are a good fit. You can always amend a potting mix with perlite to improve drainage because these plants do not like soggy conditions.
The Birkin hails from a line of tropical plants, so keep this beauty warm, which isn’t hard because most homes are a good temperature for these plants. Anything between 60° to 80° F is acceptable. Keep the plant clear or drafts.
Philodendron Birkins are not cold tolerant, and anything below 55° F can be trouble. Relocating your plant to a porch or patio in the summer is a great way to give the plant a boost of humidity and add style to your space, but monitor the temperature in the spring and fall.
Birkin Humidity Needs
Keep your Birkin lush with increased humidity in the range of 50% to 60%. Browning along the edges of the foliage is a sign of dry air. Bathrooms and kitchens are good locations for this plant due to the increased dampness. Make any spot a good fit by grouping plants to naturally increase moisture in the air or use a humidifier or pebble tray with water.
The Birkin is a moderate feeder. This plant does not need frequent feedings to thrive, but the occasional fertilizer application will help it continue to push out new foliage. Feed the Philodendron Birkin using a diluted balanced fertilizer. Apply fertilizer once in the spring and again around midsummer. Fertilizing more frequently can cause the foliage to turn yellow. Water the Birkin before feeding so the roots can absorb the fertilizer, decreasing the risk of fertilizer burn.
Pruning is not a major requirement for Birkin care but is occasionally necessary. Remove dead or damaged leaves as they appear. Remove old leaves that have lost their variegation if your plant is large and full. Leaves naturally lose their vibrancy as they age, and removing them will redirect energy into the plant to produce new growth. Be careful not to over-prune Birkins because these plants grow slowly.
Does Philodendron Birkin Bloom?
Philodendrons grown in nature or a controlled greenhouse can bloom, but houseplants seldom set flowers. The Birkin is a newer hybrid not found in nature, so it probably blooms, but there are no documented instances of it blooming yet. It is doubtful a Birkin grown inside will bloom.
When to Repot Philodendron Birkin
Repotting is not an annual affair for the Birkin, but plan to repot this slow-grower every two to three years. Select a new plant pot a couple of inches larger with drainage and give the plant fresh soil when repotting.
Philodendron Birkin Propagation
Propagate the Philodendron Birkin via cuttings. Birkins are easy to propagate once you get past the first step. The thing about propagating a self-heading Philodendron, like the Birkin, is you have to cut the main stem and drastically alter the appearance of the parent plant.
Each new leaf grows from the last leaf, creating a thick trunk-like stem. Growth nodes are within the overlapping stems and are sometimes visible as aerial roots that emerge from the thick stem. To take a cutting, you must cut a section of the stem with several growth nodes and leaves.
Trim the stem using a sharp knife. It may be easier to take the cuttings when repotting, and the plant is removed from its pot and placed sideways on a level surface. You can take multiple cuttings from a single plant but do not remove more than one-third of the plant at a time. You will remove the top of the plant to get cuttings, but the parent plant will eventually push out new leaves on the sides of the stem, giving the plant a branched appearance.
Remove the lower leaves and place each cutting in water. Replace the water weekly. New roots will appear in a few weeks, and the cutting can be planted in soil when the roots are at least one inch long. Water the new plant consistently for the first week or two so the soil is consistently damp, then scale back to water when the top couple of inches of the soil are dry.
Is Philodendron Birkin Pet Safe?
Like all Philodendrons, the Birkin is not pet friendly. Eating or chewing on the foliage or stems can cause your pet to become ill, so be aware before bringing a Birkin into your home if you have pets or vice versa.
Philodendron Birkin Styling Tips
Styling the Birkin is easy because the plant does all of the work. Small plants make a stunning impact on a tabletop, and large plants are lovely floor plants. Pair the Birkin with a neutral pot to avoid distracting from the variegation. As a self-heading Philodendron, the Birkin is not a good fit for a hanging basket or high shelf, so keep it table-level or lower, so the foliage can be admired.
Philodendron Birkin Care Tips
Birkins are charming plants with thick, glossy leaves. Getting your hands on these plants not that long ago was hard, but it’s much easier now. Bright, indirect sunlight is vital to Philodendron Birkin care, and avoid over-fertilizing because it will cause more harm than good. Rinse or wipe down the leaves to keep the plant looking amazing and ensure the stripe details are on full display.