Philodendron Birkin

The Philodendron Birkin ranks among the most beautiful plants since it is my daughter’s favorite. She loves the curving white variegations and that the large leaves spreading outwards instead of upward. This makes its look “cute” for her. In fact, she’ll get angry when she sees me pruning its leaves.

I also think it looks less daunting to kids compared to the longer, larger plants.

 

Appearance

What makes the Philodendron birkin a well-known houseplant is its stunning leaves. These are larger relative to the plant itself. They are likewise heart-shaped.

But, its most striking feature are the leaves’ dark green In color and white pinstripes that extend from the midrib all the way to the edges of the leaves. These variegations appear as the plant matures.

They can grow to as tall as 1 to 2 feet high indoors. Less common are those that reach 3 feet tall. Instead, their leaves spread outwards to the sides making them cover as much as 2 to 3 feet in breadth.

Their evergreen nature also means you can enjoy their lovely looks all year round.

 

Philodendron Birkins are Mutations of Philodendron Congo Rojo

Just as interesting is the plant’s history.

The plant is actually a mutation that occurred during the cultivation of the Philodendron Congo Rojo. As such, there are no Philodendron Birkins in the wild. Instead, they are grown via tissue culture.

While the creation of the Philodendron Birkin was an accident, its beautiful leaves made it commercially viable. As such, growers have produced more of the plant to feed the demand. This has allowed once high prices to become affordable today.

One thing worth noting is that in general, the plant is stable. This means that propagating it will give you the same white pinstriped leaves with a green background.

However, because it is a mutation, there’s that risk that the plant will revert back into solid green leaves which the Congo Rojo has.

Other times, you may also see odd and random results. Among these include those with red and white leaves, completely white leaves and others splashed of pink.

 

Philodendron Birkin Plant Care

Light Requirements

The beauty of the Philodendron birkin lies in its variegations or “curvy lines on the leaves,” as my daughter would call it. And, one of the most important things to keep those variegations looking their best is lighting.

The plant enjoys bright, indirect light. The variegations also means that it is less able to tolerate low light, at least relative to plants with solid green leaves.

While its variegations are not as prominent or large as other plants, you’ll still notice your Philodendron Birkin turn more solid green if it isn’t receiving enough light. This is a sign that it wants more light. Other signs include slower than normal growth along with fewer, smaller foliage.

Should this happen, moving the plant somewhere brighter should fix the problem. Another options is to use grow lights if windows are not as accessible.

Another important thing to remember is that your Philodendron birkin cannot withstand direct sunlight or a very harsh sun (which happens in the afternoons and peaks of summer).

So, a good spot for it is near a window away from the path of the sun. I keep mind near an east facing window with many of my other philos. I’ve tested the northeast and southeast and both work really well.

You can likewise keep it outdoors if you wish. Although, I live in Southern California which makes it easier since we get sun all year round. if you have four seasons, you’ll need to move it indoors in before winter arrives. I’ll discuss this in detail in the next section.

Direct sunlight is one of the worst things you can do to your Birkin’s leaves. Long exposures to this will cause the beautiful foliage to scorch leaving you with burnt edges or yellowing.

The easiest way to tell if the plant is in the direct path of the sun is to see if it produces a shadow at any time of the day. If it does, you’ll want to move it.

That said, there is an exception. If you live in areas where winters get cold, the amount of sunlight your home receives changes as the seasons change.

This means during the winter, you’ll want to move the plant to where there’s most sunlight. This is a south facing window.

On the other hand, when summer arrives, it is a good idea to avoid sections of your home that experience intense or harsh rays of the sun. During this time, keeping the plant in partial shade or medium to bright indirect or filtered light works best.

 

Temperature

The Philodendron birkin is a tropical plant. It was cultivated from the Philodendron Congo Rojo which hails from South America. This means that its is used to warm, humid conditions.

It prefers temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, it can tolerate warmer weather as well.

On the other hand, you want to be careful with colder climates. Once temperature drops under 60 degrees, the plant will stop growing. And, below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will because experiencing cold damage.

So, if you live USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, you can keep the plant indoors or outside without a problem. Below zone 9, most birkin owners keep them as houseplants. The good news is, you can bring them outside during the summer to soak up some sun and fresh air. Just make sure to take them back inside as the temperature drops later in the fall.

Another thing that plant does not like is drafts. This goes for both cold and warm drafts. This can be from open windows, air conditioning or heating.

Keep it away from any vent that produces gusts of cold or warm air. Otherwise, you’ll see its leaves and leaf tips turn brown as the air will get too dry. Cold vents will also cause cold damage or stress depending on how low the temperature is.

 

Humidity

Humidity is something I keep an eye on every day because the weather tends to be dry where I live. It drops even farther (the lowest I’ve seen is 11% and many times in the 20-30% range) when the temperatures go up. This is why we get wildfires and forest fires.

The Philodendron birkin on the hand (along with many houseplants), prefer mid to high humidity. In the birkin’s case, I’ve noticed it does best when humidity is at least 60% to 70%. In fact, it will be happier at 80% and above, although that’s a bit more difficult to achieve on a consistent basis.

The good news is that it will tolerate average household humidity without any harm as long as you keep it at 40% or higher.

Because humidity can swing quite a bit here, I always check my digital hygrometer. I have one on the table near my plants. I’ve actually kind of gotten addicted to looking at the humidity to the point it is something I need to check every morning.

If you notice indoor humidity drop, you can fix it with one of the following.

  • Mist the plant a few times a week – how often depends on how far the gap between your room humidity is and the target level.
  • Give the plant a shower – when humidity drops and is expected to stay low for a bit, I bring my plants to the bathroom and shower them once a week. This lets them soak in some moisture as well as vapor. If you do this, make sure to let them dry out right after. it takes me 20 to 30 minutes then I put them back in their places.
  • Place the plant on a pebble tray – here, you keep the pot on top of rocks in a tray filled with water. When the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plant.
  • Group the plants – as the plants transpire, the collective moisture evaporating from their leaves will increase the vapor above.
  • Use a humidifier – this increases humidity the quickest and you can control the level.

 

How Often to Water Philodendron Birkin

The warmer the weather, the more you’ll need to water the plant. On the other hand, cut back on watering during the colder months.

Watering my Philodendron birkin is something I closely monitored when I first got it. I often do this after placing them in quarantine when I first get the plant.

What I noticed is that the plant enjoys slightly moist soil. More importantly, it is susceptible to overwatering. But, if you had to choose between the two, keeping it on the dry side of things is much safer than giving it too much water.

I found that the plant does best when you wait until at least the top inch of soil dries out between waterings. Don’t worry if miss by another day or two. As long as you water when the soil is about 50% to 60% dry, it will be fine.

Once you see the plant’s leaves start drooping or the edges of the foliage become dry and crispy, it is a sign that it lacks water. But before then, there’s no problem.

However, you do want to avoid overwatering at all costs. This is harder to recover from compared to a drier plant which only takes about 24 to 48 hours to begin perking up after you water.

When watering, soaking the entire root ball then allowing the excess moisture to drain is the way to go. Thus, keep watering until he liquid starts dripping from under the pot. Then, let the plant drain in the sink before returning it to its place.

 

Philodendron Birkin Potting Soil

The ideal soil for your Philodendron Birkin is one that drains excess moisture well. This prevents overwatering even on instances when you happen to give it too much moisture.

If your local nursery carries and Aroid mix, you can use that, so you don’t have to create your own potting mix.

For me, I like DIY potting soil recipes because they are cheaper, let me adjust the percentages any time and let me experiment and see how different plants react to different substrates.

Here are some DIY potting mixes that work really well for your Philodendron Birkin. I’m putting a few options so you can ingredients that you already have on hand.

Potting Mix #1:

  • 2/3 regular potting soil
  • 1/3 perlite

Potting Mix #2:

  • 2/3 peat moss or coco coir (coco coir is more environmentally friendly)
  • 1/3 perlite

Is the Philodendron Birkin Climber?

Another thing worth noting is that the Philodendron Birkin is self-heading. So, it does not climb like many of its relatives (although it will climb if give a pole). Most owners let it grow upright like most terrestrial houseplants.

That said, I’ve noticed that as the plant gets bushier it become top heavy. And, over time, it will tend to lean towards one side (whichever becomes bushier). You can prune it on the heavier side to even things out.

For me, I staked the plant as advised by a gardener friend which worked quite well. This gives the plant enough support.

Often, this happens naturally. That’s just how this plant is built.

But, there are instances that it is caused by uneven lighting. Since the side of the plant that gets more light grows better, it will become bushier and lean towards that side. A good way to prevent this is to rotate the plant every week or two by a quarter turn. This will allow it to receive even amounts of sunlight on all sides.

 

Fertilizer

Your Philodendron Birkin only needs light feeding every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and summer. Avoid feeding the plant during winter as it takes a breather from growing.

I use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 50% the recommended strength. Both 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 formulations work really well for it.

I use synthetic fertilizer because it gives you more value for your money. You can use organic plant food as well, which reduces the risk of over fertilizing. Whichever way you go, avoid the cheap, low quality stuff which leave a lot of chemical residue.

It is also worth mentioning that I flush the soil every 6 to 8 months or so to make sure that excess minerals are washed out.

If you prefer avoiding fertilizer altogether, you can add compost and worm castings to the potting mix. Adding an extra layer each spring will let you go through the growing season without using fertilizer. This is something a friend of mine does with her Philodendron birkin.

 

Pruning

The Philodendron birkin does not need a lot of pruning. I’ve only needed to do so when leaves get damages or turn yellow.

The plant itself won’t grow too big, although till will get to between 1 to 2 feet tall. Outdoors it will be bigger. Instead, the plant likes to spread sideways as its relatively large leaves extend to the sides.

This is what can cause it to be imbalanced and top heavy over time since this can cover 2 to 3 feet out.

As its leaves are its crowning glory, you want them to stay in tact and get bushy.

 

How to Propagate Philodendron Birkin

Philodendron Birkin are quite easy to propagate and stem cuttings are the way to go. This gives you clones of your parent plant so you know exactly what you’re getting.

You can likewise choose between propagating the cuttings in water or straight to soil. I’ve found that the former as a higher success rate but you run the risk of losing some of them when you transfer from water to soil.

Either way, both water and soil propagation work, so it really comes down to your preference and which method you’re more proficient in.

To propagate Philodendron Birkin through stem cuttings:

  • Take a health stem with at least one node. I like to propagate plants during the spring since this is when its growth is strongest. This gives the new plants a better chance of surviving and thriving.
  • Once I have a few cuttings, I plant them into potting soil.
  • It takes about 3 to 4 weeks before the roots will grow.
  • As the cuttings get bigger, you can repot them to a larger container.

 

How to Repot or Transplant Philodendron Birkin

The Philodendron Birkin is a fast growing plant which is great as you’ll quickly see new leaves form. This also means that it will grow into tis container fairly quickly.

While it does mean a little bit more work, I feel this is worth is since repotting allows the plant to keep growing. And, with he birkin, the bushier and fuller the leaves are, the prettier it will look.

I like to check the plant annually for any signs it may be rootbound. Usually, the first symptom are roots coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the plant.

When I see this, it is time to get repot.

Fortunately it is sunny all year round where I live. And, the temperature does not get too cold during the winter months. So, I can repot almost any time except for sudden cold or breezy days.

That said, spring is the best time to repot since the plant is strongest then. This lets it recover quickly from the stress of transplanting.

The good news is that the Philodendron birkin is fairly hardy when it comes to repotting. So, it does not experience transplant stress or shock as much as other houseplants do

When repotting, choose a container that is at most 2 inches wider in diameter compared to the current pot. Also, pick one with drainage holes at the bottom.

I also like to check the roots while replacing the soil. Doing so will let you know if the plant is happy with your current watering schedule.

 

Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs

Yes, it is. this means that you want to keep it away from the reach of young children as well as cats and dogs. Ingesting parts of the plant can cause mild to medium side effects depending on how much was eaten.

 

Problems & Troubleshooting

Since all houseplant will go through problems at one point or another, I’ve compiled some troubleshooting tips to help remedy some common problems you might encounter.

 

Growing Problems

What Size Does the Philodendron Birkin Grow to?

The plant will get to around 1 to 2 feet, sometimes taller than tat indoor. Outdoors, in the ground, it will look different from its houseplant version being considerably bigger.

In many cases, the plant is often stays between 8 inches to about 15 or so inches. However, it tends to grow out sideways more. its leaves can extend to reach a spread of 2 to 3 feet.

This makes the plant look bushy and beautiful. But, it also causes it to become top heavy and lean towards one side.

Thanks to this growth habit, it will need space to its sides.

 

Why are My Philodendron Birkin’s Variegations Reverting?

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced this with mine. Nor have a met someone whose plant reverted from its variegations back to solid green leaves.

But, I’ve heart stories and read about them. So, I can only go from these.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to know why this happens nor what a definite fix is. I’ve been told that pruning the solid green leaves once you notice them gives these leaves a chance to grow back in their variegated form.

 

Brown Leaves and Tips

Low humidity and lack of water are the two most common causes of brown leaves and tips with my houseplants. Too much sunlight, be it direct or overly harsh rays, can cause this. Although, the damage here will start in somewhat circular or oval shaped fashion on the edges.

 

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves can be due to normal aging as older leaves will change their pigmentation. But, if more than one or two leaves start turning yellow at the same time, there’s likely a problem.

The most common cause of yellow leaves is overwatering. However, too much direct sunlight or cold injury can likewise cause yellowing leaves.

The first thing I check when I see yellow leaves is the soil. If its feels wet or moist and you didn’t just water it, it is a sign that the plant is getting too much water.

Soft, yellow leaves are likewise a hint. In contrast, lack of water will give you crispier, drier foliage.

 

Why is My Philodendron Birkin Dying?

A sad, drooping and looking plant is one that’s experience stress. The most common cause for houseplants is overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

If I suspect this, I take it out of the pot immediately so I can check the roots. Root rot is the most problematic issue with houseplants. Untreated, it will destroy the plant since your Birkin won’t be able to absorb water or nutrients from the soil once the roots are rotted.

Hopefully, the roots are white and firm looking. If they’re brown, black or soggy and mushy, they’re rotting.

Whether or not you can save the plant depends on how extensive the rotting is. If only a small part is affected, prune that section away and repot the plant in fresh well-draining potting soil.

Then pray it recovers on its own. Sometimes it will, other times it won’t.

This is the only way I’ve seen it saved.

A less serious case of a sorry, dying looking plant can happen if it isn’t getting enough light. If you keep it in a windowless room or low light condition, this can happen.

The good news is, moving it to a brighter spot will help it recover.

 

Pests

So far, I haven’t had any pests attack my Philodendron Birkin. I do know that the plant is fairly resistant to pests. Nevertheless, I’ve been old that they can still experience mealybugs, spider mites, thrips and scale. So, regular inspection is still an important part of your care routine.

Its love for high humidity makes pests a threat especially spider mites which are attracted to warm, humid conditions.

 

Diseases

Diseases are likewise another problem. Here, it’s all above avoiding overwatering.

Many of the diseases are a result to watering too frequently which allows the soil the stay too moist for the plant’s liking.

Another common cause is keeping the plant in a pot that is too big. When this happens, the volume of soil will causes it to hold more water than the plant needs. It also takes longer for more soil to dry.

Overwatering can lead to diseases like bacterial blight, fungal diseases, leaf spot and even root rot.

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