Learn all about Philodendron Birkin care, including how much light it needs and what to do if it loses its variegation.
How to care for your beautiful Philodendron Birkin
The Philodendron Birkin is a beautiful philodendron hybrid variety, and it makes the perfect houseplant! The Birkin is compact, somewhat slow-growing, and relatively easy to care for.
Birkins are identified by their round, deep green leaves with mildly pointed tips and vivid white pinstripes and variegation. No two leaves are the same. And thanks to the plump, thick, bright stems, they are always prominently on display in an upright, spreading growth pattern.
- Philodendron Birkin care overview
- What is a Philodendron Birkin crossed with?
- How much light does a Birkin need?
- How often should you water a Birkin?
- What kind of soil does a Birkin need?
- Do Birkin plants like to be misted?
- Ideal temperature range
- How big will a Philodendron Birkin get?
- Does a Birkin need moss pole?
- How do you make a Philodendron Birkin bushier?
- How often do you fertilize a Birkin?
- What to do if the Birkin loses variegation and starts reverting
- Can you propagate a Birkin?
- Other Philodendron Birkin care FAQs
Philodendron Birkin care overview
- Philodendron Birkin is a hybrid, compact, slow-growing plant with unique deep green leaves and white striped variegation.
- Birkin is a result of a rare mutation from the Philodendron Rojo Congo.
- Can revert to solid red-hued leaves; when this occurs, cut the plant back to the most recent variegated leaf to try to encourage variegation on new growth.
- Direct sunlight is harmful; they thrive in bright indirect light or shaded sunlight.
- Watering should be moderate; allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings.
- Birkin requires well-draining, nutrient-rich soil and high humidity; the ideal temperature is 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- They grow slowly, typically reaching 1-3 feet indoors; regular pruning promotes bushiness.
- Common problems include yellowing leaves due to overwatering, toxicity to pets, and pest vulnerability, especially to spider mites.
What is a Philodendron Birkin crossed with?
Philodendron is a diverse genus made up of 489 species that are most commonly found in tropical, humid climates. They’re known for their large, beautiful leaves and can be climbing plants, but they are commonly found as houseplants.
Philodendron Birkins do not exist in the wild and came to be because of a rare mutation in the Philodendron Rojo Congo. It was a spontaneous chimeric mutation, which is when a cell mutates near the apical dome, whereby all other cells replicate the mutation.
The leaf was separated off the mother plant and propagated. Unlike many other variegated plants, the propagation was surprisingly stable, meaning it retained its cool variegated patterns.
All Birkin plants are produced via tissue culture (but they can also be propagated). Birkins can revert back into a Rojo Congo or possibly mutate again. Although Birkin leaves are typically green with white pinstripes, they have also been known to grow red and cream colored leaves.
How much light does a Birkin need?
Direct sunlight is their worst enemy. It may seem counter-intuitive since plants need sunlight to live, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Direct sunlight can burn and damage the leaves or dry out the plant.
Birkins do best in bright indirect light or shaded sunlight. A great place to keep your plant is behind a thin curtain near a sunny window or on an east-facing windowsill.
If you have your plant in a super sunny window, remember to monitor it to make sure you don’t need to decrease the light levels. I also recommend rotating the plant every few weeks or so. Otherwise, it can grow lopsided as it reaches toward the light on one side.
If you’re able to give your Birkin plenty of shaded light without it getting too hot, the pinstripes on the leaves actually turn bright white. The newest leaves on my Birkin have a lot of white, and it’s very bright.
I’ve got it relatively far from a window, but it’s been under a grow light for a while. I’m loving watching the leaves coming out with stronger and stronger variegation!
How often should you water a Birkin?
One of the most crucial aspects of Philodendron Birkin care is keeping your plant hydrated. I recommend watering the plant only once the top few inches of soil have dried out.
If you notice the leaves are drooping, it could be an indication you’re not watering your Birkin properly. If the soil has been consistently wet, it may be overwatering. If it is caked and dry, it could be underwatering.
It’s so important to check soil moisture. In one home, it could dry out much faster than in another, meaning it would need more water. I never advise keeping a strict watering schedule for this reason.
What kind of soil does a Birkin need?
Nutrient-rich well-draining soil that retains some moisture is best for the Philodendron Birkin. The soil should retain water without flooding the plant or becoming soggy. This is usually done by putting something like coco coir in soil, while perlite is used to help encourage and enhance drainage.
A good well-draining and well-aerated soil mix from your local nursery will absorb moisture and increase aeration without water-logging the roots. Always take hints from the soil your plant comes in when repotting your plants in the future, too. Check out the consistency.
Something to keep in mind—soil that is in unglazed clay or ceramic pots will dry out faster than in glazed or plastic ones. So take a look at your pot when gauging your soil and water. Terracotta pots will dry out your soil much faster, for example.
Do Birkin plants like to be misted?
Remember, Philodendrons come from the rainforest, so they grow best in higher humidity. A good place to keep them is in a bathroom window, where they’ll get both sunlight and humidity.
If you don’t have a bathroom with decent lighting, you can add a humidifier. Another great way to maintain ambient humidity is by putting your plant on a pebble tray filled with water. As the water evaporates, the plant benefits directly.
If all of this sounds like too much work, consider a higher humidity environment like a greenhouse cabinet. I have an Ikea greenhouse cabinet that I set up, and my Birkin has lived on the bottom shelf off and on. This environment helps keep humidity levels high, too.
Ideal temperature range
Birkin plants prefer temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit can cause damage to the leaves. They can also do well in temperatures above 75, but monitor for signs of stress once the temperatures get really high.
If you have the plant outdoors for the spring and summer and it gets really hot where you live, you might want to check the soil to make sure it doesn’t need more water. You also might want to spray down the foliage with the hose to help cool it off during heat waves.
How big will a Philodendron Birkin get?
Birkins can start out quite small, but most I’ve seen in stores are 6-12 inches tall. When growing your Birkin indoors, it will probably get between 1 and a couple feet tall.
What makes Birkins such great house plants is that they grow slowly. You can pick a beautiful pot and chances are, you’ll never have to repot it. At the very least, you can go several years with the same pot.
Also keep in mind that the plant grows both up and out, so it can take up a larger amount of surface area. It can grow about 8 to 12 inches wide. To keep your Birkin growing, regularly wipe the leaves clean of dust and replenish with nutrient-rich soil or a houseplant fertilizer every year or so.
Check out this big beautiful Birkin I saw at a local nursery for like 120 bucks. Highly variegated, and probably the biggest Birkin I’ve ever seen in person. Gorgeous, isn’t it?!
Does a Birkin need moss pole?
A moss pole is not strictly necessary for a Philodendron Birkin, but it can be beneficial for supporting the plant as it grows and for encouraging bushiness. If you want to use a moss pole, it’s a good idea to insert the pole into the container at the same time as you repot the plant.
Philodendron Birkis are slow-growing plants and they don’t need a pole to climb, it’s more of an aesthetic choice. I did end up putting a small bamboo pole in with my plant to help prop it up straight when it started getting a bit top heavy.
How do you make a Philodendron Birkin bushier?
Big, bushy philodendrons are the best! There are a few ways you can make your Philodendron Birkin bushier. The methods are very similar to what you’d do on other types of philodendrons that have an upright, spreading, compact growth pattern. I’ll outline them here.
- Pinching: Pinching the tips of the plant’s stems encourages branching and bushiness. You can use your fingers or scissors to gently pinch the tips off, being careful not to remove too much at once.
- Propagation: Taking stem cuttings and rooting them in water or soil is a great way to create new plants that can be used to fill out a bushier appearance.
- Repotting: Repotting the plant in a slightly larger container with fresh soil can also help to promote bushiness. Make sure to use a well-draining potting mix and a container that has drainage holes.
- Good lighting: Provide your Philodendron Birkin with bright, indirect light. This will help to promote strong, healthy growth and bushiness.
- Regular Pruning: Regularly prune off any yellow, brown or damaged leaves, it will help the plant focus on growing new and healthy leaves which will make the plant more bushier.
How often do you fertilize a Birkin?
In general, it is a good idea to fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season, which is typically from spring to fall. You can use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer that has an equal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, such as 20-20-20. It will say on the bottle. Dilute it to half the strength of what is recommended on the package and apply it to the soil.
It’s also important to note that it’s better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize, as over-fertilizing can burn the roots and damage the plant. I have done this, and it’s not pretty! These days, I am mostly using Liqui-Dirt plant food in place of fertilizer, but you do you!
What to do if the Birkin loses variegation and starts reverting
If the new growth on your Philodendron Birkin starts producing non-variegated leaves, it means it is reverting back to its non-variegated form. You can try to reverse this by cutting back the plant to the last variegated leaf. So, that means cutting the non-variegated leaves away.
Honestly, I think the partially reverted leaves look really cool. I did have one emerge on my plant, and I didn’t cut it off. Then next leaf emerge just fine, so I decided to go with a wait and see approach. It won’t hurt your plant to prune off a reverting leaf if you want to, though!
Make sure to give your plant plenty of bright, indirect light going forward. Sometimes a lack of light can decrease the amount of variegation.
Can you propagate a Birkin?
Propagation can be done through cuttings. The best time to take cuttings is during spring or summer when the plants are growing and are at their strongest. Stem cuttings are the best way to cultivate Philodendron Birkins.
First, cut off a stem with a sharp blade. Then remove most of the leaves from the stem you’ve cut, only leaving one or two. Place those cuttings into a pot with moist, well-draining soil or basic, nutrient-rich soil.
Put the pot in indirect sunlight and make sure it’s in a humid environment. The temperature should be warm but not too hot. In two to three weeks you should see sprouting, followed by leaves. This is a sign that your Birkin propagation has been a success 🙂
Other Philodendron Birkin care FAQs
I’ve had my Birkin for quite a while and have received a lot of questions about caring for it since publishing this article. I’m including a few of those Q&As below.
Why is my Philodendron Birkin yellow?
You’re probably overwatering it, or the soil is too heavy. I left my Birkin in the soil from the nursery for quite a while and finally repotted it a few months ago.
I used a high-quality indoor potting soil with a handful of orchid bark, a handful of coco coir or fine moss, and some extra perlite added in. This is all to help with moisture retention without making the soil too soggy and wet.
I water my plant thoroughly, letting the excess soil drain out the bottom of the planter. Then I wait until the soil completely dries out before watering again. I haven’t had any issues with yellow leaves.
Is the Birkin toxic?
Sadly, yes. Sorry! All philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic when ingested. For both humans and animals. So it’s best to keep this plant away from kitties, kids, and other pets. I have mind in the bottom of my Ikea greenhouse cabinet.
Are Philodendron Birkins rare?
No, not anymore. When I originally got my Birkin, they were super hard to find. I paid like 50 bucks for mine at a nursery down the road. Now you can find them in Walmarts for like 15 bucks. But that’s okay, more people can enjoy them now! And I still love mine.
Are Philodendron Birkins vulnerable to pests?
Birkins are about as vulnerable to pests as other houseplants, but since they thrive in higher humidity levels, they are especially vulnerable to spider mites. Spider mites love warm, dry environments, so keeping humidity levels high is a great way to help prevent spider mites.
If you notice webbing on the undersides of the leaves, it’s likely spider mites. Have a look at how to detect and get rid of spider mites here.
I’m hoping you found the care info I outlined in this article to be helpful! The Birkin is a gorgeous plant and definitely makes a statement. I’d love to know if you have any more questions—drop me a line!