Learn all about philodendron birkin care, including its origin, how much light it needs, and what to do if it loses variegation! Caring for this beautiful tropical plant is easy!
How to care for your beautiful Philodendron Birkin
If you haven’t heard of a Philodendron Birkin yet, you’re not alone. They’re a new, beautiful philodendron hybrid variety, and they make the perfect houseplant! They are 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.
Philodendron Birkin origin
Philodendrons were first discovered in the 1600s in Brazil’s rainforests. Philodendron actually means “tree lover” in Greek. Philodendrons are a diverse genus made up of 489 species, 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.
The way that Birkins came to exist is a cool story, too. 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.
Now, all new Birkin plants are produced via tissue culture. Birkins have the ability to 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.
Philodendron Birkin growth
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. Birkins grow best in humidity, damp soil, and indirect sunlight.
Birkins have evergreen foliage, so the pretty leaves survive throughout the year. They have dark, green, glossy leaves with variegation. The leaves have creamish, white pinstripes which appear as the leaves mature. These unique leaves can grow as long as 20 centimeters, and are in the shape of ovals with pointed tips.
These plants can grow anywhere from 50 to 100 centimeters tall, but because they are slow-growing, this could take a while. To keep your Birkin growing, regularly wipe the leaves clean of dust and replenish with nutrient-rich soil.
One thing to keep in mind is that Birkin plants are toxic and have calcium oxalate crystals. Ingestion of these toxic crystals can cause issues with kidneys, so keep them away from children and pets.
What to do if the Birkin loses variegation
If he new growth on your Birkin starts producing non-varietgated leaves, it means it is reverting back to its non-variegated form. You can try to resverse this by cutting back the plant to the last variegated leaf. So, that means cutting the non-variegated leaves away.
Full disclosure, I have never had to do this with a plant. I have just read that it’s a recommended course of action to regain variegation in a plant that is reverting. If you’ve done this successfully, I’d love to know! Here’s a shot of a leaf reverting.
What kind of light is best for the Birkin?
An important thing to remember about Birkins is that direct sunlight is their worst enemy. It’s probably 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 respond best to indirect or shaded sunlight.
A great place to keep your plant is behind a thin shade or on an east-facing windowsill. Interestingly enough, 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 under a grow light.
Soil and water needs
Nutrient-rich soil that retains moisture is best for Philodendron Birkins. The soil should retain water without flooding the plant or becoming soggy. A good peat-based soil will absorb moisture and increase aeration without waterlogging the roots. Something to keep in mind—soil that is in unglazed clay or ceramic pots will dry out faster than in glazed or plastic ones.
One of the most crucial aspects of Philodendron Birkin care is keeping your plant hydrated. In spring and summer, the soil must stay damp, but in winter the soil should mostly dry out before you water it again. Drainage is necessary to keep healthy roots; if it’s overwatered it could develop root rot.
If you notice the leaves are drooping, it could be an indication you’re not watering your Birkin properly. Waterings one to two times a week, but be sure the top soil is dry before watering again.
Birkins and humidity
Humidity is another thing you should watch out for when caring for your Birkin. Remember, Philodendrons come from the rainforest, so they grow best in the most possible 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 mist the leaves or add a humidifier. During their growing season, mist them every two days, and in the winter, you can cut that down to twice a week. Another great way to maintain their humidity is putting them on a pebble tray filled with water, so that as the water evaporates, the plant benefits directly.
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.
How to propagate the 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, peat-based soil or basic, nutrient-rich soil. Place 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 🙂