Get ahead of the trend by adding Philodendron Birkin to your plant collection. You’ll need to be quick though, this hybrid plant is growing in popularity and not quite so rare as it once was.
Philodendron Birkin is an evergreen plant that has an eye-catching bright white pinstripe patterning that appears as the plant matures after 2 or so years.
These pinstripes contrast so vividly against the dark green waxy leaves that can also sometimes be red or cream-colored.
Position Bright indirect sunlight
Watering Water when soil is dry
Size 3 ft tall by 2 ft spread
Climate 65 °F to 75 °F plus 50% + humidity
Propagate Stem cuttings (or seeds)
Seasonality Winter dormant
Toxicity Poisonous to people, cats, and dogs
The leaves of Philodendron Birkin are oval in shape with a pointed tip and can grow up to 8 inches. This plant is a slow grower and is compact so it won’t take up vast amounts of space in your home.
Now, there are two theories in terms of how this plant came to be. The majority of consensus rests with a rare and spontaneous mutation that occurred in the Philodendron Rojo Congo plant. The owner separated the leaf from the parent plant and propagated it. Others believe that the hybrid originated in Thailand and is a hybrid of Rojo Congo and Green-Leaf Philodendron.
Either way, the variegation of these plants is not entirely stable and I have heard of many occasions where they have begun to revert back into a Rojo Congo. I’ve even read about them mutating further. More about what you can do if your Philodendron Birkin begins to lose its variegation and revert back later in this article.
Of course, this plant doesn’t exist in the wild however, many varieties of Philodendron still do. Records of these plants date back to the 17th century when they were discovered in the rainforests of South America. They derive from the Araceae family of plants which is made up of more than 450 species.
Some varieties of Philodendron are climbing plants with aerial roots and others – as with this variety – are self-heading types where thick stems emerging from the center of the plant. If you are concerned that your Philodendron Birkin is leaning to one side you could stake it with a bamboo stick just to provide a little extra support.
Philodendron species range in size considerably from modest houseplants that will nestle pleasingly on a table in your home to the vines of the Philodendron Hastatum that can grow over 10 feet long and have leaves that are two feet in length.
The name Philodendron is derived from two Greek words. Philo meaning ‘love’ and dendron meaning ‘tree’. Understandable really because of the way some species of this plant creep and climb around the trunk of nearby trees using their aerial roots. And so loosely translated Philodendron means ‘tree hugger’.
Philodendron Birkin Care
If you are captivated by the charm of this compact hybrid Philodendron then it might just be time to take advantage of its relative newness and invest in one for yourself. This plant is a sure-fire way to get heads turning and tongues wagging. And, you will be pleased to know that this plant is easy to care for.
These plants are accustomed to the dappled light of the Brazilian rainforest and love heat, humidity and indirect sunlight in equal measure.
They make great houseplants and are best positioned indoors in a bright spot but away from direct sunlight as this can scorch their leaves or cause leaves to drop off. Likewise, if they don’t receive enough light, you may notice that the growth rate of your plant decreases, or your plant begins to look leggy, or possibly the leaves will lose some of their vivid greenness.
They grow best in a warm environment of at least 60°F and are known to suffer if temperatures drop below 50°F. They also need a draft-free space and a good deal of humidity, preferring levels of 50% or above.
To notch up the humidity levels for your plant you could invest in a humidifier. Alternatively, you could mist the leaves of your plant regularly and position your plant next to other humidity-loving plants.
A further way of increasing humidity is to place stones or pebbles in the tray that collects water below the pot in which your plant sits.
All this might sound as if these are needy plants but really if you get the positioning of your plant correct – that is to say, somewhere that remains constantly warm and humid and is free from draughts – then this plant will love you for it and reward you by thriving.
Height & Spread
Some plants are bought to quickly fill a space in your home and create a dramatic effect. Others are better at adding interest to smaller spaces and Philodendron Birkin is one such plant.
These are slow-growing plants that are thought to take up to ten years to fully reach maturity.
Not much has been documented about fully mature Philodendron Birkin other than they are compact in nature and are thought to grow up to three feet in height with a spread of approximately two feet.
You would, however, need optimum growing conditions for this.
Watering Philodendron Birkin
To keep your Philodendron Birkin in tip-top condition and to encourage new growth and a stronger, healthier plant water it regularly during spring and summer and not allow the soil to become too dry. In the winter when your plant is dormant, you should water it less.
The best indicator of when to water your plant is to check how dry the soil is. To do this simply insert two fingers into the soil around your plant – at least 2 inches deep – to check for moisture. If the soil is dry it’s time to water your plants. However, if it is damp then hold off watering and check again in a few days.
If you tend to be a little overzealous when it comes to watering your plants, then it’s a good idea to invest in a soil moisture test kit. This is a great way to take the guesswork out of when you need to water your plants and you can use it to test the moisture levels for all your plants, so it comes in very handy.
It is always better to underwater Philodendron Birkin rather than overwater. These plants will not thank you for being left to sit in soggy soil. Indeed, they are prone to root rot if their roots remain wet for extended periods of time.
When you do water a Philodendron it’s best to take it out of the decorative container and place it in the sink. Give it a good watering until water runs through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. When all of the excess water has drained away you can place it back into its decorative pot or container. This is done so that water is not allowed to collect at the bottom of the decorative pot.
Signs of over-watering include yellowing of the leaves and signs that your plant needs water are drooping leaves.
Philodendrons need well aerated soil that does not hold lots of moisture. This is because they don’t like soggy roots.
Use a good quality houseplant soil mix that contains organic minerals such as perlite or grit, a substrate such as orchid or pine bark as well as coco coir, sphagnum moss, and charcoal to help control moisture levels. This will create a healthy airflow for the roots of your plant and will keep the roots happy and your plant thriving.
I tend to buy good-quality houseplant soil and add in extra minerals and my go-to is always Espoma Organic Potting Mix.
This one has Espoma’s patented myco-tone formula that helps to aerate the soil so that roots stand a better chance of being kept dry. It does contain perlite but even so, I like to add more to help further with drainage.
A further way of enhancing adequate drainage is to aerate the soil around your plant to make sure it is not too compacted around the roots. Tightly compacted soil will prevent water from draining properly. Simply use the handle end of a wooden spoon or a knitting needle (if you don’t have a specialist tool) to gently prod and poke the soil being careful not to get too close to the roots or indeed, damage them.
Because Philodendron Birkin is a slow grower and does not need to be re-potted very often there is sometimes a tendency to forget about replenishing the soil. I like to change the soil at least every other season to add that boost of nutrients that comes with using fresh soil.
There is no doubt that fertilizer helps Philodendrons to grow and develop strong roots, but you need to be pretty careful not to overdo it. These plants don’t do well in salty soils and let’s face it, over-fertilizing is a big culprit in the build-up of salt in soil. Because of this, I will only fertilize my Philodendron during their growing season and even then, very cautiously to prevent overfeeding.
I appreciate that organic fertilizers often get bad press for not being as effective and having, well, an ‘organic’ smell but they are a great choice for Philodendron. They are more gentle on your plants and usually contain fewer salts than synthetic varieties.
Regardless of the choice you make, you should always dilute your fertilizer and never use it at full strength.
Philodendron Birkin only needs fertilizing in spring and then once every month thereafter until the end of summer. This plant won’t need to be fertilized during the winter dormant period because they take on very little nutrients during this time and growth is minimal.
Once you have diluted your fertilizer to half strength make sure you direct it towards the soil rather than anywhere near the plant. Too much fertilizer can cause damage to the stem, leaves, and roots if you use too much.
Your plant will also need to be watered in between fertilizing to flush out any residual build-up and to prevent over-fertilizing that may result in damage to roots.
As an alternative to fertilizing you can add a small amount of compost or worm castings to the potting soil instead. Do this when you are repotting or replenishing the soil as I have suggested every other season. This option is a way of providing organic nutrients that will suffice until at least the next time you re-pot or change the soil.
It is a good idea to add extra minerals when you do this though as the drainage of the soil may be compromised slightly by this new addition.
How to Prune Philodendron Birkin
One the best things about owning a Philodendron Birkin plant is watching the leaves unfurl and anticipate the unique variation and color of each leaf. Even more pleasingly, the foliage is here to stay for a good while and so pruning can be kept to a minimum.
Pruning a Philodendron is all about removing the occasional dying leaf or trimming away the occasional brown or yellow edge. The fact that it is self-heading means it usually retains an asymmetric shape anyway so there really is no need to go crazy with the pruning knife.
Whenever you do prune, always use clean and sterile pruning tools. It is perfectly ok to remove any dying or yellowing leaves at any time of year.
Philodendron Birkin is a slow grower and will not need repotting very often. Choose a decorative pot or container that you love as chances are, you’ll keeping it for a long time.
When your plant does show signs of becoming pot bound for example, where roots begin to grow from drainage holes or the plant looks to have outgrown its container then it is time for a new pot or container.
The best time to re-pot is during spring or summer when the plant is growing well and has time to get acclimated to its new home.
Repotting this plant is straight forward and it won’t suffer too much as a result. Just make sure the new pot or container has good-sized drainage holes and always use fresh well-draining soil that you have mixed with extra minerals to help with drainage.
Because Philodendron is susceptible to root rot, it is a good idea to check the condition of the roots for any signs of rot whilst you have the plant out of its container. Brush away excess soil so you get good visibility of the health of the roots. Wet and slimy, dark brown or black areas on the roots are a clear indicator of root rot.
You will need to gently trim away all traces of root rot using a sharp sterile knife or scissors. I always re-sanitize the cutting tools after each snip to minimize the risk of spreading the disease to healthy parts of the roots.
How To Propagate Philodendron Birkin
Propagating by stem cutting is the best way increase your population of Philodendron Birkin.
This is an easy enough process providing you take the cutting from the correct place on the stem and you propagate in the summer months when it is generally warmer and the plant is actively growing anyway.
First, find a healthy-looking leaf. Now work your way down its stem until you get to a node that is near to the base of the plant. You want to take your cutting from just below the node and always use a sterile and sharp knife or pair of scissors to do so.
You can choose to propagate in either water or soil. Personally, I like to propagate in water just because I love to watch the progress of the roots developing.
Put the cutting in a propagation station or vase of water so that the node is submerged but the leaf is above the level of the water.
Keep it in a warm, bright spot, and be patient. In a few weeks, you’ll see some roots growing. When the roots get to approximately 1 inch long you can plant them in soil and water when the soil is almost completely dry.
Common Problems With Philodendron Birkin
There are a few things that can go wrong with Philodendron. Luckily these plants seem to wear their heart on their sleeves and problems are easy to spot.
Brown leaf tips
If you notice that the leaves of your Philodendron are turning brown and seem crisp to the touch, chances are your plant is either not receiving enough water or, is receiving too much direct sun. Start by checking the moisture level in the soil. If it feels dry when you press two fingers at least two inches below the surface, then your plant is going to need a drink.
You should also take a good look throughout the day at where your plant is positioned. Is it getting too much sun or even direct sun? It’s fine to stay in a bright room but just move it away from any intense rays.
Another common problem with Philodendron is drooping leaves. This is often a sign of underwatering. Again, check the moisture levels in the soil and if the soil is dry 2 inches below the surface, then it’s time to give your plant watering.
I like to remove my plant from its ornate pot and place the plant in the sink. I give it a thorough watering until the water runs freely from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Once the water has stopped running through I return it to the ornate pot. Doing this prevents excess water from collecting in the drip tray and prevents the roots of your plant from sitting around in soggy soil.
Yellowing of the outer edges of leaves
When the outer leaves of your Philodendron become yellow it is likely that it has been overwatered and there are a number of ways this may have occurred. It may be that your plant has received too much water, or it may be that the soil is not well-draining enough. It could also be that water is not draining through the drainage holes of the pot after it has been watered, thus allowing the plant to sit in wet soil.
To remedy overwatering the first thing you need to do is stop watering your plant until the soil is dry. A common mistake that is often made is watering a plant having only glanced at the top layer of soil that looks dry. You really do have to get the moisture deep within the soil to know what’s going on at the root level.
I always think it’s a good idea to remove an overwatered plant from the pot to give the roots a chance to dry out. If you do this, make sure you brush away all of the excess soil that’s clinging to the roots. While they are drying out you can have a thorough inspection of the roots and check for any sign of root rot. Root rot is not good news for your plant and will need to be trimmed away for your plant to have any chance of recovery.
Use a sharp sterile knife or scissors to trim off any brown or black and soft and mushy roots as these are most certainly diseased. To avoid spreading the disease to healthy parts of the roots it is best to re-sanitize the knife or scissors after each cut.
Allow the cut roots to dry before repotting with fresh well-draining potting soil that contains plenty of grit or perlite and make sure you have sanitized the pot or container too. You may need to use a new pot or container if you think the drainage holes are not big enough on the previous one.
Once the roots are dry, replant your Philodendron Birkin in fresh well-draining soil mixed with extra grit and perlite and resume a much less frequent watering schedule.
Leggy stems, slow growth or smaller than average leaves
Leggy stems and small leaves are likely to mean that your Philodendron Birkin isn’t getting enough light. Whilst these plants won’t tolerate bright sunlight, neither do they like shade so getting their positioning just right is one of the keys to a happy, healthy, and thriving plant.
If you think that your Philodendron is not growing enough or you have noticed stems that seem leggy then it’s worth finding a new position for your plant. Make sure it has plenty of light but is away from direct sunlight and draughts and make sure that there is plenty of humidity too.
One mistake I have made in the past with humidity-loving plants is to position them in a bathroom. Makes sense right since the bathroom is one room where you’re guaranteed increased humidity. My problem was that the window in my bathroom at the time was quite small. So my plant was getting the humidity levels it needed but not enough bright light.
If you are positioning yours in a bathroom, make sure the window is big enough to let in enough bright light to keep your plant happy. Otherwise, find a new position.