The Philodendron Birkin is a stunningly beautiful foliage plant that is rare but growing in popularity. Part of the reason is that it is a fairly new cultivar compared to the others in its genus.
With similar tropical origins, the plant’s main attraction are its green, heart-shaped leaves that are adorned with white or yellow pinstripes that run from the midrib all the way to the edges.
These variegations make it look more like a calathea or a maranta (prayer plant). But, it doesn’t start out that way.
In fact, in its juvenile stages, the Philodendron Birkin’s leaves are solid green. As it matures, the stripes start developing and keep getting better looking as it ages, before reaching the variegations that most of us are familiar with.
It is slow growing plant that gets to about 3 feet tall indoors. This puts it in the middle of the bunch as far as philodendrons go as some are vining ones get very long and thin stems where as others are short with large leaves.
Best of all, it is easy to care for. Although, there are one or two aspects where you want to focus on which can trip you up if you’re not aware of it. I’ll discuss these below.
Philodendron Birkin Plant Care
Philodendron Birkin Light
Like many in its genus, the Philodendron Birkin grows best when given bright, indirect light. It is a fairly durable plant that can tolerate different lighting conditions.
The one thing to avoid is lots of direct sunlight. While the plant loves sunshine, its leaves cannot tolerate more than 1 to 2 hours or so of direct sunlight daily
Otherwise, they will get damaged in addition to drying up quickly.
That said, it won’t be happy when there’s too little light as well. In dim locations, the plant’s growth will become stunted. It will also get leggy as it tries to reach out towards wherever the light is coming from.
In dark spots, its health will deteriorate.
As such, an east facing window is the best place to grow your Philodendron Birkin. This gives it lots of morning sunshine that isn’t intense.
The next best place to put it indoors is a west facing window. Here you’ll want to either position it away from the afternoon sun or keep it at least 3 to 6 feet from the window opening. This will place it far enough from the direct path of the sun’s rays.
Northern and southern exposures are not ideal for opposite reasons. The former has a good chance of having too little light. Although it may work if you live in the warmer areas of that country.
The south not only gives you intense afternoon sun, but also the longest hours of sunlight. Both of which are too much for the plant to tolerate without some kind of shade or distancing from the window opening.
Finally, there’s the option of grow lights. This is a very practical option if you can’t get enough light or don’t have a spot that’s well lit. You can use it on its own or to supplement natural light.
On its own, you’ll need to give the plant at least 12 hours of grow lights. But, don’t overdo it. Plants need a combination of light and dark much like people do (photoperiodism). During the dark times, it rests and recovers much like we do when we sleep.
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Philodendron Birkin Temperature
Your Philodendron Birkin’s native habitat is living under the canopy of larger plants and trees in tropical forests. Thus, much like it likes a lot of bright light that’s not from direct sun, it also stays somewhat in the middle when it comes to temperature.
Ideal temperatures hover between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. While it can tolerate going up or down about 5 to 10 degrees each way, it will begin to struggle past those thresholds.
As such, too hot or too cold are bad for the plant. And, that goes back to it growing in a tropical forest. But, under the shade of tree branches and dense foliage.
This means that if you live in an area where it freezes during the winter, you’ll want to bring the plant indoors if it lives outside during the warmer months. Otherwise, it won’t survive the cold winter.
Philodendron Birkin Humidity
Its tropical natural likewise means that the Philodendron Birkin loves humidity. The good news is, it can tolerate average household humidity. But, the higher the humidity, the healthier and better looking they are.
The one thing you want to avoid to low humidity. Unfortunately, some households have dry air. This is especially true during the wintertime. As such, allowing the humidity to drop under 40% is a no-no.
The best way to tell is to get a digital hygrometer. It is inexpensive and lets you know the exact humidity in any room in your home.
If humidity is consistently in the low 40s or 30s, you’ll likely need a humidifier. Otherwise, a few other natural strategies will work.
- Misting as few times a week
- Keeping the plant in a well-lit bathroom
- Grouping it with other plants to take advantage of transpiration
- Placing it on top of pebbles in a water tray
If humidity is too low, you’ll see the leaf tips and edges start to turn brown.
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Watering is the most challenging part of caring for your Philodendron Birkin. Unfortunately, it is also the most important one. So, this is where you put in the work.
Because watering is somewhat tricky for the plant. The reason being that it enjoys slightly moist soil all the time. But, you can’t get it too wet or let it sit in soggy or waterlogged soil. Otherwise, you run the risk of root rot to which is it susceptible to.
So, there’s a balancing act you need to figure out.
Similarly, you don’t want to let soil dry out completely.
Finally, there’s the change in weather and when it grows and rests.
In the spring and summer, the weather is warm which causes water to evaporate faster. Add to that the fact that the Birkin’s growing season is between spring and summer, means that you need to water regularly.
In contrast, the opposite is true in the colder months. Cool and freezing weather mean low evaporation. The plant also slows down growth-wise in the fall and almost completely stops in wintertime.
As such, water needs are very low.
So, it is a good idea to let soil dry out between waterings. This reduces the chance of overwatering.
How to Water Philodendron Birkin
What this means is keeping a regular watering routing throughout the entire year is a bad idea.
Instead, it is better to get a feel for the soil. By learning how to tell when the soil is wet or soggy, moist or dry, you’ll know when to water.
Next up is depth.
How deep should the dryness feel?
Ideally, 1 to 2 inches down from the surface of the soil. This is deep enough to so that when dry, the plant isn’t overly dry yet. And, the dryness hasn’t reached the roots. You don’t want them to get dehydrated.
So, if you stick your finger into the soil and a chunk of soil comes up with it. That’s wet soil. it’s muddy. And, it is too much for your plant.
Once you feel that the 2 inch depth is dry, it is time to water again. Don’t worry if you’re a day or even three late. It won’t mind some dryness. Remember, this is just 2 inches deep.
That would be another stop if it is more than halfway dry down the pot.
A warning sign here is a wilting plant. This is the initial symptom that it needs water. If left unwatered the leaves will become dry and turn yellow and drop.
If you find that you’re having trouble getting the feel of the soil, use a moisture meter instead. This is easier as you just stick the device into he soil and check the digital reading. It is inexpensive as well.
Philodendron Birkin Soil
In general, your Philodendron Birkin isn’t picky about soil. You can use regular potting mix. Although, I prefer high quality potting soil because it is more likely to be loose and airy.
Both features are favorable for the plant.
The most important thing about soil for your Philodendron Birkin is it has to be well-draining. This goes back the preventing overwatering.
Well-draining soil does not mean it drains the soil very efficiently to the point that no water is left after a short period of time. That’s what light (sandy) soil does.
Instead, well-draining means it allows water to escape at a good pace.
You can think of it like a percolator or filter for coffee. It is porous enough to let the coffee get through, but not in a way where all the liquid just goes through instantly. Instead, it is a gradual, albeit fast, release of the coffee.
This is the same thing with well-draining soil. By doing so, it prevents moisture from pooling, which can result in root rot. This is the #1 thing to have with soil for your Birkin.
As such, there are a few ways to achieve this.
- Use regular potting soil, then add perlite to improve drainage
- Get a peat moss based soil mix. This gives you a course texture that retains water just enough while being loose and aerated so that excess moisture can pass through.
- Use sphagnum peat moss
To support the fast growth of your Philodendron Birkin, you’ll need to supply it with plant food during its growing season (spring and summer)
During this time apply water-soluble fertilizer once every 2 to 4 weeks at 50% the suggested strength. Make sure that the product you use contains micronutrients in addition to the macronutrients.
Some products don’t include them. So, do read the label or ask the person at the counter in the garden center.
You want to make sure that the fertilizer your use contains calcium and magnesium. These are two important elements needed by philodendron to stay healthy. Otherwise, you can end up with pale leaves from their deficiency.
In the winter, scale back on feeding.
Your Philodendron Birkin doesn’t need a lot of pruning other than for keeping its size and form or removing dead or damaged leaves.
It is worth noting that this is a fairly fast growing plant when given the right conditions and fed properly. Thus, you may need to trim it a few times a year depending on how you display it as it may get too dense or too big for that spot.
Indoors it will grow to between 1.5 to 3 feet tall. Bigger outdoors. So, you may need to make enough room for it.
Something else worth noting is that you’ll also want to clean its leaves every so often. Clean leaves allow the plant to absorb more light from the sun.
Unfortunately, these do collect dust. As such, wiping them with a damp cloth is a good idea every few weeks.
If you live in a dusty area like the desert or somewhere near traffic, you may want to just give the plant a shower in the sink every so often. It is quicker than wiping the leaves one by one. And it allows the plant to get moisture.
But, make sure to place it somewhere to dry after. Good air circulation and some sun (not direct) will speed up drying. This will avoid fungal problems.
Philodendron Birkin Propagation
There are a few ways to propagate your philodendron birkin. These easiest of which is stem cutting.
It also allows you to get a clone of the mother plant.
The best time to do this is during spring or early in the summer. This gives the plant time to grow immediately afterwards.
Here’s how to propagate philodendron birkin from stem cutting.
Choose a healthy stem with at least a couple of leaves.
- Cut a 4 to 6 inch stem about a quarter or half an inch below a leaf node.
- Place the stem cutting into a glass of water. Make sure to remove the leaves that will end up under the water.
- Change the water every few days to keep it clear.
- The benefit of rooting the cutting in water is you can see the roots as they develop. This will tell you when they’re good to go. Or, if they’re not growing at all. Remember, propagation is not 100%. So, not every stem will turn out to become a new plant. With soil propagation, you can’t see the roots.
- In about 3 to 4 weeks, roots should start developing.
- All them to grow over an inch. Then, move them to a container that’s filled with soil.
- If the cutting doesn’t stand upright, you can use a stick to support it.
- Water the soil and keep it moist.
- Place the plant in a bright space with indirect lighting. You also want that location to be warm and humid.
Philodendron Birkin Transplanting & Repotting
You’ll need to repot your philodendron Birkin ever 12 to 24 months. A lot of this depends on how quickly it grows. That, in turn depends on its living conditions, including how much light, water, fertilizer it receives. The kind of soil and weather it lives in also affects growth.
Thus, no two plants will grow at the same rate or to the exact size or breadth, even if they’re propagated from the same parent plant because some of these factors will vary at some point.
Thus, the best way to tell is to observe the plant. Once its roots start showing outside of the holes, that’s a sign that it wants more room. Similarly, the roots will try to “break out” from the surface of the soil.
When this happens, it is time to grab a slightly bigger pot (1 to 2 inches larger) and some fresh, well-draining soil.
Then, carefully take out the plant and plant it into the larger container.
While out of the pot, you can likewise opt to separate or divide it. This will let you use the same pot because the remaining mother plant is now smaller.
By division or separating you get a part of the plant and pot it separately. This will leave you with two smaller plants from the larger mother plant.
It is a good way to grow more plants or reducing the size of a parent plant.
The Philodendron Birkin contains calcium oxalate crystals. And, a high amount of it. This makes it toxic to both people and pets. Thus, it is a good idea to keep young children, dogs and cats away as they may playful chew or ingest parts of the plant.
Pests and Diseases
A healthy philodendron birkin isn’t prone to pest or disease problems. But there are some pests that will attack your plant and try to suck the nutrients out of it. The most prominent of which are spider mites. These pesky creatures will cause your plant to deteriorate is it robs its sustenance by taking its sap. Another potential problem are mealybugs.
With either, your want to find them as early as possible and treat as quickly as possible.
When it comes to disease, your biggest threat is moisture. Since the plant likes high humidity, it can be prone to fungal problems. Similarly, overwatering can lead to root rot.