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November 21, 2022

Philodendron Birkin Care & Complete Growing Guide

Would you like to learn how to care for your Philodendron Birkin plant? After reading this comprehensive guide, which covers everything from light and temperature requirements to fertilizing, repotting and the most common pests, you will be able to care for Philodendron Birkin like a pro.

Botanical Name (Latin Name/Scientific Name):  Philodendron birkin
Common Name:  Philodendron ‘White wave’
Light: medium light (750 lux to 3,000 lux or more)
Watering: when the top 2″ are dry for smaller plants/once the top half of the soil is dry for larger plants
Soil: well-draining mix
Repotting: Once a year
Temperature: 65ºF (18ºC) to 85ºF (29ºC)
Humidity: 25% to 50%, but it adapts well to lower humidity
Toxicity for Pets:  Yes
Toxicity for Humans:  Yes
Propagation: stem or tip cutting/division/air layering
Pruning: prune dead or diseased growth or when you want the plant to branch out

Philodendron Birkin is a member of a large Philodendron genus, alongside about 500 other species. Philodendron plants are native to South America and they can be divided into two types: vining and self-heading. Vining philodendrons climb towards trees, whereas the self-heading ones grow upright. Birkin is a self-heading philodendron type, boasting variegated lush dark green leaves streaked with vivid yellow or white pinstripes.

Philodendron ‘White wave’ with six variegated leaves

Philodendron Birkin with gorgeous creamy white variegation

The story of the origin of this striking plant is quite interesting. Philodendron Birkin can’t be found in the wild, and it is a result of a rare spontaneous mutation on a Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’. The plant was then separated and cultivated. Birkin became trendy due to its distinctive foliage and since Philodendron Birkin care isn’t too complicated, this plant is also a great choice for new plant parents.

Philodendron Birkin Care and Growth

Light Requirements

Minimal amount of light:  1,000+ lux (100+ FC)
Optimal amount of light:  2,500+ lux (250+ FC)
Direct sun tolerance: 2-3 hours
Category: medium light

Philodendron Birkin does best in medium light. It needs a minimum of 1,000 lux (100 FC) of medium indirect light, but to optimize your plant growth, strive for at least 2,500 lux (250 FC). Birkins can tolerate 2-3 hours of direct sun, in the early morning or very late in the afternoon.

Like with other variegated plants, it’s important to find balance when it comes to light if you want to have good variegation. You don’t want to scorch or bleach your plant’s beautiful leaves with too much direct sun, but you also don’t want the variegation fading due to lack of light. If you can’t provide enough natural light, the best way to give your Birkin optimal light is to place it on a shelf with grow lights.

Water Needs

Optimal hydration is one of the key elements when it comes to Philodendron Birkin care. If you have a smaller Birkin plant, water it when the top two inches of soil dry out. If you have a larger plant, wait until the top half of the soil is dry, before hydrating your Birkin.

Philodendron Birkin watering schedule will depend on conditions in your home, such as humidity, temperature, etc. It’s important to check if the soil is dry before watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause your leaves to wilt.

Since the Philodendron Birkin plant doesn’t like overly moist soil, ensure that its container has drainage holes.

Best Soil for Philodendron Birkin

To make the best soil for your Philodendron Birkin mix the following:

  • 2 parts of any commercial potting mix
  • 1 part of perlite or another inorganic amendment

The amendments like perlite, bark, gritty sand, pumice, and vermiculite make soil airy and porous because they have large particles that create macro pores. Macro pores contain oxygen, which is vital for plant roots. Roots that get enough oxygen are vigorous and less susceptible to root rot and fungal infections. The amendments also ensure proper drainage, which is very important, since plants that sit in soggy soil have a higher risk of suffering from root rot.

Humidity Needs

Although Philodendron Birkin plant can’t be found in nature, it’s a member of the Philodendron genus, like other tropical plants belonging to this genus, it enjoys medium humidity, from 25% to 50%. It’s not very demanding when it comes to humidity, and your Philodendron Birkin will do absolutely fine even in lower humidity.

Temperature Requirements

The optimal temperature range for Birkins is from 65ºF (18ºC) to 85ºF (29ºC). Since Philodendrons prefer warmer temperatures, it’s important to protect them from cold and frost. Birkin plants are kept as a houseplant, so the regular temperature in your household will be great for them. If you’re comfortable in your home, your Philodendron Birkin will also be comfortable.

A hand holds a plant with big green variegated leaves

Philodendron Birkin displays striking white variegation with optimal growing conditions

Fertilizing

If you repot your Philodendron Birkin once a year, you don’t have to fertilize it, since the fresh soil will give your plant the necessary nutrients. If you want to fertilize your Birkin, you can do it by using a high-quality liquid fertilizer, such as Dyna Gro, which has all 16 macro and micronutrients that are essential for proper plant growth. Always read the instructions on the fertilizer packaging, to avoid accidentally overfertilizing your plant.

You don’t have to wait for spring and summer to fertilize your Birkin, as long as it’s actively growing, you can go for it. Fertilize your plant only when it’s actively growing so it can absorb the nutrients properly. If your plant isn’t actively growing, excess minerals will accumulate in soil and can burn the roots.

Repotting

If you want to repot your Philodendron Birkin, take the following steps:

  • Select a pot that is one size bigger than the one you’ve been using
  • Fill the pot up to one-third with well-draining potting soil
  • Take your Birkin gently out of its pot
  • Loosen the rootball
  • If the roots are mushy, smelly or rotten, prune them
  • Put your Philodendron Birkin in its new pot
  • Fill in the space with soil
  • Press firmly around the plant and water it

The rule of thumb is to repot your Philodendron plant annually, or when you notice that the plant has run out of space. You can check the drainage holes, and if you see that the roots are poking out, it’s time to repot your Birkin plant and provide it with fresh, non-compacted soil.
Only go one size up (2” up in diameter) when choosing a new pot. If you get a pot that’s too big it will contain too much soil, which would take longer to dry out. This could lead to root rot eventually.

Toxicity for Humans

Philodendron Birkin is toxic to humans, according to California Poison Control System. The sap and juice of Birkin plants have small calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the oral cavity. They can also cause throat swelling and breathing difficulties.

Toxicity for Pets

Like other Philodendrons, Philodendron Birkin plants are toxic to cats and dogs, according to ASPCA. It’s important to keep the plant out of the reach of your pets since it can cause irritation of the mouth and tongue and provoke drooling, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing.

Pruning

You can prune your Philodendron Birkin plant if its leaves are brown, dry and dead or are diseased. You can also prune if you want your plant to branch out. In that case, just cut off the top of the stem, and the plant will branch out below the cut. Diseased parts of the plant should be promptly removed to stop the further spreading of the disease.

If your Philodendron Birkin is healthy, it’s not necessary to prune it.

Philodendron Birkin Propagation

You can propagate your Philodendron Birkin using one of the following techniques:

  • Stem/tip cuttings
  • Division
  • Air layering

Propagation by Stem/Tip Cuttings in Water

The simplest way to propagate your Philodendron Birkin is by stem/tip cuttings in water, with the following steps:

  1. Sterilize your shears or scissors to avoid accidentally infecting your plant
  2. Pick a sturdy and healthy stem
  3. Cut about an inch below the growth node, make sure that your stem cutting has at least two growth nodes (node is a part from which a plant’s leaf grows)
  4. Remove the Birkin leaves from the lower half of the stem cutting (no leaves should be submerged in the water)
  5. Put the cutting in a glass container with water
  6. Place the glass container in a warm spot with lots of bright, indirect light

Replace the water weekly or more often if you notice that it’s smelly or murky. After a couple of weeks the roots will be an inch or two inches long, and at that point you can plant the cutting in soil.

Philodendron Birkin Pests And Diseases

Pests

Although Philodendron Birkin plants are generally pest-free, they can become infested with mealy bugs, spider mites, or aphids. Plants that receive good care (proper light, watering and potting mix) are less susceptible to pests.

Mealybugs look like white, cottony masses on the surfaces of leaves, and they feed on plant sap. The infested plant’s growth is stunted, and in severe cases, some parts of the plant begin to die.

White mealy bugs feeding on plant sap

Mealy bugs feeding on plant sap

Spider mites are really small and hard to spot. A silky web is usually seen with more severe infestations. They damage the plant by sucking the sap. The leaves of the infested plant become yellow or bronzed. Neem oil is a great remedy against spider mites.

Aphids are small insects with soft bodies, usually green, but they can be brown, pink, or yellow. They feed on new growth and on the leaves. Aphids suck Philodendron Birkin plant’s sap which causes the leaves to become yellow and deformed.

Luckily, if you carefully monitor your Philodendron Birkin, and notice the pests early on, you can usually resolve the issue by handpicking. You can also forcefully spray water to remove the pests, just make sure to spray the entire plant.

Fungal Diseases

The most common fungal diseases affecting Philodendron Birkin are:

  • Phytophthora leaf spot – causes brown lesions, the best prevention is to grow plants in sterilized potting media
  • Pythium root and stem rot – causes yellowing and wilting of Birkin leaves, and mushy roots, the best prevention is to ensure the soil is porous, non-compacted, and well-draining
  • Southern blight – causes white cotton-like masses, the best prevention is using pathogen-free potting medium

You can find more info on philodendron diseases on the University of Florida website.

Philodendron Birkin Common Problems

Leaves Turning Yellow

Your Philodendron Birkin plant leaves may turn yellow due to aphids, spider mites, overwatering, underwatering, or it can be normal leaf senescence (older leaves dying). Inspect your plant and if you see any pests, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. To prevent yellow leaves from overwatering or underwatering water your Philodendron Birkin once the top two inches/top half of the soil are dry. If the previously listed reasons aren’t causing yellow leaves, it is leaf senescence – older leaves turn yellow and die as the plant grows new leaves.

Brown Tips

Brown tips can be caused by underwatering, very low humidity or too much fertilizer.

Healthy dropping leaves

Healthy leaves dropping can be caused by pest infestation, such as thrips. Thrips are small and slender yellow-to-black insects usually found on Birkin leaves. They scrape the surface cells of the plant to suck the sap. The leaves of the affected Philodendron Birkin will be speckled and they may drop early. You can get rid of thrips by using a systemic insecticide.

FAQs about Philodendron Birkin

What’s the Difference Between Philodendron Birkin and Philodendron Rojo Congo?

The difference between Philodendron Birkin and Philodendron Rojo Congo can be easily spotted by comparing their leaves. The young leaves of Rojo Congo are red, and as they mature they turn to burgundy-green leaves with red petioles and stems. On the other hand, Philodendron Birkin has creamy yellowish pinstriped variegation.

Is Philodendron Birkin rare?

Philodendron Birkin is not as rare as it used to be, due to its increasing demand and popularity. Many plant shops have started to include Philodendron Birkin in their collections.

Why is the variegation fading on my Philodendron Birkin?

Variegation on your Philodendron Birkin is fading either due to insufficient bright indirect light, or because it’s starting to revert to Philodendron ‘Rojo’. Philodendron Birkin reverting to Rojo can happen when your plant doesn’t have optimal growing conditions. If your plant is reverting, you should cut it back to the last leaf that is fully variegated and hope that the new Philodendron Birkin leaf will be variegated.

Philodendron ‘White wave’ with dark-green variegated leaves

Dark green Philodendron Birkin leaf showing beautiful with variegation with proper plant care

Bright indirect light promotes variegation, so if the Birkins don’t receive enough light their variegation will fade. However, keep in mind that direct sunlight can damage and scorch the leaves, so keep your Birkin away from too much direct sunlight. If you care for Philodendron Birkin properly, it will reward you with stable beautiful creamy variegation. You can check this blog post to learn more about what is indirect light for plants.

Yours Truly,

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