If you’ve been looking for an unusual houseplant to brighten up your home, you might have come across Philodendron ‘Birkin’. Somewhat of a new kid on the block, this man-made Philodendron variety was named after the Birkin line of designer bags by Hermès – among the most expensive bags in the world. Luckily, the plant version isn’t nearly as costly (anymore) and Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care is a breeze.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care and growing this beautiful houseplant in your own home.
|Name(s)||Philodendron ‘Birkin’, Philodendron ‘White Wave’|
|Recommended lighting||Bright indirect|
|Water||Keep lightly moist|
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ origin
This section is where we normally discuss the natural habitat of a plant. However, this one is the result of selective cultivation. As such, Philodendron ‘Birkin’ is one of the many varieties (referred to as cultivars) of Philodendron that doesn’t technically have a natural habitat. It’s the result of a spontaneous mutation of Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’, itself a patented cultivar.
By the way, to prevent confusion – you might also see Philodendron ‘Birkin’ referred to as Philodendron ‘White Wave’ or even ‘Birkin White Wave’!
Naturally occurring Philodendrons similar to ‘Birkin’ are found in northern South America, as far down as Northern Brazil. Here, they can be found in pretty diverse habitat types, often in humid tropical areas like forests and swamps.
Did you know? For a bit of (somewhat complicated) background info, Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’, which gave birth to Philodendron ‘Birkin’, is also a man-made cultivar. It was created in Florida and its parents were a variety of Philodendron tatei (male) and a Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’ (female). If you’re still following, it gets more convoluted: Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’, in turn, was patented in Belgium in 1982 after a greenish-maroon spontaneous mutation with unknown parents was discovered in a nursery in Florida. Quite a history!Google Patents: Philodendron plant named ‘Rojo Congo’ / Google Patents: Philodendron plant named Imperial Red
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care: Light & temperature
Like other Philodendrons, Philodendron ‘Birkin’ likes bright but indirect light. It’s not a fan of full sun, as its wild ancestors have developed to adapt to the strongest rays being blocked out by taller trees in their jungle habitats.
Note that the above doesn’t mean that your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ will do well in a dark spot, or even a low-medium light one. It might survive, sure, but don’t expect it to grow much! Even worse, if a ‘Birkin’ doesn’t get enough light, it might lose the pinstripes on its leaves that make it so spectacular.
As such, keep this plant near a window. Directly on the windowsill is great if it’s a window that doesn’t get as much light, while a few meters away is a good option if scorching sun comes through. If you have no such spot to offer, some artificial lights can help.
Because Philodendrons naturally occur mostly in pretty toasty tropical habitats, they don’t like the cold. Room temperature is perfect for them, so if you’re comfortable, then your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ likely is as well.
To keep your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ happy and healthy, try not to let things drop below around 55.5 °F/13 °C. A temperature of around 86 °F/30 °C is around the maximum, although it’s not a disaster if it gets a bit hotter during the day as long as the plant doesn’t get scorched by strong sun.
Did you know? Although the stripey variegation in Philodendron ‘Birkin’ is relatively stable, you might still find yours producing some unexpected colors or patterns. It can go back to looking like a normal ‘Rojo Congo’, produce partly green and partly variegated leaves (referred to as Philodendron ‘Birkin’ Black Cherry), fully cream leaves or even show some pink. You never know for sure what you’re going to get, but that’s what makes it fun!
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care: Soil & planting
Philodendrons like ‘Birkin’ are aroids. Like most members of this family that are kept as houseplants, they appreciate an airy soil type that retains some water but lets the excess drain easily to prevent root rot.
To (re)plant a Philodendron ‘Birkin’, you can look for a pre-made aroid mixture or make one yourself. There are many different recipes, but a great basic one could consist of 50% potting soil and a mix of sphagnum moss (for water retention) and orchid bark (for drainage). Other great components to throw in are perlite, charcoal, some coco fiber, vermiculite or even some worm castings for fertilization.
As for which planter to use, this Philodendron isn’t too picky. Terracotta might dry a bit too quickly, but anything else that has a drainage hole is perfect. You could go for a plastic nursery pot and place it in a decorative overpot, simply taking the plant out for watering and placing it back after the excess moisture has drained.
Did you know? You probably won’t have to repot this species very often: Philodendron ‘Birkin’ seems to grow quite a bit slower than its parent, ‘Rojo Congo’. In fact, it’s not really known how tall it can become, simply because it’s a relatively new cultivar. That being said, it’s not out of the question that your ‘Birkin’ may end up pretty big over the years.
Watering Philodendron ‘Birkin’
Being the tropical plants that they are, Philodendrons like ‘Birkin’ love humidity, both in the air and in their soil. To keep yours happy, be mindful of the following:
- During the summer months when it’s actively growing, your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ will appreciate its soil being kept at least lightly moist. This means you might end up watering it more than once a week if it’s warm.
- When there is less light and your plant has slowed down during winter, you can let the soil dry out a bit more. You’ll likely be watering about once a week or even a little less.
- Don’t just water on a schedule. Poke your finger into the soil or feel the weight of the planter to make sure your plant actually needs moisture. If the top of the soil is still wet, wait a few more days.
- Don’t forget that these guys like good air humidity as well, although they’re not overly sensitive. If your house is on the dry side, you could try running a humidifier, grouping plants together or using a pebble tray with a layer of water under the planter.
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care: fertilizer
Because this is a slow-growing species, your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ probably won’t need to be fertilized too often. That being said, if it’s growing well and regularly putting out new leaves, it can certainly benefit from a little boost here and there!
I apply a diluted liquid fertilizer for houseplants every month or so during the growing season, but you could certainly go for every other week. Stop fertilizing during winter, as your plant likely won’t be growing and has no use for plant food.
Did you know? Philodendron ‘Birkin’ doesn’t appear to be as much of a climber as some other Philodendrons. That being said, a moss pole or sticks for support can prove helpful once your plant starts growing larger. The species does grow aerial roots and will cling onto textured surfaces!
Philodendron ‘Birkin’ propagation
Is Philodendron ‘Birkin’ easy to propagate? You betcha! Even if you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t have a problem multiplying this plant.
The best time to propagate your ‘Birkin’ is during the growing season, especially summer. A simple stem cutting works perfectly! Do wait until the plant is large enough to have a good stem, because you’ll want to remove a piece with some foliage. Here’s how you do it:
- Cut the stem in such a way that both the cutting and the mother plant have at least a few leaves.
- Remove the bottom leaves from your cutting to prevent them from getting in the way later. Some stem should be exposed.
- Place the cutting in water or directly into a lightly moist aroid soil mixture.
- Put the glass or planter in a humid and light location. When growing in soil, keep it lightly moist but never wet.
- If the plant is in water, you can plant it in soil once it has grown an inch or so of roots. If it’s in soil, you’ll know your propagation attempt has been successful once you see new leaves appearing!
In warm and light conditions, you’ll likely start seeing the first sign of roots within a week or two. It can take longer, though, especially during the cooler winter months. Houseplant propagation is a project for the patient!
Did you know? Because it’s the result of a mutation, you can’t really grow Philodendron ‘Birkin’ from seed. You’d just get something resembling its (grand)parent plant(s). It’s commercially grown through propagation only, specifically tissue culture, which allows for producing lab-grown plants from just a few cells on a huge scale.
Buying Philodendron ‘Birkin’
As with many newer ‘designer’ houseplants, Philodendron ‘Birkin’ used to be pretty hard to find and fetch high prices. Luckily, as nurseries continue to pump out more specimens, the price tends to drop. You should now be able to find a Philodendron ‘Birkin’ in many plant stores and garden centers.
You can also buy Philodendron ‘Birkin’ online!
Is Philodendron ‘Birkin’ toxic to cats and dogs?
When it comes to toxicity, don’t worry too much. Although Philodendrons like ‘Birkin’ are considered mildly toxic, the risk of problems is limited. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which cause a burning sensation. The crystals can also upset the stomach, but since they’re so unpleasant to chew on, it’s unlikely your pet will ingest more than a tentative bite before realizing there are probably better items to chew on.
If you’re worried or unsure, try putting your Philodendron ‘Birkin’ in a harder-to-reach spot. This also prevents damage to the plant itself!
If you have any more questions about Philodendron ‘Birkin’ care or if you’d like to share your own experiences with this delightful striped Philodendron cultivar, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
PS: If you love the stripey variegation on a Philodendron ‘Birkin’, check out the pinstripe Calathea. A totally different species, but the green and white version sports a very similar pattern!