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Philodendron Birkin (White Wave) Plant Care Guide

Philodendron Birkin has quite the interesting story, as it spontaneously popped up in the gardening world not so long ago thanks to a Philodendron ‘Rojo Congo’ mutation. Due to the rare and unstable nature of the mutation (chimeric variegation), Philodendron Birkin can’t be found in the wild, but it’s cultivated for its beautifully variegated leaves. 

When it comes to appearances, Philodendron Birkin comes with dark-green leaves that feature creamish, white pinstripes. And since its variegation is unpredictable, each plant is unique. However, unstable genetics also mean that the plant can change colour and appearances if proper growing requirements are not met. 

And that’s exactly why we wrote this article, to help you provide for your Philodendron Birkin so it can mature into the remarkable plant it is. Alongside these lines you’ll find information on its care requirements, common issues, pests, and also tips on what to do if you notice signs of reverse variegation. 

1. General information

Scientific name:Philodendron “Birkin”
Common names:Philodendron ‘White Wave’, Philodendron ‘White measure’
Native to:Tropical rainforests of Central and South America
Toxicity:Toxic to both pets and humans
Mature size:3 feet (91 cm) tall
Hardiness:Not a cold tolerant plant, hardy outdoors in zones 10+

2. Philodendron Birkin Care & Growing Requirements

Technically, Philodendron Birkin is an easy to care for houseplant. After all, it’s a Philodendron and you won’t have to worry about it dying on you. What you’ll actually want to pay attention to is how its variegation develops, so you can correct any environmental mismanagement in case signs of reverting back to green appear. 

» Watering

Philodendron Birkin is a tropical plant, which means it enjoys moist soil at all times. Watering it once per week should be enough, but you’ll have to take into account other factors like average household temperature and type of soil used. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to water your Birkin when the top of the soil has dried out, since the factors mentioned above can increase or decrease the required watering frequency.

It’s also important to make sure your philodendron isn’t sitting in wet soil for prolonged periods, as this can cause root rot. This can be avoided by using a pot that comes with drainage holes or by removing the excess water from the trail after watering.  

» Light 

Like most philodendrons out there, Birkin also thrives in bright, indirect light. Low light conditions will negatively impact its variegation, while direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and dry out the plant. 

Low levels of sunlight or even shaded sunlight is also going to make your Philodendron Birkin happy and improve its variegation, as long as it doesn’t get too hot during the day. And since it needs a lot of light to maintain its white stripes (around 12 hours per day), you might have to use a grow light during the cold season. 

» Soil 

The potting medium used can also impact the watering frequency, because you don’t want your Birkin to sit in wet soil, as this can cause root rot. Well-draining soil that also keeps moisture in and offers proper air circulation to the plant’s roots is ideal for your philodendron. 

You can either purchase a mix specifically created for Aroids or create your own by combining regular potting soil with perlite (helps the soil dry out between waterings) and orchid bark / sphagnum moss (retains moisture). 

If you don’t want to worry about monthly feeding your Birkin, you can also add high quality worm castings (organic fertilizer) to the soil mix. 

» Temperature 

Philodendron Birkin thrives in warm environments, the ideal temperature for proper growth ranging between 65°F to 85°F (18°C – 29°C).

Since the average household temperature is between the limits mentioned above, your Birkin should feel like home in no time. 

» Humidity 

As a tropical plant, Philodendron Birkin loves high levels of humidity (50 – 60%), which makes it a perfect pick for your bathroom. There are multiple ways to increase the humidity levels around your plant. From frequent misting, to using a humidifier or a pebble try, you just have to pick the one that’s comfortable for you. 

You can also use a plant hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels, especially during winter, since heaters dry out the air. 

» Fertilizer 

Occasional fertilizer is beneficial for your Philodendron Birkin development, especially if it seems like it’s struggling to grow. While this plant likes a soil that’s rich in nutrients, too much fertilizer can cause root burn or yellowing leaves. 

The best option would be a fertilizer with a balanced ratio (10-10-10), but common liquid fertilizer diluted in half and applied once a month in spring and summer is also a good choice. 

Another option would be to add one part of Worm Castings to the soil mix when you repot your plant. This way you won’t have to worry about monthly feeding. 

3. Philodendron Birkin Maintenance

Now that the care requirements for this philodendron variety are out of the way, it’s time to discuss what to do when your Philodendron Birkin is getting too big for its current pot. 

» Repotting

So how often do you have to repot your Philodendron Birkin? Well, the answer depends on how fast it grows. Usually, this plant needs to be repotted every couple of years. However, if it tends to outgrow its pot each season, you’ll have to do it yearly. 

When repotting your Birkin, you’ll want to pick a pot that’s 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) bigger than the current one. This way, your plant will have just enough space to grow and you won’t have to worry if the pot is too big. Drainage holes are a must in this case. To improve drainage, you can also opt for a porous pot (e.g Terra Cota), as this will allow excess moisture to evaporate through the sides. 

Keep in mind that you should always use fresh soil for your Philodendron Birkin.  

» Pruning

Philodendron Birkin doesn’t usually require pruning, but you’ll still have to remove dead or damaged leaves, as they are not really aesthetically pleasing. 

The main reasons you’ll have to cut back your philodendron are: 

  • New growth reverting back to green → to promote new variegated leaves to grow;
  • Philodendron getting leggy → to maintain its bushy shape and encourage new growth.

In these cases, you’ll have to use sharp and sterilized pruning shears to cut back the leaf stem, while making sure not to hurt the main stem. 

» Propagation

The easiest way to propagate your Philodendron Birkin is by dividing new offsets from the main plant during the repotting phase. All you have to do is gently detach them from the mother plant and pot them separately. 

You can also propagate your plant by taking stem cuttings from mature plants. Once collected, you can dip the cut ends in rooting hormone and place them in water or directly in soil. Place them in a warm spot, with bright, indirect light, and you should have healthy, new Birkin plants in no time. 

Use sharp and sterilized pruning shears to cut the stems! Also, don’t forget to check out our article on how to propagate a philodendron for more information on this subject.

4. Common issues 

In this case, most issues appear due to environmental mismanagement. However, the most dangerous one is, as in most cases, overwatering. Let’s take a look at the issues frequently encountered when growing a Philodendron Birkin. 

» Reverse Variegation

If your Philodendron Birkin is starting to pop up plain green leaves it means you’re dealing with a case of reverse variegation, which is characteristic to spontaneous chimeric mutations. In this case, you’ll have to cut back the non variegated leaves back to the stem, leaving only the ones with stripe. 

Once you do that, the next step would be to check if proper growing conditions are met. And if you’d like to learn more about this process, make sure to check our article on what causes variegation and reverse variegation in plants

» Leaves Turning White

One of the main causes that lead to Birkin leaves turning white is not meeting its light requirements. While insufficient light will decrease the amount of chlorophyll your plant produces, too much, on the other hand, will scorch its leaves, both resulting in whiter, weaker leaves. 

Other causes are overwatering, fungal diseases (which usually appear as white spots or patches on the leaves), and pest infestations. 

» Yellow Leaves

Philodendron Birkin leaves turning yellow is usually a sign of overwatering or your plant sitting in heavy soil. The options here are changing the potting medium with one that meets Birkin’s requirements and optimising the watering frequency. If the stems are mushy, you might also deal with a case of root rot. 

However, if the leaf that just turned yellow is one of the oldest ones then you have nothing to worry about, as it’s just a case of old-age. 

» Brown Leaves

If the leaves are becoming both crispy and brown, then it’s a sign of too much exposure to direct sunlight. As mentioned above, direct sunlight can scorch this plant’s leaves. 

However, if that’s not the case, you might want to check and increase the humidity levels around your plant. 

» Root rot

Mushy stems, and wilting, yellow, distorted leaves are usually signs of root rot. To save your Birkin, you’ll have to remove it from its current pot, wash the roots, trim away all the affected parts and then plant it in fresh soil. 

5. Philodendron Birkin Diseases & Pests

» Spider mites

Spider Mites are one of the most common pests that can infect your houseplants and, honestly speaking, most annoying to get rid of. The signs of a spider mites infection are usually visible after the damage has been done. If you see discoloured markings on your leaves or signs of webbing, treat your plant leaves with neem oil or an insecticidal spray. You can also check out our article on how to get rid of spider mites

» Bacterial or fungal leaf spots

Overwatering is the most common cause that leads to fungal or bacterial infections in Philodendron Birkin. The main signs of bacterial leaf spot  are black-edged or brown spots with yellow halos, or just light and dark areas on the leaves. Unfortunately, contaminated tissue can not be treated, so it’s best to remove the affected leaves and prevent it from spreading by using a fungicide or bactericide. 

Conclusion 

As you’ve probably noticed, Philodendron Birkin comes with the element of surprise due to its unstable variegation. Even so, if proper growing requirements are met, you shouldn’t have difficulties growing this unique houseplant. 
However, if you’re not feeling ready to care for it, we’ll like to present to you our list of philodendron varieties that are also unique in their own way. They are also extremely easy to care for!

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