The Philodendron Birkin is a very popular houseplant in the United States because of its beautiful foliage. It was once difficult to get hold of and thus quite expensive, but now that it is not quite as rare as it used to be, it has become more affordable.
The plant’s leaves are dark green in color, but what really sets it apart from other houseplants is its cream or yellow variegation that looks as if it was painted delicately onto the leaves with a paintbrush.
The Birkin is actually a mutation of the Philodendron Rojo Congo variety. But, even if the plant is not native to any part of the world, it still has the same preferences as other philodendrons when it comes to its living conditions.
The main reason this plant has become more widespread among avid collectors is that people have simply propagated the plant. Propagation is a way of multiplying the plant by using portions from a parent plant to grow new plants.
In this article, we will discuss more about Philodendron Birkin propagation, why propagation is important, and how to do this properly. So, if you are curious about how this process is performed and you want to learn more, just keep on reading.
Why should I propagate my Philodendron Birkin?
The main reason why you might want to propagate your philodendron is to have more of the same plant without having to pay for another one. You are basically getting more plants at no expense and you can even give the new plants away as gifts to friends and family.
If your Philodendron Birkin is getting too big and you are planning to prune it, do not waste the prunings – rather use them to grow new plants.
Pruning the plant actually helps to encourage thicker growth. During the winter, your Philodendron Birkin can sometimes grow stems that are leggy or scraggly because of the lack of natural light during that season. These longer stems do not hurt the plant, but they can make it look asymmetrical or lopsided, so you might want to remove them. If so, you can use these prunings to propagate your plant.
What do I need to prepare before I start the propagation process?
Before you start propagating your philodendron, you should prepare the following:
- Philodendron parent plant
- Pruning shears or scissors, sterilized with rubbing alcohol
- Fresh, well-draining potting medium
- Plastic wrap
Philodendron Birkin propagation methods
Propagation using stem cuttings
Propagation using the plant’s stem cuttings is the easiest and most commonly used method for philodendrons.
Take the parent plant and choose a stem that looks healthy. This is important because you want to have the highest chance of successful propagation, and using an unhealthy stem is not a great start to the process.
Make sure that the stem you choose has at least one node on it, and make sure to cut the stem below the node so that it is included in the section you are removing. The node is the joint of the stem, which is where the roots of the cutting will grow from.
If your plant has grown so much that the stems also have air roots growing from them, this is even better. The cutting will be more mature and will grow much more easily because it literally already has roots present.
Using your sterile scissors or shears, cut the stem below the node, at a diagonal angle. It is important that your tools are sterile because you do not want any pathogens to make their way onto the open wound on the stem.
Before placing the cutting in water, remove the leaves from the lower half of it. There should be no leaves submerged in the water or even touching the water. If any leaves touch the water they will rot, which can impair the development of the cutting.
Fill a glass container with lukewarm water and place the cutting in the water. It is best to use filtered water or rainwater for this, as these water sources have little to no fluoride and chlorine content, which can harm the cutting. If you do not have access to rainwater or filtered water, you can leave tap water out on a counter for a day so that the minerals can dissipate.
The nodes on the cutting should be submerged in the water because this is where the roots are going to sprout from.
Place the glass container in a spot where the cutting can get lots of bright, indirect light. The light should not be direct because such intensity can cause the cutting to dry out and burn.
If natural light is scarce, you can use a grow light on the cuttings to encourage growth.
Make sure that you change the water in the container every couple of days, or as soon as it starts to get murky or smelly. The murkiness and the smell are an indication that there may be bacterial growth in the water, so you should change it as soon as possible to keep the cutting healthy.
Keep up this routine for several weeks as you let the roots sprout from the cutting. After several weeks, the roots should be a few inches long and you can then plant it in a regular pot.
Fill a pot with a well-draining potting medium and carefully place the cutting in the soil. Make sure that the new roots do not break or get damaged as you are planting it.
Going forward, you can care for your new Philodendron Birkin as you would a regular mature philodendron.
Propagation by division
Another method you can use to propagate your Philodendron Birkin is by division. This can be done if you see offsets, or pups, already growing from the sides of the parent plant.
This method is preferable if there are multiple offsets on the parent plant. If there are only one or two offsets, it might be better just to use stem cuttings while you wait for more offsets to grow.
Before starting the process, locate and identify the offsets on the parent plant. If you are sure that there are multiple offshoots, you need to remove the entire parent plant from its pot so that you can safely separate the offshoots and their roots from the main plant.
Be careful when removing it, and then gently remove as much soil from the roots as you can.
You can use your fingers to comb gently through the roots to dislodge any soil from the root ball. If there are root sections that are too tangled, you might need to cut them off rather than trying to separate them. Just make sure that, even if you remove the tangled roots, the different sections of the plant will still have their own roots once they have been divided.
Once you have established how you are going to section the plant, use shears to separate the sections. Do not just pull them apart, because you might end up causing more damage this way. Be patient and mindful of the plant as you carefully separate it into sections.
After you have separated the offshoots from the parent plant, you can replant the parent plant in its original pot.
If the offshoots that you have separated are a bit small, you might have to place them in a container of water first, as you would with stem cuttings. This way, the offshoots will have time to strengthen their roots before you plant them in the soil.
If the offshoots are big enough, you can plant them directly into a pot with fresh potting soil.
Once potted, you can continue caring for them as you would a mature plant.
Philodendron Birkin care
Philodendron Birkin thrives in bright, indirect light. Place your plant near a window to ensure it receives enough light to grow, but keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid scorched leaves.
The amount of variegation on the leaves of a Philodendron Birkin varies considerably, and those with more white leaves will require more light to thrive than those with predominantly green leaves.
Bear in mind that the light in your home changes throughout the year, and you may need to adjust the position of your plant to keep it out of direct sunlight in the summer and closer to a window in the winter.
Philodendron Birkin prefers a somewhat moist soil that dries out slightly between waterings. It can usually tolerate drought better than overwatering, so check to see if your plant is truly thirsty before reaching for the watering can.
Allow the top two inches of soil to dry out completely before watering your Philodendron Birkin. Poke your finger into the soil to determine its dryness, and you can also lift the pot to get an idea of how wet the soil is based on the weight of the container.
When it is time to water your plant, thoroughly soak the soil to ensure that the entire root ball receives adequate water. Sometimes dry soil will repel water at first, so take your time and gradually add water until the soil is saturated.
Bottom watering is also an effective way to ensure that the soil is evenly watered, but it takes a little longer than top watering.
After watering, allow all excess water to drain through the drainage holes. I usually allow my plants to drain by the sink before relocating them to their normal location. Alternatively, remember to empty the drip tray or outer pot after a few minutes to prevent the roots from remaining submerged in water.
The Birkin thrives in a well-draining, airy potting mix that retains sufficient moisture while allowing the majority of water to drain out of the bottom of the pot to avoid overwatering.
The potting mix should also be airy enough to prevent the soil from becoming compacted.
Because its leaves are waxy and thick, Philodendron Birkin is less fussy about humidity than other houseplants. However, if your home is particularly dry, you may notice brown tips and edges on the leaves.
Humidity levels above 40 percent are fine for your Philodendron Birkin, but 50 to 70 percent will make it more comfortable and may help it thrive.
Try one of these methods to keep your Philodendron’s humidity levels high:
- Group your plants together to increase transpiration and evaporation.
- Use a humidifier tray around your plants.
- Move your plant to a bathroom where the bath, shower, and taps will increase humidity.
- Use a humidifier to easily increase humidity.
As long as temperatures remain between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, your Philodendron Birkin will thrive. It typically ceases to grow at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and is susceptible to cold damage at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The primary source of temperature problems indoors is drafts. Drafts, both hot and cold, can be problematic. Browning of the leaves, particularly at the edges and tips, can be caused by hot drafts from radiators, heating vents, or fires.
Cold, drafty windows or cooling vents can result in significant cold stress, causing a plant to wither or die.
Philodendron Birkin is a beautiful houseplant with dark green leaves and cream or yellow-colored variegation.
This plant is a mutation of the Philodendron Rojo Congo, which means that the Birkin cannot be found in the wild. Despite this, it shares most of the same preferences as other philodendrons when it comes to its growing conditions.
This plant used to be quite rare and expensive to procure, but over the years it has been propagated frequently enough that it has become fairly easy to get hold of one now.
If you want to propagate your own Philodendron Birkin so that you can give away the new plants to friends and family, or even sell them to other people, the good news is that it is not that complicated to do.
There are two ways you can propagate a Philodendron Birkin: by stem cutting or by division.
When using a stem cutting, choose a healthy stem that has at least one node or even some air roots, and be sure you are using sterile tools when taking the cutting. You will have to let the cuttings root in a glass of water for a few weeks before you can finally plant it in the soil.
As for the division method, this is only applicable when the parent plant has grown offshoots that have their own roots that you can easily separate from the parent plant.
You can plant the offshoots directly in a new pot with fresh soil and care for them as you would a mature plant.
Image: istockphoto.com / Jobrestful