How to Grow and Care for Philodendron Birkin

Front profile of a philodendron birkin plant

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

There are hundreds of philodendron species, and these popular houseplants are beloved for their easygoing nature and large, glossy-green foliage. If you want to stay up to date with trends, look for the Philodendron 'Birkin' (also commonly known as philodendron Birkin). This rare mutation of the hybrid Philodendron 'Rojo Congo' stands out because of the unique creamy white or yellow streaks on the green leaves. Be patient, though. The variegation only appears on mature plants, and sometimes it might produce leaves with a reddish tone or part red, part creamy white stripes.

Slow-growing and compact, it's a great plant for small spaces, providing it gets enough bright, indirect light to promote eye-catching variegation.

Philodendrons have a variety of growth habits, including trailing and climbing, but philodendron Birkin is self-heading with a thick, upright, self-supporting stem, promoting a more tree-like appearance.

As with other philodendrons, philodendron Birkin is a plant you'll want to keep out of reach if you have children or pets in the house. It is toxic to people and pets.

Common Name White wave, Birkin white wave, philodendron Birkin
Botanical Name Philodendron 'Birkin'
Family Araceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 3 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, Neutral
Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
Native Area Central America
Toxicity Toxic to people and pets

Philodendron Birkin Care

A big selling point of philodendron Birkin, like all philodendrons, is that it's low-maintenance—they're popular beginner houseplants. But that doesn't mean you can neglect them. The philodendron Birkin still needs the right levels of warmth, moisture, and bright, indirect light to thrive and show off its impressive variegation. Just avoid being too attentive⁠—overfertilization and overwatering aren't this plant's friends.

While they don't have a climbing habit, a support pole might be helpful for top-heavy plants, and you'll want to wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth every few weeks to promote variegation and keep them glossy and healthy.

Philodendron birkin from above

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

Closeup of philodendron birkin leaf detail

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong


Most philodendron species appreciate filtered light, and the Birkin is no exception. A west- or east-facing window with medium bright, indirect light usually works well. To maximize the variegation, you don't want a corner that is too shady, but too much direct sun can scorch the leaves and result in limp, leggy growth. This plant usually appreciates a few hours of light morning sun.

Because philodendron Birkin likes to grow toward sunlight, rotating the plant periodically helps promote even growth.


Philodendrons thrive in potting mixes specially designed for aroid species, or you can try making your own. Blending one part potting soil, one part orchid bark, and one part perlite provides the right amount of acidity, moisture retention, drainage, and aeration⁠—they require good air circulation but don't tolerate soggy roots.


They might be hard-to-kill plants, but philodendron Birkin isn't impervious to overwatering. One of the biggest problems is overwatering⁠ this plant—soggy soil can lead to mushy stems and root rot. Watering thoroughly and allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out before topping up the moisture level works best.

While you don't want the plant to completely dry out, don't panic if you forget to water it occasionally. They're pretty forgiving and usually perk up after a thorough watering. Be sure to drain away any excess water.

Temperature and Humidity

These tropical beauties thrive in warmth and humidity⁠—they're great houseplants for bathrooms. Temperatures need to stay consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the home environment is particularly dry, the philodendron Birkin won't be a good choice.

They'll grow in most homes, though, with ideal temperatures ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can't provide preferred humidity levels of between 50 and 60 percent, try introducing a humidifier or adding a pebble tray filled with water underneath your plant.


Regular fertilization isn't always essential for philodendron Birkin, and too much feeding can cause root burn and yellowing leaves. However, feeding with a balanced, weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every couple of months during the growing season promotes faster growth, improved variegation, and glossy foliage, especially in brighter conditions.


This slow-growing plant doesn't have any demanding pruning requirements. Just remove any leaves that are damaged or past their best, so all the energy is directed to the healthy foliage.

Propagating Philodendron Birkin

Like most philodendrons, the Birkin can be propagated by stem cuttings. Follow the steps below for a chance of success:

  1. Use sharp, sterile scissors or pruning shears to take a 4- to 5-inch stem cutting with four to six leaves.
  2. Remove the bottom leaves to expose the nodes and leave two or three leaves at the top of the cutting.
  3. Submerge the nodes in water and position your cutting in a spot with bright, indirect light.
  4. Change the water every few days.
  5. Once you see small white roots sprouting that are around 1 inch in length, you can move the cutting to soil. Usually, this takes around two to four weeks.
  6. When planting in soil, select a moist, well-draining mix and continue to position the cutting in the same spot where it receives bright, indirect light.
  7. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged for the first few weeks.

Potting and Repotting Philodendron Birkin

The Birkin is a slow-growing philodendron and won't need repotting regularly. However, repotting to a planter one or two sizes up every few years offers an opportunity to refresh the potting mix. If you notice roots growing out of the pot drainage holes, this is a sign that it needs a change.

Don't be tempted to go too large with the new pot—it's more likely that excess moisture will gather, often leading to root rot. A couple of inches larger in pot diameter is usually plenty.

Add a fresh batch of aroid potting mix (aroid is the common name for plants in the Aracaea family, which includes many houseplants) until the pot is around a third full. Once the plant is in, fill in any gaps around it until the mix reaches just below the pot's rim, after gently patting the soil down. After watering, return the plant to its original spot.

Common Problems With Philodendron Birkin

Just because philodendron Birkin has a reputation for being pretty easy-going, it doesn't mean it's immune to problems. To keep the foliage looking its best, it still needs the right light, water, and humidity levels. Look out for the following issues, which are often signs that you need to change something.

Leaves Turning Yellow

It's not unusual to see older leaves at the base of the plant yellow and drop, making way for newer, healthier growth above it. However, if you're seeing unattractive yellowing leaves on new growth or in large quantities, it's most likely a sign of overwatering or overfertilization.

Brown Tips

When the edges or tips of your plant's foliage start to turn brown, it's likely because you need to up your watering schedule or provide higher humidity levels. If you have a lot of tropical plants, consider investing in a humidity meter. If levels are below 50 percent, you can use a humidifier, mist your plant, and set it on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Keep it away from heating vents and consider a spot like a bathroom with higher humidity levels.

Browning leaves can also signify that your plant is in a spot where it's receiving too much direct intense sunlight.

Curling Leaves

If the leaves are beginning to curl, it might be an early sign that it isn't getting enough moisture. If the top few inches of soil are dry, it's time to water.

Also, avoid overfeeding your plant. Too much fertilizer can result in curling and browning leaves.

Dropping Leaves

These tropical plants like to be kept consistently warm and away from draughts. A sign that your Birkin needs a warmer spot is regularly dropping leaves.

  • What's the difference between Philodendron 'Birkin' and Philodendron 'Rojo Congo'?

    Philodendron 'Birkin 'is a rare, unstable mutation of the hybrid Philodendron 'Rojo Congo'. It sports unusual creamy white pinstripe variegation on the foliage. The Rojo Congo philodendron has large, solid-colored leaves that mature to be a burgundy-green shade.

  • Is philodendron Birkin rare?

    The growing demand for these beautiful plants, their unstable nature, and the limited available supply means it's not easy to source them.

  • Why is the variegation fading on my philodendron Birkin?

    A bit of seasonal fading of variegation is natural, but if it doesn't get enough light, it can result in your plant unnecessarily losing those striking creamy white pinstripes. Although exposure to prolonged, intense direct sunlight can scorch the foliage, bright but indirect light is needed to promote good patternization.

    It's also worth noting that the unstable nature of this mutation means there is a possibility that it could revert back to a Rojo Congo, and the variegation can disappear permanently.

Article Sources
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  2. Heartleaf Philodendron. ASPCA.

  3. Dieffenbachia and Philodendron. Poison Control.

  4. Heartleaf Philodendron. ASPCA.