Although they are starting to become very popular in the houseplant world, Philodendron Birkins can be quite difficult to find in plant shops so propagation is the best way to multiply your Birkin! These incredible white striped plants are fairly easy to care for and bring that special something to your home.
Propagating your Philodendron Birkin doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you know exactly what to do. So we hope this post will guide you through the whole process, from tools needed to a step by step method as well as issues you might face and top tips for a successful Philodendron Birkin propagation.
Why propagate your Philodendron Birkin?
There are several reasons why you might choose to propagate your Philodendron Birkin. The main one is simply wanting to multiply the number of plants you have without actually having to buy any more. Who can say no to free plants?! Plant cuttings also make great gifts for friends, especially when it might be hard for them to get their hands on their own Philodendron Birkin.
The other main reason why many plant parents choose to propagate is because their plant is either becoming too big or very leggy. Cutting your plant back encourages bushier growth and is a great way to cut back that winter growth which may have become straggly or leggy. But instead of simply throwing away those cuttings, why not propagate them and start a whole new mother plant.
What tools will I need to propagate a Philodendron Birkin?
Let’s start off with the easy part. It’s important to make sure you have all the right things before taking the first cutting!
Healthy and mature Philodendron Birkin
Fresh soil and water
Newspaper or plastic sheet
Toothpick, plastic wrap and peat moss (if you are using the air layering method)
What methods can I use to propagate my Philodendron Birkin?
There are three main methods of propagation you can use for Philodendron Birkins; stem cuttings, division and layering. Stem cuttings and division are definitely the more common propagation methods used and the ones we would recommend if you are fairly new to propagating houseplants. Below you will find a step by step guide to each method.
Stem cutting method
Locate your stem cutting
When taking a stem cutting you want to make sure that the part of the plant you are cutting is healthy to give you any chance of success. You also need to make sure this section of your Philodendron Birkin has at least one node. This is a stem joint and where the roots would appear out of. If you can, try to choose a section of the plant that also has aerial roots as this means it will be a more mature plant and propagation will be quicker.
Make the cut
You want to use clean scissors/ shears or a knife to make the cut to avoid passing on dirt or any infection to the plant. Use your tools to make a clean cut across your plant in a diagonal way. This increase the surface area of the cutting.
Take off any lower leaves
As you will be placing your cutting in water for several weeks you want to carefully remove any leaves on the lower part of the cutting that may end up sitting in the water. They will rot if they are sat in water for a long period of time so best to cut them off now.
Fill up your container with water
Next, you want to fill up a glass with fresh temperate water to place your Philodendron Birkin cutting into. Make sure the water isn’t super cold or hot as this will shock or burn the cutting and cause it to die. It is best to use purified water so the levels of chlorine and fluoride aren’t as high as in the water straight out of the tap. A great way to do this naturally is to leave the water out for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate. You can also use filtered water or collected rainwater.
Place your cuttings in water
Make sure that the nodes on the stem cutting are sat in the water so that the roots will start to grow out from them. Place your glass in bright but indirect sunlight. Intense light will damage the cutting and prevent a successful propagation. You can use a light monitor to figure out if you’re Philodendron Birkin cuttings are getting the right amount of sunlight. You can also supplement sunlight levels by using an LED grow light which are great at encouraging growth in cuttings. We love this one which is available on Amazon here.
It’s at this stage that you might choose to use rooting hormone. This will help to speed up root growth on the new cuttings. We have always found this rooting gel to be successful – you can buy it on Amazon here.
Change the water regularly
It’s super important that you keep the water in your propagation station fresh so we recommend switching it out every couple of days. This keeps it free from bacteria and stops it from stagnating and smelling.
Plant your cuttings into potting mix
Once the roots on your Philodendron Birkin cutting are longer than a few centimetres you can pot it into soil. We recommend using a high-quality potting mix to aid with drainage and aeration. Our top choice for soil would be this potting mix from Miracle Gro. Carefully place your cutting into the mix making sure not to damage the delicate newly formed roots and continue regular Philodendron Birkin care.
Method 2: Division
You can only use this method if your Philodendron Birkin has several offshoots growing off the same mother plant. If your plant is only one offshoot then you must use the stem cutting or layering methods.
Locate the various offshoots
When looking for a part of the plant to divide it will become very obvious if there are various offshoots on your Philodendron Birkin. They will be completely separate and growth will stem from the middle of each section.
Take the plant out of the pot
Once you have located the various sections of the plant you will need to take your Philodendron Birkin out of the pot so you can divide the root system. Carefully lift the plant out and shake off the potting mix around the roots. A good way to loosen the soil is to run your fingers through the roots to start to separate them.
Separate the sections
You may have to trim off the odd root if they aren’t detangling easily but you should be able to carefully pull the sections apart from each other. It’s ok if you have to slice around the plant a little to separate them but just make sure that each part of the plant has a substantial amount of the root system to aid a successful propagation. When separating parts of the plant, make sure to always use shears rather than pulling the plant apart as this can damage it quite easily!
Place in water or fresh potting mix
Pot the main mother plant back into its original pot and decide whether you want to place the offshoot in water first or straight into potting mix. This depends on the size of the cutting and the maturity of the root system. If the offshoot has quite mature roots then it will be totally fine growing in potting mix already. However, if you feel the roots need to grow a little more then we recommend placing them into water as a middle step.
Continue normal care
If your cutting is now in fresh potting mix then you can care for it as you would your other Philodendron Birkin. If it is in water first you want to refresh that water every couple of days and repot into potting mix once the roots have matured a little.
Method 3: Air layering
This method can be a little trickier and fiddlier so we only recommend it if you are a slightly more experienced plant propagator!
Locate a healthy stem
When choosing the air layering method you want to make sure you are using a healthy and strong part of the stem.
Make a vertical incision into the stem
Using a clean knife make a vertical cut into the stem that is a couple of inches long. You want it to go about halfway through the stem.
Open up the incision
We recommend inserting a toothpick into the centre of the incision to hold it open.
Attach damp peat moss to the side of the incision
You want to tie the peat moss around the stem with the cutting in making sure it stays damp but not soggy at all times.
Wrap up the peat moss
Wrap a piece of plastic wrap around the peat moss and stem to keep it tight.
Once you see a new root you can cut off the stem
After several weeks you should start to see new roots growing out of the peat moss. Once you see this you can slice the cutting off the main plant, remove the film and pot the cutting into fresh potting mix. Handle the cutting with care as the fresh roots will be delicate and easily damaged.
Philodendron Birkin Propagation FAQs
Here’s a few of the most common questions we find people have when looking to propagate their Philodendron Birkin.
You want to propagate at the beginning of spring for the best chance at a successful propagation. Make sure that any wintery cold weather is behind you so that your cuttings are growing in warmer brighter months.
Propagating in autumn or winter will mean that your cuttings will be trying to grow in the dormant period and you won’t see much happening as growth rate will be very slow. This increases the risk of root or leaf rot which can kill your cutting. Spring gives quite a few months of sunshine and a warm environment which encourages new roots and leaves to grow. It will also allow the mother plant to recover quicker from the shock of propagation. If you do choose to propagate in cooler temperatures and darker months, using a heat pad and LED grow lights are a great way to help it still be a success.
Whilst it is not essential, you may wish to use rooting gels or powders to increase the success of propagation. Rooting hormone products stimulate root growth on new cuttings, not only speeding up the process but also producing stronger roots.
Rooting hormone comes in 3 types: powder, liquid or gel. When using a powder rooting hormone you dip the cutting into water and then into the powder before planting directly into fresh potting mix. The moisture helps the powder to stick to the cutting. You only want to cover the bottom section of the cutting. Gel and liquid forms work in a similar way but are great when propagating in water first. We recommend this rooting gel which is available from Amazon.
Using rooting hormones is definitely optional because they can sometimes stimulate too much growth which harms the plant and actually slows down the whole propagation process so use carefully and sparingly for the best results.
Grow lights are great to use when propagating houseplants as they provide ideal light conditions for young seeds and cuttings. They can avoid problems caused by a lack of sunlight and help to stimulate growth. Grow lights are also great to use more generally on your houseplants if they don’t get enough light in autumn and winter so are a great investment for any plant parent. This is a great one from Amazon which we have always found works really well on our Philodendron Birkin cuttings.
It’s important to clean your tools before and after contact with a plant to stop any cross-contamination between your plants. Scissors and shears can transfer pests and diseases across plants that you might not even realise are there.
Another crucial reason to clean your tools after touching the plant is that many houseplants are toxic, including the Philodendron Birkin. Therefore you want to make sure that there is no trace of the plant on your tools as this can be harmful to you and anyone who might come into contact with your tools.
It’s important that you are able to identify the different parts of the plant so you know where to make the cut. A node is where the stem and leaf joints meet. On Philodendron Birkin plants you will often see aerial roots grow from these nodes. If there isn’t a root there yet, you may feel a little bump in the stem which indicates a node.
Unfortunately, on Philodendron Birkin plants you aren’t able to propagate from a single leaf cutting. There needs to be at least one node so that roots can start to form.
We never recommend fertilising your cuttings until they are around 1 year old. It can actually slow down new root growth as you are providing nutrients straight to the plant. Fertilising such young plants can also shock them and cause various issues such as yellow leaves and small growth so hold off the feed for a while.
Common problems when propagating a Philodendron Birkin plant
Propagating plants doesn’t always have 100% success and you may encounter some problems along the way. But don’t worry, below you can figure out what is causing these problems to arise and hopefully solve them before it kills your plant cuttings.
Propagating Philodendron Birkin plants isn’t the quickest thing in the world and it can take several weeks or even months for there to be signs of new roots. As long as you are changing out the water regularly and keeping the plant in a nice warm environment you should start to see new roots eventually. If you want to try and speed up the process you can use rooting gel which encourages quicker growth but it’s not always going to give you the results you are after.
If you are trying to propagate when the temperatures aren’t super high in your home then this may be the cause of the lack of growth. You can help to speed up root growth by using a heat pad that you place underneath your cuttings. This warms up the area and provides an ideal environment for new growth.
If your cutting is turning brown and mushy then unfortunately this isn’t a good sign. This is usually due to the cutting rotting in stagnant water. You want to make sure you are regularly refreshing the water (every other day) so that it doesn’t encourage bacteria. We recommend trimming away the mushy parts of the cutting and hoping that it can still recover and grow roots.
If your cutting is starting to grow new leaves but they are much smaller than the leaves on the mother plant don’t worry at all. This is completely natural and simply due to the root system being less mature than that of the larger plant. Give it time and if your plant is getting enough light then slowly the new leaves will start to get bigger and you can trim away the smaller leaves to encourage new healthy growth.
You can help growth a long a little by using an LED grow light to make sure your new plant is in the ideal environment. We have found this one from Amazon to work really well on new cuttings and plants.
If the leaves on your cutting are turning yellow then it may be due to too much direct sunlight which has burnt or scorched the leaves. It may also be due to too little light so monitor the environment your plant is in. Using a light monitor can help you figure out how much light your plant is getting throughout the day.
Root rot could be another cause so inspect the roots closely. If you have recently moved your cutting from water to potting mix take it out of the pot and see if you can spot a problem with the roots. One way we make sure to water our cuttings the right amount is by using a moisture meter. You just pop them into the soil and it’ll do the work for you!
It’s totally normal for a weird layer to form around your cutting and its roots in water. This is totally normal and nothing to worry about. We recommend giving your cutting a quick rinse each time you change out the water to remove this layer.
We hope you have found this complete guide to Philodendron Birkin propagation useful. It’s never an exact science and some cuttings will take longer to root than others and sometimes it just won’t work for no real reason. But with the right methods, care and environment you should find success. We have had to wait several months before we saw roots on some of our plant cuttings so it really can just be a waiting game. But the end result is worth it so be patient!
Check out our full Philodendron Birkin care guide to find all the information on how to continue to care for your cuttings once they have matured.