Originating in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Philippines, the medinilla is an epiphytic plant that develops in the cavities of tree trunks. In the original places, the medinilla is characterized by rapid growth and erect posture. Despite its tropical origin, it can withstand low temperatures for short periods.
The magnificent medinilla belongs to the Melastomataceae family, which has more than 180 species of shrubs and creepers. It is equipped with thick stems with a quadrangular section, which lignify with the passage of time.
The foliage is persistent and the leaves are ample (they reach even more than 20 cm of length), elliptic, opposite, coriaceous, rough to the touch, of dark green colour, with more or less wavy margins and with evident veins departing from the central nervation. The floral stems (about 45 cm long) have a fleshy hanging flower with five petals and a raceme, which is very reminiscent of a bunch of grapes.
The different parts of the inflorescence are all characterized by a color ranging from pale pink to coral red.
Flowering usually takes place in early spring and can last even the entire summer. Each inflorescence has a duration of at least two weeks.
The magnificent medinilla can reach 2 m in height in the places of origin, while in apartment, if placed in a sufficiently large pot, has an average height of about 120 cm.
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Being a tropical plant it needs many hours of light and mild temperatures, which are not subject to temperature changes. The ideal temperature is around 25 °C and should never fall below 15 °C in winter.
The magnificent medinilla loves a bright position, but not direct exposure to the sun’s rays. Do not place it in places with air currents, such as near a door or window, and move it away from the radiators.
It does not require large quantities of water, for a better monitoring of the plant it is advisable to check the state of humidity of the earth, water as soon as it begins to dry, with water without limescale at room temperature. The soil should always be kept moist during the hottest season, but without causing water stagnation.
Also in winter it is good to check that the plant has a slightly moist soil.
In the hot season it is also a good thing to proceed with the nebulisations of water on the leaves, without wetting, however, the flowers, which would be ruined.
The plant should be watered with rainwater or with a non-calcareous water at room temperature. Medinilla does not like limestone, which causes the leaves to turn yellow and fall. Let the soil dry at the surface level between one watering and the next, but never let all the soil dry out completely. During the period of vegetative recovery, keep the soil moist by watering it with water at room temperature.
The magnificent medinilla needs a high ambient humidity, but does not tolerate a soil soaked in water, so always empty the saucer to avoid root rot. Place the pot in a rather large saucer with clay and water balls so that the evaporation of the water ensures that the leaves have the necessary atmospheric humidity. With the clay balls, the plant will not risk radical rot. Periodically spray rainwater on the leaves, but not on the flowers.
Nebulization will prevent the plant from being attacked by mites. Equally useful is the immersion of the pot in a container full of water for a few minutes. In winter, water very little, especially if the plant is placed in a fairly cool environment. Resume watering regularly when the first buds appear. At the end of flowering, decrease the water supply as the plant enters the phase of vegetative rest.
Medinilla in brief
Type of plant
In apartment, greenhouse or veranda
Height at maturity
200 cm in the places of origin, up to 120 cm if cultivated in pot
Speed of growth
Fast, if cultivation conditions are appropriate
Diseases and pests
Ideal: between 200-250 C, and not less than 160 C
It is a good idea to fertilize the plant every week with a flowering plant fertilizer, at half the recommended dose on the label. In winter it is recommended to reduce the frequency of fertilization once every 15 days.
In the period of development, the plant needs fertilizer. Every 2 weeks, use a phosphorous-rich tropical plant fertiliser or an orchid fertiliser. In the winter period (two to three months) do not provide fertilizer and reduce the water supply.
Being a plant of tropical origin, in the original countries it grows in the forests, in a humid environment, on acidic and extremely draining soils, therefore it requires a soil rich of humus and peat. Add perlite to increase the draining capacity.
The magnificent medinilla must be repotted annually in its first years of life, then less and less as the years go by. When the plant is ripe, it should be repotted once every 3/4 years. The compound to be used must be rich in organic matter, with the addition of beech or oak leaves finely ground.
In light or half shade
Fresh, draining, rich in humus
Elimination of wilted flowers and stems that are too thin and weak
In the period of the vegetative recovery
The plant needs a temperate climate throughout the year, should never fall below 16 °, the optimum temperature ranges from 18 to 22 ° C. It is advisable to find a fairly ventilated location, to ensure good growth of the magnificent Medinilla. During the winter months it is advisable to leave the plant at a temperature not exceeding 18°C.
Medinilla is an extremely demanding plant in terms of temperature and humidity. The temperatures suitable for the magnificent medinilla are between 18° and 27° C in the spring-summer period, while during the winter rest, the temperatures must fluctuate between 14° and 18° C. However, the plant can withstand even lower temperatures for very short periods.
The reproduction of the magnificent Medinilla is done by cutting in spring, to increase the chances of success is appropriate to the warm bed (basal heating system).
The propagation of the magnificent medinilla is carried out by cutting.
The playback operation is problematic and success is not always guaranteed. The cuttings are carried out in the spring-summer period on stems not too old (2-3 years), of about 15 cm of length. Cut under a knot and remove the leaves below the knot and the end to reduce water consumption. Introduce the end of the cuttings into the rooting hormone. If the leaves are too large, reduce them by half or roll them up to reduce evaporation.
The cuttings are placed in a cool soil with peat and a lot of sand, up to the leaves, covered with a cloth or placed in a small greenhouse to create a humid environment with a temperature as constant as possible (240-290 C) and placed in the shade or at a source of light shielded. As the new shoots appear, remove the plastic sheet. Roots should sprout in about 2-3 weeks.
The medinilla calendar
Beginning of spring-summer (if ideal conditions are met)
It is a plant that is rarely attacked by parasites, possibly by green aphids. To counteract them, it is possible to increase the nebulisations of water, as they do not like humid environments. They can also be removed directly from the leaves with a cotton and soap ball, to be rinsed carefully.
If the plant does not enjoy sufficient moisture, it may be subject to the attack of cochineals. Remedy this problem by using a specific insecticide or by spraying the leaves daily on the top and bottom pages. Another problem is root rot, caused by too much water.
The plant must be sprayed every 2 or 3 days with a fine sprayer, this to increase the atmospheric humidity. To increase the humidity we recommend the use of very large saucers filled with expanded clay, the plant should not be in contact with water.
If the plant increases in size can be cut, the cut must be made in the spring, after flowering. If the plant has at the end of the leaves of the dryness is due to a level of humidity lower than the needs of the plant itself.
When the plant does not produce flowers it is advisable to let the plant rest in cold periods, decreasing the temperatures to 16 °C.
Medinilla is a magnificent plant that everyone would like to cultivate because of its high ornamental value. But before you buy it, ask yourself if you can provide it with the necessary light and moisture, otherwise you risk buying a plant that will not bloom or die. Renounce if you do not have a bright enough place or a small greenhouse with a sufficient level of humidity. But if you can create the ideal environment, the magnificent medinilla will not disappoint you.
Following purchase, it is possible that the medinilla will progressively lose its leaves. The loss of the leaves can be due to the change in the cultivation conditions, that is to say the passage from the nursery, where the medinilla was kept in a greenhouse with a warm and humid environment, to the warm but dry climate of a normal apartment. Immediately ensure that the plant is in a condition similar to that of its place of origin and the greenhouse.
The plant could start to appear weak and the leaves to turn yellow. It is possible that the soil has become calcareous. Repot the plant using an acidic soil and do not water it with calcareous water.
How to cultivate Medinilla
The magnificent medinilla is an epiphytic plant of the tropical area, and therefore requires treatments similar to those of tropical orchids. It can last for years, if it is grown according to its needs, while you will not see it bloom or the leaves will turn yellow and then fall if the conditions are not ideal.
After purchasing the plant, choose a bright room with an adequate level of humidity and light. In summer, excessive light can be attenuated with curtains that prevent the sun’s rays from burning its leaves.
Every two or three years, repotted if you notice that the vase has become too small. The repotting operation must be performed after flowering. Use soil made up of equal parts of peat, leaves and coarse-grained sand for good drainage. During the repotting operation, be careful not to damage the roots, as they are very delicate and would risk compromising the health of the plant.
If the magnificent medinilla has been placed in a sufficiently large pot and does not need to be repotted, simply renew the surface soil by removing 3-4 cm of surface soil and adding new ones.
During the flowering period, if you notice that the flower stems are excessively curved and in danger of breaking, place the stems in the ground and anchor the stems to prevent them from breaking.
Medinilla in winter
In winter, the medinilla needs lower temperatures (140-180 C) and a reduction in water supply: wait until the surface is sufficiently dry before watering again. Decreased water and temperature will promote flowering. When the first buds appear, put the medinilla back in its usual place and start watering again.
Magnificent Medinilla: Pruning
Pruning should be carried out at the end of flowering, after summer, to eliminate withered or dried flower stems, or to reduce the size of the plant. Eliminate overgrown or thin stems. Tick the younger branches to increase branching. The magnificent medinilla can also withstand strong pruning, but potted specimens generally do not need it.