medinilla magnifica

Growing and Caring for Medinilla (Medinilla magnifica)

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The showy medinilla (Medinilla magnifica) is easily one of the most impressive houseplants when seen in full bloom. In fact, this tropical evergreen is no slouch when it comes to attractive foliage either. It can be a little demanding in its environmental needs, but this plant is certainly worth the effort. 

Read to learn all you need to know about growing and caring for your very own medinilla houseplant.  

Showy medinilla is a tropical evergreen epiphyte from the Philippines in Southeast Asia. It just so happens that these amazing plants can be grown indoors, and that has made them popular across the globe. This is one plant that can really stand out in your home. 

These impressive houseplants have very large, oppositely arranged leaves that measure up to a foot (30cm) long. The foliage is dark glossy green above, slightly paler below, and grows on characteristic square stems. 

Showy medinilla is most famous for the large, amazing inflorescences that are produced in the spring and can last for up to 2 months. Each flower measures just an inch (2.5cm) across, but the panicles they grow on measure up to 20 inches (50cm) in length, creating a magnificent effect. To add to the splendor, each panicle is surrounded by showy pink bracts. 

Plant Facts

Scientific nameMedinilla magnifica
Common namesShowy medinilla, rose grape, pink lantern, Philippine orchid
FamilyMelastomataceae
Plant TypeHouseplant, tropical shrub
Height and Width3–5 ft. tall (indoors), 1–2 ft. wide (indoors)
OriginPhilippines, Southeast Asia
Flower colorsPink
Foliage colorDark green above, paler below
Sun ExposureBright indirect light, short periods of weak direct light
Soil Type & pHWell-drained soil suitable for orchids, acidic
Special featuresShowy flowers and evergreen foliage

How to Grow Medinilla Houseplants

Medinilla can be grown indoors or in greenhouses in pots and containers. They are fairly slow-growing and do not need much maintenance provided their watering and climate needs are met. Read on for more specific growing information. 

Propagation

The showy medinilla is not the easiest plant to propagate, but success can be had through stem tip cuttings. These cuttings must be potted in a high humidity environment or under plastic. The use of a suitable root hormone powder can improve rooting time and success. 

The huge leaves of this plant are a challenge for root development of the cutting since a huge amount of moisture may be lost through transpiration. Keep only two leaves and cut both of them in half to reduce this effect. 

Larger plants can also be divided at the roots, and it is possible to grow new plants from seed. 

Soil

The best soil to use is a commercial orchid mix since these plants prefer similar, acidic conditions. If your water is naturally alkaline, you should consider amending your soil with peat moss or even using reverse osmosis or distilled water. 

Pruning

Showy medinilla is a fairly large house plant when fully grown, but its size can be managed through pruning. It is best to do all your pruning after the plant has completed blooming to avoid interfering with the magnificent flowers. 

Simply remove dead and unhealthy growth with a sharp, sterilized cutting tool to neaten the plant. Remember, dead plant material should always be removed from the soil surface. 

Repotting and Transplanting

Medinilla grows to a respectable size of over 4 feet (1.2m), but it can take as long as a decade to reach these dimensions. 

This means repotting may not be necessary every year. Keep an eye on the rate at which water drains into the soil. When it stops draining freely, or if the roots grow out through the bottom of the container, it is time to consider repotting. 

Repot your plant in spring when the growing season commences. Choose a pot one size larger than its current container to allow the plant to continue growing.

medinilla magnifica

How to Care for Medinilla Houseplants

Medinilla plants can be a little more demanding than other plants when it comes to providing them with the moisture, humidity, and temperatures that they need. They are not adapted to very low light conditions and will benefit from regular feeding. Read on for more details.

Water

These tropical plants require consistent access to moisture. Water your plant regularly and do not allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. 

Feel the soil surface to determine when the plant needs more water. You can allow it to dry down to about ¾ inches (2cm) or so. 

Less water will be required in the winter and fall since temperatures will be lower and the plants will not be growing at the same rate. Nevertheless, the plant should still not be allowed to dry out. Increased watering will again be necessary when flower stalks first appear in spring.

Sunlight

Medinilla magnifica plant grows on the trunks of large trees in nature and is therefore shaded at midday. The plants may receive light as the sun rises and falls in the morning and afternoon sky, however. 

Attempt to recreate these conditions in the home environment by providing the plant with plenty of light near an east or west-facing window. It will survive in darker areas but will not produce the spectacular flowers this plant is known for.

Temperature and Humidity

Showy medinilla thrives in high humidity and warm temperatures of at least 68°F (20°C) in the growing season. Cooler temperatures in the winter and fall are healthy and will simulate the natural seasons these plants are used to. Temperatures below about 59°F (15°C) can be harmful to these tropical evergreens, however. 

This means they can be grown outdoors in humid areas within zones 10 and 11 with protection, but elsewhere will need to be confined indoors. Growing this plant in naturally humid areas like the bathroom or kitchen can be beneficial. Alternatively, you can grow this plant on a water and stone-filled tray or use a humidifier to create the ideal climate. 

Fertilizer

It is necessary to fertilize this plant every two weeks during the summer growing period. Fertilizers for houseplants or orchids that will maintain a slightly acidic soil pH are an ideal choice. 

Be cautious, however, too much fertilizer can result in excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers, and in extreme cases, root burn. Always follow the instructions of the fertilizer you purchase. 

Pest and diseases

Mealybugs and spider mites are occasional pests of medinilla plants. Cold temperatures and lack of moisture are the most common causes of ill health, however. 

Root rot is a common problem that is universal to almost all houseplants. Although medinilla is a thirsty plant, overwatering can be fatal. This condition typically causes yellowing leaves and you may even see the plant’s crown rot and observe mold on the soil surface. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of overfertilizing and burned roots. 

Common Varieties and Cultivars

The showy medinilla has been developed into a few different cultivars including:

  • ‘Dolce Vita’
  • ‘Lambada’
  • ‘Flamenco’

Conclusion

Medinilla is a challenging but rewarding houseplant. If you can provide this tropical beauty with the moisture, humidity, and warmth it needs, it will grace your home with magnificent flowers and impressive foliage for many years.

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