Medinilla magnifica: care, propagation & varieties

Katja
Katja
Katja
Katja

I study landscape ecology and through my studies have discovered a love for plants. Plants are not only beautiful, but also have countless fascinating survival strategies. To bring a bit of nature into my home as well, I nurture my houseplants and herbs on every possible windowsill.

Favourite fruit: rhubarb and all kinds of berries
Favourite vegetables: onions and garlic

Medinilla magnifica is an extraordinary but demanding houseplant. Here is our expert guide on how to care for the medinilla and promote flowering.

blooming medinilla magnifica
Medinilla magnifica‘s unique flowers make it stand out [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

The tropical plant Medinilla magnifica has a particularly long flowering period, where its magnificent flowers are on full display. Here you can learn not only how to make your medinilla bloom, but also common care mistakes to avoid and how to treat diseases.

Medinilla: origin and characteristics

Medinilla (Medinilla magnifica) originates from the Philippines and belongs to the Melastomataceae family. In its tropical homeland, this evergreen shrub grows both epiphytically (on other plants or trees) and terrestrially (on the ground). The medinilla’s bold flowers have made it a popular houseplant. The plant can reach heights of 2.5 meters in nature, and as a houseplant, medinilla can grow up to 1.5 meters tall – though it will usually remain much more dwarfed.

Medinilla magnifica plants have leathery, dark green leaves with a distinctive leaf vein and between February and August form pink clusters of flowers. These stunning flowers hang down from the light green flower stalks and can grow up to 30 cm long. After being pollinated, instead of small flowers, the plant will produce decorative and seed-rich berries.

medinilla leaf veins
The medinillla’s leathery leaves have distinct leaf veins [Photo: Doikanoy/ Shutterstock.com]

Medinilla plant varieties

When talking about the medinilla plant, people are often referring to the Medinilla magnifica variety. And although the magnifica is indeed beautiful, there are lots of other types of Medinilla that are just as stunning!

  • Medinilla magnifica ‘Flamenco’: This medinilla variety is named after its bright pink stems and flowers.
  • Medinilla magnifica ‘Piccolini’: The ‘Piccolini’ variety is smaller than the traditional medinilla but its leaves and flowers are just as beautiful.
  • Medinilla magnifica ‘Dolce Vita’: The ‘Dolce Vita’ variety is an especially decorative variety that blooms with more flowers and flower clusters than the average medinilla.
  • Medinilla magnifica ‘Lambada’: The variety ‘Lambada’ is similar in colour to the variety ‘Flamenco’, but is slightly smaller.
  • Medinilla sortechinii: This is another species of Medinilla that has orange-red, coral-shaped flowers. It is unfortunately very rare.
medinilla sortechinii variety
A rare Medinilla species is the Medinilla sortechinii [Photo: yakonstant/ Shutterstock.com]

Planting Medinilla magnifica: where and how

Medinilla comes from the tropics, so it needs warmth and high humidity. The ideal location is a bright spot that is not exposed to direct sunlight, such as a conservatory. Since it grows under the canopy of tropical forests, it is best kept in light shade, for example under a larger plant.

Keep your Medinilla magnifica plant at a temperature between 19 and 25 °C. In winter this can be a little cooler as the medinilla needs a resting period to create spring flower buds. Yet, even in winter and during the rest period, the temperature must never fall below 15 °C. Humidity should be at least 60% all year round and can be increased by spraying the plant or by placing bowls of water near it.

Draughts are just as damaging to medinilla plants as strong temperature fluctuations or frequent moving of the plant – so avoid this as much as possible.

medinilla in a bright location
A location in a warm conservatory is optimal for medinilla [Photo: Gardens by Design/ Shutterstock.com]

Tip: You can also place the medinilla on a saucer filled with pebbles or expanded clay and water. This way, the plant is not directly in the water, but still benefits from the humidity.

Plant your medinilla in a permeable, humus rich and slightly acidic soil, like our Plantura Organic Flower Compost. When planting, place a layer of pebbles or shards of clay on the bottom of the pot so that excess water can drain off easily.

pink medinilla
Some Medinilla varieties bloom in bold pink [Photo: Africa Studio/ Shutterstock.com]

Medinilla magnifica care

Given its tropical origins, medinilla care can be a little challenging. Most importantly, the right location is crucial for medinilla plants. If placed in a bright spot with a consistent warm temperature, your medinilla plant is pretty much guaranteed to flower abundantly. When it comes to medinilla plant care, make sure to provide a good supply of water and nutrients during the flowering period and give the plant a resting period in winter.

Pruning, watering, and fertilising Medinilla magnifica

Always keep your medinilla’s root ball moist during the growing season. Ensure good drainage and remove excess water from the saucer or planter about 15 minutes after watering. In the summer, you can also submerge the root ball completely in water from time to time and then drain it well. Always use room-temperature and lime-free water, even when spraying the leaves. During the dormant winter period, reduce watering: just give your plant enough water to prevent the root ball from drying out.

mature medinilla plant
In nature, Medinilla magnifica grows into a mighty shrub [Photo: PurMoon/ Shutterstock.com]

Since medinilla flowers for several months, the plant needs plenty of nutrients. Fertilise your plant with a liquid fertiliser, like our Plantura Liquid Flower Food, once a week during the growing season from February to August to support healthy growth and abundant flowering. During the winter dormant phase, there is no need to fertilise.

Plantura Liquid Flower Food
Plantura Liquid Flower Food

Liquid fertiliser with an NK ratio of 3-4, for all flowering plants, promotes healthy plant growth, child & pet friendly

Although it is possible to prune medinilla plants, it is not strictly necessary. By cutting off withered flowers, you can extend the flowering period. Remove dead and withered leaves too. If you trim medinilla shoots by half their length after flowering, you will promote more flowering next year. It is also a good idea to cut the Medinilla magnifica back more significantly – to the woody shoots – in the spring. This encourages new shoots and stimulates branching.

medinilla blooms
Medinilla blooms consist of many smaller blooms [Photo: Banditta Art/ Shutterstock.com]

Repot your medinilla before its springtime flowering, only when the old pot has become too small. As the roots of medinilla are very sensitive, take care when repotting: Damaging the root ball can lead to loss of leaves and other major problems.

Care for medinilla plants after flowering

Once the flowers of Medinilla magnifica have withered, cut them off. At the end of the flowering period, a few new leaves will form. From this point on, overwinter the plant at temperatures of 15 to 20°C. Stop fertilising and reduce watering to stimulate bud formation. Cooler temperatures are beneficial, but do not let conditions drop below 15°C. Once buds have developed, return the plant to a warmer location.

How to cure problems and diseases

Medinilla care is not straightforward, so it is common for plants to become damaged. Here are common causes of leaf loss and discolouration, and how you can save your Medinilla magnifica.

medinilla flowers
Those who care for the medinilla properly will be rewarded with a rich blooms [Photo: Tracy Immordino/ Shutterstock.com]
  • Leaves falling off: Leaf loss can be caused by drafts, insufficient light and low humidity. Moving your medinilla to a new place can also lead to leaf loss.
  • Browning leaves: Brown foliage is often the result of waterlogging or dry air. Check the soil and if necessary, repot the plant in fresh soil. It is essential that the pot has a drainage hole to allow excess water to drain out.
  • Spider mites: If the air is not humid enough, it is easy for your medinilla plant to get a spider mite infestation. Tell-tale signs of an infestation include webs and small spots on the leaves.
  • Scale insects and aphids: Scale insects and aphids can be recognized, among other things, by the honeydew they secrete. These pests can be particularly destructive because they weaken the plant by sucking out its sap.
wilted medinilla
Medinilla should not be moved too often, as they are quite sensitive to their location [Photo: natalean/ Shutterstock.com]

Propagating medinilla plants

Propagating medinilla is quite complicated and only works under ideal conditions. However, since the plant is tolerant of pruning, there is no harm in trying.

To propagate medinilla plants, take 10 cm long cuttings from non-woody shoots after the plant’s autumn or spring flowering period. Cut each shoot diagonally with a sharp knife and dip the stems in rooting hormone powder to promote root growth. Plant the cuttings in a suitable soil, such as sphagnum moss, and keep them in warm and humid conditions. The temperature around the roots should be constantly between 30 and 35 °C; which can be achieved with a heating mat. To achieve the necessary high humidity you can, for example, put a plastic bag over the cuttings. After about four weeks, the first roots should have formed.

Tip: Willow trees naturally contain a large amount of the plant hormone auxin which supports root formation. To extract this, place young willow shoots in water, which then release the hormone into the water.

meldinilla berries
Seeds can be obtained from Medinilla berries [Photo: subin-ch/ Shutterstock.com]

Alternatively, you can grow Medinilla magnifica from seeds by sowing them in moist sphagnum moss. The plant can also be propagated by air layering: a method of propagation using stems still attached to the parent plant. The stem is wrapped with damp moss to encourage roots to form. Ideally, do this on upper leaf stems between March and April.

Overwintering Medinilla magnifica plants

In winter, the medinilla needs a rest period of eight to twelve weeks, during which the plant’s new buds will begin to form. For this, keep the plant in cooler conditions around 15 to 17 °C, but no colder than 15 °C. Reduce watering: only water when the surface of the soil is dry to prevent the root ball from completely drying out. It does not need to be kept constantly moist, as in summer. You do not need to apply any fertiliser during this time.

Medinilla in hanging basket
Medinillas also look good planted in hanging baskets [Photo: Pilarc/ Shutterstock.com]

Are medinilla plants poisonous?

Whether medinilla is poisonous has not been scientifically determined. It is assumed that it does not contain any toxic substances, but this is not certain. To be safe, no parts of this plant should be eaten.

Medinilla magnifica is not the only houseplant that blooms perennially. This article will introduce you to a few more flowering houseplants.

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