Medinilla: Care, Propagation & Toxicity
With the Medinilla you bring an extraordinary plant into your home. Even if keeping it is not that easy – we explain how you can optimally care for the Medinilla and promote its flowering.
The Medinilla magnifica catches the eye with its flowers [Photo: nnattalli / Shutterstock.com]
The tropical plant Medinilla magnifica has a particularly long flowering period, during which it displays its decorative flowers extensively. Here you will find out how to make the Medinilla bloom and what the most common care mistakes and diseases are.
Medinilla: origin and characteristics
The Medinilla ( Medinilla magnifica ), also called Medinille, Kapa-Kapa or Malay orchid, originally comes from the Philippines and belongs to the black-mouthed family (Melastomataceae). The evergreen shrub grows both epiphytically (on trees) and terrestrially (on the ground) in its tropical home. Due to its magnificent flowers, the Medinilla is also enjoying increasing popularity as a houseplant. In nature, it can reach heights of 2.5 meters and the Medinilla can also grow up to 1.5 meters in the apartment – but it usually keeps smaller dimensions.
The Medinilla has leathery, dark green leaves with pronounced leaf veins and forms pink, grape-shaped flowers between February and August. These hang down from the light green flower stalks and can be up to 30 cm long. After fertilization, instead of the small flowers, berries are produced, which contain the seeds and are also very decorative.
The leathery leaves show distinct leaf veins [Photo: Doikanoy / Shutterstock.com]
The most beautiful species and varieties
In addition to the Kapa-Kapa, there are many other Medinilla species, which, however, are hardly available as indoor plants. Consequently, the Medinilla magnifica is usually meant when the Medinilla is mentioned. However, there are still numerous varieties of this species, some of which we present here.
- Medinilla magnifica 'Flamenco': This Medinilla variety has flowers and stems in a strong pink, which gives it its name.
- Medinilla magnifica 'Piccolini': The 'Piccolini' variety is smaller than the actual Medinilla, but has equally beautiful leaves and flowers.
- Medinilla magnifica 'Dolce Vita': The flowers of the 'Dolce Vita' variety are even more magnificent, with a larger number of individual flowers and a longer panicle.
- Medinilla magnifica 'Lambada': The Medinilla 'Lambada' variety has a similar color to the 'Flamenco' variety, but is slightly smaller.
- Medinilla sortechinii : This is another type of Medinilla that has orange-red, coral-like flowers and is unfortunately only very rarely available in stores.
A rarer Medinilla species is Medinilla sortechinii [Photo: yakonstant / Shutterstock.com]
Planting Medinilla: location, soil and procedure
The Medinilla is a plant from the tropics, which accordingly requires warmth and high humidity. A location suitable for the Medinilla is also bright, but not exposed to direct sun. If you own a winter garden, it is best to place the Medinilla there. Since it grows in tropical forests, it is best kept in light shade, for example under a larger plant.
The temperature should be between 19 and 25 ° C, in winter it can be a little cooler. In the cold season, the Medinilla needs a rest phase in which the flower buds are created for spring. Even in winter, however, the temperature should never fall below 15 ° C. The air humidity should be at least 60% all year round and can be increased by spraying the plant or by placing water bowls.
Drafts damage the Medinilla just as much as strong temperature fluctuations or frequent relocation of the plant – so avoid this as far as possible.
A location in the warm winter garden is ideal for Medinilla [Photo: Gardens by Design / Shutterstock.com]
Tip : You can also place the Medinilla on a coaster filled with pebbles or expanded clay and water. The plant does not stand directly in the water, but still benefits from the rising damp.
The substrate for the medinilla must be permeable, humic and slightly acidic. It makes sense to put a layer of pebbles or potsherds on the bottom of the pot so that excess water can drain off safely. Our peat-free Plantura organic potting soil, for example, is suitable as a substrate. With its slightly acidic pH, our soil offers optimal conditions for the Medinilla. Its resource-saving production also makes the earth an environmentally friendly choice.
Some varieties have bright pink flowers [Photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com]
Care of the Medinilla
Since the medinilla is a tropical plant, caring for it can be a bit of a challenge. Above all, the choice of location is crucial. If the Medinilla feels comfortable in its place, nothing stands in the way of a rich bloom. When caring for the Medinilla, make sure you have enough water and nutrients during the flowering period and during the rest period in winter.
Cutting, watering and fertilizing
The root ball of the Medinilla should always be kept moist during the growing season. The water must be able to drain off well and should be removed from the saucer or planter about 15 minutes after watering. In summer you can also immerse the root ball completely in water from time to time and then let it drain off well. Always use room warm and lime-free water, also for spraying the leaves. In winter, watering should be reduced: In the resting phase, only enough water is poured to prevent the root ball from drying out.
In nature, the Medinilla grows into a mighty shrub [Photo: PurMoon / Shutterstock.com]
Since the flowering time of the Medinilla is several months, the plant needs sufficient nutrients. Feed her fertilizer once a week during the growing season from February to August to help it grow and flower. Our Plantura organic flower & balcony fertilizer, for example, can be used as an organic fertilizer. This high-quality liquid fertilizer can easily be administered via the irrigation water and provides the Medinilla with important nutrients. The purely organic fertilizer consists of natural ingredients and is kind to the environment. In the resting phase in winter, the Medinilla does not need any fertilizer.
While it is possible to cut the medinilla, it is not necessary. By cutting off dried flowers, the flowering time can be increased. Dead and wilted leaves can also be removed. If you prune the shoots of the Medinilla by half their length after flowering, you will ensure more flowering potential in the next year. It is also a good idea to cut back the Medinilla more generously in spring – down to the woody shoots. This promotes new growth and stimulates branching.
The inflorescence consists of many, small individual flowers [Photo: Banditta Art / Shutterstock.com]
Repotting takes place before the flowering period in spring when the old pot has become too small. Since the roots of the Medinilla are very sensitive, caution is advised when repotting: Damage or division of the root ball can lead to leaf loss, among other things.
Medinilla withered: care after flowering
As soon as the flowers of the Medinilla maginifica have faded, you can cut them off. At the end of the flowering period, some new leaves will appear. From this point on, the Medinilla hibernation should be prescribed at temperatures of 15 to 20 ° C. Avoid fertilizer and reduce watering to encourage budding. Cool temperatures are beneficial, but it shouldn't be colder than 15 ° C. Once buds have developed, the medinilla can again be kept in a constant location in warmer conditions.
Saving Medinilla: What to do with leaf loss and diseases?
Medinilla care is not that easy, which is why damage can often occur. We clarify the common causes of leaf loss and discoloration and how you can save your Medinilla.
Those who take good care of the Medinilla will be rewarded with a rich and long bloom [Photo: Tracy Immordino / Shutterstock.com]
- Leaves fall off : The cause of leaf fall can be drafts, insufficient light and insufficient humidity. Moving to a new location also leads to sheet loss.
- Leaves turn brown : Brown leaves are often the result of waterlogging or dry air. Check the substrate and, if necessary, repot the plant in fresh soil. The pot must have a drainage hole so that the excess water can be drained off.
- Spider mites: If the air is not humid enough, it can easily become infested with spider mites. This manifests itself in webs and small spots on the leaves.
- Scale insects / mealybugs: Scale insects and mealybugs can be recognized by the honeydew that they secrete. They weaken the plant by sucking out its sap. For example, our Plantura organic pest-free neem can be used against uninvited guests, which the lice ingest through the plant sap.
The Medinilla shouldn't be moved too often as it is quite sensitive [Photo: natalean / Shutterstock.com]
The Medinilla does not always succeed in propagating because its cuttings require special conditions. Since the plant is well tolerated by pruning, there is nothing to be said against an attempt.
To do this, cut cuttings about 10 cm long from the non-lignified shoots at an angle with a sharp knife after the flowering period in autumn or in spring. At the intersection of the cuttings, put rooting powder, which is available in the garden and which stimulates the formation of roots with special plant hormones. Now the cuttings have to be placed in a suitable substrate, for example sphagnum moss, and kept under warm, humid conditions. The temperature in the root area should be constant between 30 and 35 ° C; this can be achieved with a heating mat. In addition, a high level of humidity must be ensured, which you can achieve, for example, by putting a plastic bag on top. The first roots have formed after about four weeks.
Tip: Willow water can also support rooting, as willows naturally contain a large amount of the plant hormone auxin. To do this, young willow shoots are placed in water, which then release the hormone into the water.
Seeds can be obtained from the berries [Photo: subin-ch / Shutterstock.com]
You can also grow Medinilla magnifica from seeds by sowing them on damp sphagnum moss. The medinilla can also be propagated by mossing, preferably on the bracts in the period between March and April.
During the winter months, the Medinilla is given a rest period of eight to twelve weeks, during which the buds for flowering in spring are created. For this it should be around 15 to 17 ° C cool, but by no means colder than 15 ° C. Reduce the amount of water you use to prevent the root ball from drying out. Unlike in summer, it does not have to be kept moist at all times. When the substrate is dry on the surface, you can water again a little. No fertilizers are used at all during this time.
The Medinilla also cuts a fine figure in the hanging basket [Photo: Pilarc / Shutterstock.com]
Is the Medinilla Poisonous?
Whether the Medinilla is poisonous has not yet been conclusively clarified. It is believed that it does not contain any toxic substances, but there is no certainty here. To be on the safe side, no parts of the ornamental plant should be eaten.
The Medinilla magnifica is not the only houseplant that has a persistent flower. We introduce you to a few more flowering houseplants.