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What Is Medinilla?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Over 150 lush species make up the tropical plant genus medinilla. These flowering plants are from the Melastomataceae family. Living in tropical regions of the world, medinilla vegetation exists in the form of evergreen shrubs or lianas.

Depending on the specific species, leaves and flowers of medinilla plants vary. Most of the plants used for ornamental purposes feature drooping panicles of vibrant pink, white, and purple flowers. These hanging clusters resemble long, visually pleasing bunches of small grapes. Overhanging pink bracts shadow the flowers at their base, forming a striped, artful outline.

Most medinilla perennial species are native to the Pacific Islands and southern Asia, particularly to China. Many can also be found growing naturally in Madagascar as well. In its native environment, medinilla typically grows at high altitudes, often in rain forest settings.

Elsewhere in the world, they are cultivated as ornamental plants by gardeners and botanical garden staff, typically in containers. During the winter months, the plants may be kept alive indoors or within a greenhouse with light, infrequent misting, and plenty of sunlight and humidity. While this genus is largely unaffected by parasites or other pests, when kept indoors it can be susceptible to scaling and spider mites.

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Stems of these plants are rigid and erect, often with a ribbed texture. The plants' glossy leaves are typically wide, structured opposite or whorled around each other. Some species, however, feature alternately placed leaves. The succulent leaves are also considered long, and may grow up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length each.

These tender plants can generally grow up to 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) in height when grown in the Western world. In their native habitat, they may reach up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) in height. In the rain forest, the plants often grow from trees. Blooming takes place from late spring to midsummer.

Locations with access to both sun and shade are ideal for cultivating medinilla plants. Thriving in humid environments, the plants grow best inside a greenhouse when grown in their nonnative environments. Leaf cuttings may be used to start new plants. The shrubs should be grown in well-drained, moist soil that is slightly acidic.

People may keep medinilla plants for a variety of reasons. Due to their attractive appearance, the flowers draw in many welcome garden guests, from bees to butterflies. Birds may also be attracted to the plants.

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