There seems to be about 375 species of Medinilla occurring in Tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Southern China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, Micronesia, the Solomons, Fiji and Vanuatu. The Philippines having 80 species is regarded as the epicentre for diversity of the genus.
Medinilla are mainly found growing in relatively high altitude tropical moist forest environments, with many species being epiphytic small to medium sized shrubs. This simply means that they use a host tree for support enabling them to occupy a niche environment up off the dark sodden rain forest floor. Many popular garden ornamentals such as species of orchids, bromeliads and ferns are found in similar environments.
When growing Medinilla in your garden try and select a position where you can best provide similar environmental conditions. They need humidity, plenty of moisture with excellent drainage and bright indirect light with no frost, morning sun is ideal. Keep them a little drier during winter.
As they are epiphytes they make excellent subjects for use as pot, or hanging basket specimens. When repotting use a 50:50 mix of a good quality potting mix with an orchid/ bromeliad mix.
Common names that the various species are known by include Malaysan Orchid, Showy Asian Grapes, Rose Grape, Showy Medinilla, Chandelier Tree, Kapa-kapa and Rose Grape and Orange Coral Medinilla.
Arguably the best known and most flamboyant species in the genus is Medinilla magnifica. This plant is truly stunning in flower and has huge pink pendulous bracts, it is a Phillipine species and is probably too cold tender to grow on the NSW Central Coast outdoors. I’ve not seen or heard of this plant being available in Australia at the the time of writing. Medinilla magnifica that I’ve seen offered for sale in Australia are not this species.
At the moment we only have the following four species available for sale if you know of someone with Medinilla magnifica for sale in Australia please let me know as I’d love to try and grow one here.
Medinilla myriantha – Grown for its spectacular cascading clusters of pink flowers, followed by decorative bunches of miniature grape like purple fruit.
In our NSW Central Coast climate they tend to flower a couple of times a year, generally the better your micro climate the longer they will be in flower. It will grow to approximately 1.5 metres.
Medinilla myriantha ‘Pixie’ – Is a beautiful smaller growing variety with much brighter pink flowers than Medinilla myriantha. As with the straight species, the better the conditions the better potential for repeat flowering. Pixie will grow to approximately 1 metre.
Medinilla speciosa – Has beautiful soft pale pink pendulous flowers appearing during the warmer months, often followed by red fruit ripening to purple. It will grow to approximately 1 metre, best displayed in an elevated pot but to display the pendulous flowers at their absolute best, consider using it in an overhead hanging basket.
Medinilla scortechinii – This rarer orange flowered species is more tropical in its requirements. The orange flowers are borne at the end of the branches and look like orange coral. It grows into a low growing small shrub to approximately 600 mm tall and is probably best suited to a basket on a covered patio or similar in our climate on the NSW Central Coast.