Chandelier Tree
Medinilla magnifica

medinilla closeup

Now and then you see it at the garden centers, the medinilla. Desire to own this imposing plant with its huge flower clusters burn within us. It is not called magnificent for nothing! It is unfortunately rather difficult to grow and is best suited to a orangeries or greenhouse. The medinilla, which is easily recognized by the two large pink bracts that surrounds the flower cluster, belongs to the species Medinilla that contains about 150 species. The blooms are born in tiered clusters, hence the English name chandlier tree. The majority of these comes from Madagascar, while the one most often found in commercial production, M. magnifica, is indigenous to the Philippines. A truly tropical plant with its needs for high humidity and a warm climate. If your covertness (like mine) could not be contained and you still purchased this irresistible plant, here are a few tips to grow your medinilla indoors. There are no guarantees, but by following these rules I managed to keep mine alive and set bud!

Care of Medinilla

medinilla bud Temperature
Room temperature or warmer during the growing season, somewhat cooler under the rest period. This plant is extremely frost intolerant and should not be kept at temperatures below 50F (+10C).

Water generously and remove excess water after about half an hour alternatively sink the whole pot into a bucked, with about 2 inches of water, for about 30 minutes. Water daily during the growth cycle, less often when the plant rests. The medinilla should never be allowed to dry out.

High humidity is a must for the medinilla. If the humidity is too low, you will see brown edges on the leaves and often mishapped new shoots. The Deep Dish Method (Place an upside down deep dish in a constantly water filled bowl, then put the pot on top. The water should not reach the pot.) is not always enough for this plant. Daily misting with water is beneficial.

Feed with a fertilizer suitable for tropical plants (I use the same as for my hibiscus) every week during the growth period.

The medinilla seems to prefer a slightly cooler placing after the flowering period. Stop giving fertilizer and water somewhat more sparingly although not so little the plants dry out.

Medinilla can grow to rather large proportions in greenhouses or tropical areas. Grown in the home it is less vigorous, hence no trimming is necessary.

Replant in a rich but light soil. Mix equal parts composted bark and coarse peat, add a small amount of composted manure. Standard potting soil should be avoided. So called orchid soil can be used, preferably augmented with some composted manure.

My medinilla spent the summer outside in my garden and loved it.