Watch out, Mr. Orchid, there's a new houseplant in town! The medinilla magnifica has been climbing the ranks of popularity since it was introduced to the North American houseplant market several years ago. It has appeared regularly in high-profile fashion editorials and interior design magazines and has been called "the Rolls Royce of houseplants" by garden writer Rob Herwig. With its stunning flowers and dramatic dark foliage, it commands attention and growers around the United States and Canada have hastily taken notice. Martha Stewart has several examples of the medinilla magnifca in her Bedford greenhouse and one plant enthusiast in Ontario, Canada, even gave the plant its own website: Medinilla.ca.
Its family name is Melastomataceae, of which there are over 400 varieties. The 'magnifica' variety is currently the only species on offer as a houseplant in the commerical market. Like orchids and staghorn ferns, the medinilla is an epiphyte, meaning it grows non-parasitically on other trees, deriving its nutrients and moisture from the air, rainfall and the organic matter scatttered around its roots. Its natural habitat is the mountainous regions of the Philippines where it is cool and consistently damp. Its most remarkable feature is also its biggest selling point: massive pink flowers that hang pendulously from the plant's stems. The large pink outer petals are actually 'bracts' (coloured leaves) that shelter clusters of small pink flowers, which are non-fragrant. It is difficult not to be inspired by such a beautiful plant. The medinilla magnifica truly lives up to its name! For plant care instructions click here. To read frequently-asked questions about the plant, click here.