Elevated spot best to show off plant's cascades of pink
Late summer and early autumn is the best time for many tropical plants. They thrive in warm humid weather and regular rainfall is exactly what they need. Gingers, heliconias, bromeliads and many tropical shrubs are at their peak now hot dry winds have abated (in some areas).
Look out for some absolutely spectacular medinillas with their stunning cascading clusters of pink flowers. In a warm spot they will flower for most of the year. They are not well known nor widely propagated. I'm not sure why because they are an absolute joy.
Medinillas grow naturally in rainforests from southern Africa and Madagascar through southern Asia and across to the Pacific. As far as I know, they do not occur naturally in Australia, but they grow really well in the tropical and sub-tropical areas.
The genus medinilla contains hundreds of species, but only a handful are commercially available. They prefer a bright, partly shaded position in moist, well-drained soil. Morning sun and afternoon shade is best or bright filtered light all day. They are brilliant in pots and hanging baskets or raised garden beds. An elevated position really sets off those pendulous blooms and also helps to ensure the drainage that is crucial.
Medinilla myriantha flowers all year. It is perhaps the most cold-hardy of the varieties you might find at your local garden centre. It will even withstand light frost. The leaves are large, lush and dark green and contrast beautifully with the huge bunches of pink flowers that are followed by decorative purple-black berries. It will get about 1.5-2m tall.
Medinilla speciosa, also known as medinilla pendula, has beautiful soft pink flowers appearing over a long period, often followed by red fruit turning purple at the end of the season. The leaves are considerably smaller than those on M. myriantha. It's the perfect plant for baskets or elevated pots, reaching a height of about 1m in a few years. It too is quite cold tolerant and can withstand light frost.
Medinillas are long-lived and surprisingly easy to grow. They are perfect for pots, thanks to their long flowering season and their preference for excellent drainage. And because they prefer a bit of shade, they are ideal for brightening up outdoor living areas where they will flower reliably year after year.
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