Articles (Jungle on A Windowsill) - Participant# 303 || 2004 Contest

Medinilla Love Story
by Alexandra Boutova (Riga, Latvia)

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This is a story of my love to a beautiful Medinilla.

I live in Latvia, a little country on the Baltic Sea coast.

I have my birthday in March. In my country March is not the most pleasant time: snowing, raining, chilly windy, wet and yacky... My husband knows that flowers is the best present for me. At all times he would give me roses, strelitzia or something else with pretty fragrant flowers. Four years ago he brought me a pot with beautiful divine plant. It was medinilla.

I never saw such an interesting and beautiful plant and knew nothing about it. So, I tried to look for any info. Soon the book was found; it was "The flowers in your home" by D.G.Hessayon. It said that this difficult plant doesn't like it at home; it prefers a green house and special care. But I was determined to grow my new plant in a large blooming exotic beauty.

After a few hours when the plant got adjusted to a new home environment, I repotted my medinilla into a nice ceramic pot with a good drainage in the bottom and changed the soil. Medinilla is originated from tropical bog brushwood in Philppines and likes soil consisting of bark, peat moss and humus. A pot should be sufficiently large for the roots growth. After repotting and watering I found a good place for this tropical divine. Medinilla is quite large plant and to place it on a windowsill is not a good idea, the best way for it is to be set up as an individual plant near the window on Southern or East-Southern side of the room.
In our East-Northern European climate during cold season direct sun is very good for tropical plants. Regular watering is necessary, as well as spraying and cleaning leaves with a wet sponge. The Medinilla likes these procedures very much. In summer, when temperature by sunny windows became very high, I was watering and spraying medinilla very frequently and shaded it from the direct sunlight.
Medinilla likes fresh air and you can set it up in a terrace or balcony during warm seasons but remember that the draught is unfavourable for it.
If you have no windows with South or East-Southern expositions, it is not a big deal. More care, more patience, - especially on wintertime when daylight is too short - and you'll get all the success. I used special lamps for additional lighting (for example, PAULMANN), made for them a special hanging setup and fixet it on the ceiling above the tropical plant. In winter it is necessary to use these lamps since twilight (about 3-4 p.m.) for another five-six hours. The distance from lamps to the plant should be at least 20'' so the leaves don't get burned.

I apply a regular liquid fertilizer for medinilla weekly from March to October and on monthly basis in winter. Attention! Never use GUANO as a fertilizer for medinilla; it might be fatal for this plant.

Now my medinilla is large and very pretty. Every spring in April it gets covered with new leaves and great number of pink exotic inflorescences. During bloomig period I water it daily and tie up it's vigorous branches with blossoms to supports. Now my medinilla is more beautiful then four years ago. This way medinilla appreciates my care and love.