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MEDINILLA

Tropical ornamental, evergreen foliage and flowering plants, from Malaya, Java, Sumatra and the Philippines. They belong to the family Melastomaceae, and are among the most handsome of hothouse plants. The principal kind, M. magnifica, forms a woody plant or shrub, with stout, winged branches, 4 ft. in height, and has large, broad, ovate or oblong, shining, leathery leaves, 12 in. long and 8 in. wide. The rose-pink flowers, which are about 1 in. in diameter, are produced on a pendulous panicle (branching spike) about 12 in. in length. In addition, the flower stalks and the bracts (small leaves at the base of the flowers) are also pink. The name Medinilla commemorates Jose de Medinilla of Pineda, a governor of the Ladrones.

Handsome Hothouse Flowering Plants. These plants require a minimum winter temperature of 60 degrees, and the best potting compost consists of equal parts of loam and leaf mold or peat moss, with a little well-decayed manure and a sprinkling of sand and crushed charcoal. Repotting is done in February. The plants are taken from the pots, and the crocks and any loose soil removed with a pointed stick; they are then set in pots two sizes larger. The pots must be filled to one third their depth with crocks, as these plants require abundance of water during the growing season, but soon deteriorate if the soil becomes waterlogged. The compost must be made moderately firm, as this ensures shortjointed growth, which is conducive to flower production.

Details of Management. After potting, the plants are shaded from sunlight, and syringed two or three times daily to assist them to root into the new compost. It is necessary to syringe the lower as well as the upper surfaces to keep down red spider mites, which quickly breed on the leaves and spoil their appearance. While the plants are making new shoots, the atmosphere is kept moist by damping the floor and benches, and the plants must also be shaded from bright sunlight. Well-rooted plants arc watered freely, and dilute liquid fertilizer is given once a week.

When growth has finished, less water is necessary, and the plants must be exposed to more light and air to ripen the shoots for flower production. When the flower buds are swelling, the plants are watered more freely again, and dilute liquid fertilizer is given once a week. After flowering, the plants should be lightly pruned into shape.

When to Take Cuttings. The principal method of propagation is by cuttings. Half-ripened side shoots are removed with a “heel” of old wood in March, and, after the "heel” has been pared cleanly, they are inserted in a propagating case with a bottom heat of 75-80 degrees. The case is closed to keep the atmosphere moist, which prevents the leaves from wilting, but it must be opened each morning to admit fresh air, and so prevent the accumulation of stagnant moisture.

When roots have formed, more air is given gradually, and in a few days the plants are potted singly in small pots. When they are well rooted in these, they are transferred to 5-in. pots, and subsequently into larger ones. The main shoots and subsequent side branches must be stopped to ensure well-branched plants.

The chief kinds are M. magnifica, rose-pink, 4 ft.; M. Teysmannii, rose-pink (without rosecolored bracts); and M. Curtisii, white flowers, purple anthers.

 



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