Medinilla myriantha

Malaysian Orchid - Malaysian Grapes

The flowers of Medinilla myriantha remind me of grapes. They aren't purple, but they dangle from the stem tips in grape-shaped bunches. The plants are sometimes referred to as Malaysian grapes. The pink flower panicles appear irregularly (they can skip a season or a year) in spring and summer.

The deep green leaves are striking as well. They are large (up to a foot long) and wavy with bright green veins running their length.

In the Philippines, where it occurs naturally, some Malaysian orchids grow in the forks of tree branches just as true orchids do.

Others grow in the soil. In this environment, it can grow to 6 feet tall and wide.

In the temperate U.S., half that is more the norm.

This rainforest plant requires constant warmth and high humidity. Outside of the tropics, a greenhouse is the best environment for it. It is only hardy outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11.

There is some disagreement about the lowest temperature it can take. Some references say 65 degrees, some nurseries report it surviving without damage into the 50s, some gardeners claim theirs have survived 40 degrees F.

My personal practice with tender plants is to monitor them when temps fall into the 40s. If they show no leaf or stem damage, I leave them out until temperatures are expected to fall below 40. Then the big operation to move all the tropicals under cover begins. The only plants that are moved in sooner are the ones that show leaf damage in the 40s.

Usually, plants with thin leaves have this problem and all it affects is the leaves. One example of this is hibiscus. The leaves turn yellow and drop or wilt and won't recover when it gets cold. I only notice this on the potted one inside the screen room because I pass so close to it when going in and out. I have several hibiscus bushes in the ground, so I know that they can go into the low 20s with only minor damage.

In my experience, very few plants will suffer permanent damage from exposure to temperatures above freezing.

Give Medinilla myriantha light shade and regular water, especially while it is flowering.

The Malaysian orchid needs a lot of air around its epiphytic roots. Pot it in a loose soil. You could mix orchid bark into a peat based potting mix to make it coarse enough. A 10-12 inch pot should suffice.

Feed with a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

Medinilla myriantha growing in the shade of ferns beside a koi pond in Manila.

Medinilla myriantha is vulnerable to red spider mites. They usually attack when the humidity is too low. A horticultural soap solution sprayed on the undersides of the leaves will help to control them. They probably won't go away until the plant starts getting the humidity it requires.

Cut the plant back after the flowers fade. Shorten all long stems by half their length if you want to keep the plant compact.

You can increase your collection of Malaysian grapes by taking 5 inch tip cuttings in the summer. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone and place into the same soil you will be growing the plant on it. Roots should form within one month.

Your Trip to the Tropics Continues on These Pages:

Fuchsia Plant Care

The Sea Grape Tree

Giant White Bird of Paradise

Yellow Allamanda

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Your plant guides,

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