Ask a Question forum→Advice sought - Medinilla magnifica dying leaves

Views: 2001, Replies: 17 » Jump to the end
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 15, 2020 3:54 AM CST
Hi,

Please advise how to help our Medinilla magnifica, as you can see several of the leaves have dying patches.

We suspected overwatering so have cut down on that, and are trying to keep it humid by misting (in London UK, humidity is about 50% according to our thermostat).

Is the pot too small?

Any other tips to save it gratefully received!
Thumb of 2020-06-15/Fingernail/ea00fb


Thumb of 2020-06-15/Fingernail/616162


Thumb of 2020-06-15/Fingernail/01c50a


Thumb of 2020-06-15/Fingernail/bf192d

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
Jun 15, 2020 9:28 AM CST
Welcome! How do you decide when to water and how much do you give it?

How far away is the nearest wndow?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 15, 2020 9:34 AM CST
Hi, thanks for the reply. There's a bay window about 2 meters away (opposite the fireplace)... it gets decent afternoon light at the moment but it's not in the most direct light.

It came with a label saying to water 300ml every week so initially it was getting that. In the past couple of weeks we've backed off and are judging based on whether the soil is moist. I read elsewhere they don't mind being a bit dry?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
Jun 15, 2020 9:43 AM CST
You have been underwatering it. It is tightly potted - a good thing - so it should be watered as soon as the top surface of the soil feels dry to your touch, however often that is. When you water always water thoroughly enough that all of the soil is saturated and the excess flows through the drain holes. No need to measure out a precise amount.

Medinilla is a bit sensitive to mineral salts o if your tap water is hard, use filtered or distilled instead.

I think that location is fine.

Trim off the spent flower and the brown leaf edges to make it look nicer.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 16, 2020 1:59 AM CST
Thanks! We'll try watering it more as you suggest.

I also noticed a few white spots on lots of the leaves yesterday, not sure if these might be a pest or fungus? Found some references to red spider mites about this plant but I don't think this looks like that.

Thumb of 2020-06-16/Fingernail/e1b0e6


Thumb of 2020-06-16/Fingernail/512b9f


Thumb of 2020-06-16/Fingernail/43438b

Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Jun 16, 2020 5:21 AM CST
What do you have this potted in? Is the soil a light porous mix, or a heavier peaty mix?
This is important because Medinilla are actually epiphytic. Overwatering is what kills most of the Medinilla that are potted in potting mixes. Not under watering.

Medinilla in nature usually grow attached to other hosts like trees.
Award winning beaded art at ceinwin.deviantart.com!
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 16, 2020 5:29 AM CST
Yes it's not very light, would it be better to repot in something more porous? What would you recommend? I read somewhere about orchid mix being good for them, with bark?
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Jun 16, 2020 5:33 AM CST
Just to add a bit....Medinilla also require a lot of humidity. They want to be misted to have a humidifier close by and should;t be situated by a window or an A/C-Heat duct. They are epiphytes like orchids, and in nature do not grow rooted into the ground. If you are going to grow it in a pot as a houseplant you should pot it into commercial orchid bark. Even though it grows like an orchid, the roots that it uses to attach to a tree do not absorb water. This plant absorbs water through its LEAVES like a bromeliad.

These are just general tips I can share, having grown a lot of medinilla myself, they are not exceptionally suited to growing as houseplants. They like to be outdoors with humidity, and warmth, they are happiest in temps over 60F but under 80F.
Award winning beaded art at ceinwin.deviantart.com!
[Last edited by Gina1960 - Jun 16, 2020 5:34 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2275673 (8)
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 16, 2020 5:47 AM CST
Thanks for the tips. Temperature will be fine all year round within that range where it is, no AC here!

Ok it sounds like we should repot it in bark and keep it as humid and misted as possible. No room for it in the bathroom unfortunately!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
Jun 16, 2020 8:10 AM CST
Your plant was grown in a non-epiphytic potting mix and the roots are adapted to that. Trying to replace that potting mix at this point would probably cause more trauma to it. When potted in soil mixes the roots need more moisture than they would in nature.

Increased humidity may provide some benefit, but it is not a substitute for proper watering.

The tiny white spots are mealy bugs. Mix a solution of 5 parts water, 1-part alcohol, and a squirt of liquid dish soap. Then, spray all leaf and stem surfaces until they are dripping wet. It is a very messy task, but unless you get complete coverage and make direct contact even with the ones you cannot see, the survivors will reproduce, and the infestation will return. Rinse with plain water after the thorough spraying.

Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 16, 2020 10:12 AM CST
Thanks for the advice on the bugs.

Yes, it wasn't in bark before. Okay, we'll try leaving it as it is for now, watering as you suggest and will try to rid it of the bugs.
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Jun 16, 2020 2:24 PM CST
I'm sorry Will that is just bull. Medinilla is a very popular plant in Florida, magnifica and micrantha are commonly sold here. There are also other more rare forms available but not in the common stores, but from tropical plant and orchid dealers. And they are NEVER sold in the correct substrate. And probably 90% of the people who have no idea that they are epiphytic plants take them home, overwater their too-heavy soil, and kill them. Which the vendors love because then they can try and sell them another one.

Repotting into a more porous better draining substrate is not a death sentence. You never advocate repotting ANY plant.

Fingernail, you should do your own research online into Medinillas and decide for yourself what you should do based on how the plant is meant to grow in nature. Relying on advice from a forum like this is risky, because some people who reply to you actually have some years of hands on growing experience with the plant you are asking about, and some have little or no hands on experience.
Award winning beaded art at ceinwin.deviantart.com!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
Jun 17, 2020 9:15 AM CST
Easy, Gina. No reason to get nasty over this difference in approach. I prefer to find some common ground.

There is the "right" way to grow plants by duplicating their native habitat as much as possible and I understand that is what you are advocating. I have no issue with that and appreciate your extensive knowledge of the origins of many plants. However, there is also the practicality of how plants are grown in commercial nurseries and made available to the average consumer for use in their homes.

Plants are remarkably adaptable to conditions in which they don't normally grow. Medinilla's, among other species, can be adapted to a non-epiphytic potting media and grown successfully indoors that way, even in low humidity. It may not be the preferred way to pot an epiphyte, but for a plant that has been grown and its roots already adapted to a non-epiphytic medium, it is usually best to leave it that way rather than potentially doing significant damage by replacing the soil it is growing in. That is especially true for those with considerably less experience than you and other serious hobbyists. The advice I offer is not so much intended for experienced hobbyists like yourself – who don't need it - but for folks who simply want to keep their plants healthy and alive as easily as possible.

Just for the record, while I do regularly advise against unnecessary repotting, I also I do recommend repotting and how to do it properly when it is warranted. To write that I never advocate repotting ANY plant is inaccurate and unfair.

Peace! I tip my hat to you.



Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jun 17, 2020 11:36 AM CST
Yes, epiphytes can be grown in a soil medium. We do it all the time because we can't figure out how to grow a plant unless its in a pot. But, the medium also needs to accommodate the epiphytic nature of the plant: fast draining and fast drying. I would never put an epiphyte in a peat based potting mix as it would be disastrous for the plant.

This question was asked because Fingernail's plant is not doing well. Obviously, there needs to be some changes or the plant will continue to go down hill, I suspect because the roots aren't getting enough air and are staying too wet too long. Giving it the proper growing medium and care seem like the appropriate moves.

Taking the plant out of the current soil, giving it a gentle shake to remove any loose soil and repotting in an orchid type mix seems like a good move.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
London, UK
Fingernail
Jun 18, 2020 5:13 AM CST
Thanks all for the replies, glad to see such passion although sorry to have unearthed some animosity!

Taking all into consideration we have repotted into an orchid mix and will see how it goes. We will also try to get rid of the mealy bugs as Will suggested.

As far as I'm concerned the plant was basically dying so if we do manage to save it, that's a bonus!

OzGrower
Nov 6, 2020 6:41 PM CST
I grow magnifica as well as about another 8 species. Humidity is what they thrive on, low humidity can result in brown patches as well as excess fertiliser. Stand the plant on a humidity tray (a tray wider than the magnifica pot filled with pebbles, stand the pot on the pebbles and add water, keep the water level below the bottom of the plant pot so it doesn't draw up water from the tray)
Be careful with alcohol for mealybugs as it can dehydrate the plant tissues, I have caused black patches on the flower bracts with it so always watered down.
If you repot add Perlite to the soil mix to open it up
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
Image
Gina1960
Nov 6, 2020 8:56 PM CST
Ha ha I AM LAUGHING LOL.
Animosity.
These plants are epiphytes. Grow it as an epiphyte and you will have no problems, grow it as a terrestrial and you will have lots of problems
Award winning beaded art at ceinwin.deviantart.com!
London, UK
Fingernail
Nov 7, 2020 5:05 AM CST
Didn't expect another reply so long after! Just to update everyone, after repotting about 5 months ago the plant is... not dead yet! However it's also not showing any signs of new growth, so I'm not sure what we should expect for the future. We are keeping it as humid as possible and allowing the water to drain when it is watered. We treated the mealybugs with topical application of alcohol rather than soaking the whole plant, and although it needed a few tries, they do seem to have gone away for now.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by Baja_Costero and is called "Heart of darkness"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.