May 2016: Blooming tropical plants Houseplants of the month

The Blooming tropical plants Anigozanthos, Gloriosa and Medinilla are the Houseplants of the month. Eye-catching, summery and something a bit different for an extravagant display. Make the display extra special with our POS material, which can be downloaded free of charge via the link at the bottom of this article.

The story behind the Blooming tropical plants 

In order to be able to sell these remarkable plants successfully, it’s handy to be able to tell customers more about their background. We will describe all three below briefly. 
Medinilla is native to the mountainous regions of the Philippines, where you can find more than 200 different species. The plant is called Kapa-kapa in the Philippines. There are more than 400 species worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia, around the Pacific and in tropical Africa. Medinilla grows in trees as an epiphyte - that means that the plant does not draw any nutrients from the host. The best-known amongst the houseplants is Medinilla magnifica. The genus name Medinilla is derived from J. de Medinilla, governor of the Mariana Islands in 1820. The species epithet 'magnifica’ suggests that the plant has magnificent flowers, and that’s no lie. The plant produces sprays of flowers which can reach a length of 30 cm.
Anigozanthos grows wild in south-west Australia around Shark Bay and Mount Baker. This rugged, dry environment is perfect for the Kangaroo paw, as it is commonly known because of its unusual flowers which resemble the paws of the eponymous animal. The red and green variant is the symbol of Western Australia. The name Anigozanthos is derived from the Greek Anises = uneven and Anthos = flower. This houseplant is a ‘long day plant’. That means that the plant only flowers when the days provide more than 15 hours of daylight. 
Gloriosa is native to India and the central and southern part of Africa, where it grows as a climber. Nowadays the plant is found throughout the tropical belt. Gloriosa is a member of the Liliaceae family. The underground tuberous rhizomes are elongated and have eyes from which runners grow. Gloriosus means ‘illustrious’, and this fabulous eye-catching plant radiates that virtue in all directions. Gloriosa’s tendrils can reach the substantial length of some 5 metres, on which the characteristic flowers grow with the petals curving back and the distinctive stamens.

What to look for when buying Blooming tropical plants

All the species are sold in different pot sizes and colours. Generally speaking the plants must be free of pests and diseases, but there is considerable variation between the species as to what the plant is sensitive to. As with most flowering plants it’s a good idea to pay more attention to the ripeness in the winter months. Too unripe can mean that the plant will not fully flower for the customer or that buds can easily be shed or droop. Keep the temperature above 18°C - low temperatures are disastrous for the growth and blooming of tropical plants. 

Medinilla This houseplant is sold in various sizes, ranging from 1 layer of leaves with 2 buds to 3 layers of leaves with 15+ buds, in pot sizes ranging from 14 cm to 30 cm. Check carefully that the leaves are not damaged, do not show scorching (dark spots) and are free of mealybug and brown scale. A storage and transport temperature of above 15°C is important.

Anigozanthos Check that the plants are sturdy and have an attractive shape. The more buds and stems there are on the plant, the longer the customer will be able to enjoy it. The plants must get sufficient light at the point of sale and not be too damp. If a lot of moisture is retained in the cellophane, botrytis can occur - a fungus which seriously detracts from the decorative value. The leaf is sometimes black, which is often also caused by fungus. This only occurs rarely with the modern range, incidentally. 

Gloriosa This houseplant is often sold in pots featuring arches, triangles or other climbing frames. The height of the plant combined with the number of tendrils, their length and the number of flowers determines the purchase cost. Excessive cold can cause darker spots on the leaves. Make sure that the leaves do not get too wet in the cellophane in order to prevent botrytis, a fungus which can rapidly disfigure the leaves. Ensure that the soil is sufficiently damp, otherwise the leaves will droop. The plants are attractive to aphids, so pay extra attention to this when buying.

Choice of Blooming tropical plants

The range of these remarkable flowering plants is growing rapidly, and the market is seeing an ever greater number of colours and flower shapes.

Medinilla Years of breeding mean that there are now multiple cultivars on the market. The best-known is Medinilla magnifica with its pink flowers. However, there are also new varieties available such as the Medinilla ‘Flamenco’ with a bright pink flower and dark upright leaves, and Medinilla ‘Dolce Vita’, with extra large and full sprays of flowers which continue to flower for longer and have a better lifespan, particularly in the winter months. 

Anigozanthos This houseplant is offered in various pot sizes and colours: red, grey, green, pink and yellow are the most common, usually offered in mixed trays. Bush is the best-known series and consists of attractive branched plants in various cultivars. The Garden Jewel series is a widely available garden plant.

Gloriosa In pots this houseplant is offered in G. rothschildiana’s traditional original red colour with yellow edges on the petals. In recent years the range has been expanded with new colours with which you will be familiar from the cut flower range, particularly as a result of breeding in Japan. These varieties are increasingly also being marketed in pots, in yellow, salmon and orange, such as ‘Exotic Orange’ or bicoloured ‘Twin Colour’.  

Care tips for customers

Medinilla requires a light position; in winter months the plant can even tolerate direct sunlight. Don’t place in full sun in the spring and summer because of leaf scorching. Water the plant moderately: the soil can dry out a bit between waterings. It’s better to be a little too dry than too wet. The houseplant needs no food and does not need to be soaked. The ideal temperature for Medinilla is between 17- 25°C. To get the plant to flower again, the exhausted flowers should be removed and the plant should be left in a light and cooler (16-18°C) spot for 2 to 3 months. As soon as the plant shows new buds, move it to a warmer location and give it more water and some food once a month. 

Anigozanthos likes a warm, sunny spot which is not too wet, either indoors or outside. Because of its origins in well-draining soil, this houseplant cannot tolerate damp soil. It should therefore be watered sparingly, and keep the temperature around 20°C. Remove old branches in order to encourage the plant to flower again, but this will only work in periods with long hours of daylight. Overwintering the plant requires a temperature which remains above 20°C.

Gloriosa can be kept both indoors and outdoors, although the temperature must be above 18°C. A sheltered and light spot is important. Regular watering, avoiding standing water and feeding once a week will help Gloriosa to keep flowering lavishly through to the autumn. To retain the plant, keep the soil a little drier after flowering. The aboveground parts of the plant will then die back and the tubers can be dug out of the soil and stored dry. In the spring, plant the tubers in fresh soil at a depth of around 3 cm with the growing tip pointing upwards. Keep the soil damp and give it higher temperatures again so that stems and buds can form.

Sales and display tips for Blooming tropical plants

Various uses can be found for all these remarkable flowering plants. 

  • The larger sizes of Medinilla look fabulous as a solo plant on a pedestal or corner of an item of furniture. A spot can always be found for the smaller sizes: recommend a pot that fits well with the customer’s interior, so that everyone can give houseroom to something special.
  • Anigozanthos is also highly suited for use in plant arrangements, or in a plant dish for on the table. It’s also an excellent windowsill plant which can cope with full sunlight.
  • Anigozanthos can also be placed outdoors in the spring and summer months; it’s a member of the in-out group flowering plants which can be used as both houseplants and as container plants.
  • Gloriosa is also an in-out plant in the spring and summer months. It’s interesting to remove support and arrange the plant’s long tendrils in a large bowl.

Images of Blooming tropical plants

You can download the images below free of charge.

Blooming tropical plants poster

You can download the poster using the link below. 

05_poster-uk-blooming_tropical_plantsi.pdf