It’s a pleasant surprise to see my Hoya nummularioides flowering and this time, fruiting! Hoya plants produce elongated seed pods which the seeds had white feathery florets which acts like parachute for the wind to disperse them, very much like Dandelions.
Most Hoyas are climbers plants, which will attach themselves to a structure or tree as a support. They grow aerials roots which are similar to those on Orchids, absorb water droplets from rain and others. Their roots will grow till they reach a certain surface before they attaches to it. This ensure stability for the plants to grow more leaves.
Hoya flowers are formed in umbels. New flowers can grow from the existing flower stalks and you can observe a cordyceps-like flower stalk after several round of flowering. Small Hoya flowers are very fragrant, as especially this Hoya nummularioides. They are also known as wax flowers and easy to grow in balconies and corridors. However, they will need a considerable time for them to acclimatise before they start to flower and grow!
Have you seen Allamanda flowers before? I bet most people have seen them on Singapore pathways and road kerbs. They are green shrubs with attractive bright yellow flowers. Students may be able to identify them as they are introduced as poisonous plants in the science textbooks. The sap of the plant is poisonous and it is best to avoid physical contact with it.
Besides that, Allamanda makes a great choice for any flowering garden! Recently I made a trip to some local nurseries and I stumbled upon some nice looking Allamanda plants. They are not the usual species that are all around us, but they are another species with bigger flowers and come in other colours!
There are flowers which are almost white in colour and some in pink to deep red! Allamanda is an easy to grow plants for a community garden. It prefers to grow in direct sunlight and therefore, may not be suitable for apartment growers. They are best grown in the ground instead of pots as they will outgrown their pots in a very short time! Do check out these beautiful plants in nurseries in Singapore!
Do you remember my dwarf pineapple? The fruit had grown too big that it started to tip over and snapped! So the plant is back to its usual “leaf-only” state, it will be another long wait before flowers start to emerge.
But this flower does not end its duty here. After months of showy flowers and ballooning fruit, it actually produced two pups! Pups are new leaf growth that can be removed and planted as another plant. Treating these pups as cuttings, these unrooted plants are coated with rooting powder and planted in the soil. Roots will gradually develop and the pup will start growing as another new plant!
So does that mean I got three plants? Nope, actually I had four! the other plant is the crown of the fruit, which I sliced off and planted as a cutting too. This is the way the pineapple growers do to propagate new plants! This crown cutting is much larger than the pups and I decided to transfer it into my community garden and see how it goes!
Have you ever wonder what’s the crispy pink petals found in the Singapore delicacy, Rojak? Rojak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad consists of cucumber, pineapple, turnip, fried tofu and Chinese fried fritters mixed with a sweet and thick peanut sauce. In the Rojak food stall, you may find bunches of unopened pink flowers. Singaporeans called these the Rojak flower.
In fact, these flowers come from a ginger plant commonly known as Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior). The name is derived from the appearance of the opened flowers to a flaming torch. However, this plant may be too big to be grown in the balcony! They comes in a few colours, the most common is pink in colour, and the uncommon and harder to grow will be those flowers in either white or red colour.
Many more emerging flowers
Although the petiole and leaves can grow to a height of 2 metres, the flowers are usually found near the ground. My gardeners cut these opened flowers and use them as cut flowers in the office. They told me that these flowers can last for quite a while, around two weeks!
I made a trip down to see my community garden in Tanglin Secondary School. The school is planning to expand its garden and I was asked to source for more plants and new design of the garden. I was rather surprised that many of the plants there are doing very well, despite the very hot weather recently.
The butterfly pea plant (Clitoria ternatea), is growing extremely well. There are only two plants and they come as a single vine almost half a year ago, and now they had grown into a spectacular shrub! There are countless of flowers and seed pods every now and then, which the school harvest them to make some delicacies.
Flowers and Seed pods
As some would know, the flowers of this plant are harvested to extract its blue colouring, which is used in some Peranakan dishes and Nonya kuehs. The flowers are pounded and squeezed and the blue colouring is then heated before use.
The Butterfly Pea is a very easy to grow vine for apartment gardeners too. They are fast growing and flower readily. However, they are prone to red spider mites and it will be beneficial to inspect the plant every now and then.
Have you heard of ‘musical note plant’? It is definitely not a plant that gives out nice music! I stumbled upon this plant in my recent nursery trip and found them pretty amusing. The flowers resemble the musical notes which are found in music scores and white in colour. They bloom in clusters of more than 10 buds but produce no fragrance.
Botanically known as Clerodendrum incisum, also commonly named ‘witches’ tongue’, this shrub is a sun-loving plant and can grow pretty well in our climate. Eventually the buds will open and the long red stamens emerge.
Every Chinese New Year, my family and I will visit many nurseries around Singapore to view and buy some festive plants for the celebrations. As Chinese believe that 花开富贵, which means blossoms will bring luck and happiness to the family, many festive plants are flowering plants and exclusive to this period of the year.
As many will know, red is the festive colour for Chinese New Year and red flowering plants are the among the favourites. The usual cockscomb plant, Celosia cristata is a traditional plant which many will buy and also the newly introduced red tulips! Azalea is also prized for their red or pink flowers which bloom in great quantities, covering the entire plant!
Other flowering plants which are popular during this season include peach blossoms and Hydrangeas. Their blooms are extremely attractive and unique which make them showy houseplants for the season. I have noticed that there isn’t much variety of plants to choose from compared to last year, probably due to the conservative festive flower market after a bad economy downturn.
However, there are plants which amazed me such as these golden barrel cacti had new hairdos! The spikes are “dyed” with neon colours! Unique but it doesn’t appeal to me as it look unnatural to me.
I would like to take this chance to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year and every success in your future endeavours and gardening! Thanks for all your support the past year!
It’s dwarf pineapple again! Some may feel so bored when I started to repeat such posts. However I had received countless of emails on this plant, many asked for their growing conditions and availability. Generally dwarf pineapple (Ananas nanus), requires at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight to do well. Although this plant can be grown in bright light, the plant’s growth is generally slower than those under direct sunlight.
It has been an exciting week to see the flower spike started to blossom. Row by row from the bottom, the purple flowers started to emerge and bloom. These tubular white centered flowers add to the colourful display of the entire plant! The entire flower spike has red, green and purple colours!
The colours will fade away after all the flowers had bloomed, leaving a white pineapple fruit with green “top”. The green top can also be propagated into a new plant! Dwarf pineapple is definitely an interesting plant you can try to grow in your garden!
Despite the wet monsoon season, some of my plants are doing very well. They braved through the strong winds and extreme temperature drops, and still gave a spectacular show! Finally, my dwarf pineapple started flowering! In my previous entries, I was complaining of this oversized plant which still refuse to flower. I was surprised to find this new flower spike which will gradually colour up and in time for Chinese New Year!
New flower spike!
My Barbados Cherry shrub is now in another fruiting season, I guessed the fertilizers helped in some way. Flowers are still developing and that means more fruit to come! However, because of its pot size, it will not grow any taller anymore.
More juicy cherries New seedlings
Recently I sowed seeds of the Pomegranate plant (Punica granatum). I tried some experiments by soaking some of the seeds in salt water before sowing it in the new pot. The results – those seeds in salt water germinated faster than those did not! The seeds were from the giant sized pomegranate which you can find in supermarkets and I have no idea whether it will fruit for me. Since I am in good luck, why not grow it? It’s Dream and grow it isn’t it? :)
In order to induce branching, many gardeners do pruning of their valued Adeniums. Pruning itself intimidates many gardeners as can be a tricky issue where many things can get a bit too complicated to handle. So make sure you get all the details right before you actually start pruning! As many will know, Adeniums flower at the growing rosette of new leaves. Therefore, having more branches would mean more growing tips which will produce more flowers!And also, pruning make the Adeniums look more compact the leafy.
When you start pruning, make sure you use a sterilized scissors or shears. This will ensure that a diseased branch you pruned will spread over to the other plants. Make sure it is sharp too, sharp blades make cleaner cuts that heal faster. Make a straight cut to minimise the exposed area of the branch and at an appropriate height, not too low or it will hurt the plant and not too high which make the plant look very weird.
Depending on the growing conditions, Adenium plant will produce one or more (if you are lucky you can get even four!) new growths. You will see new leaves started to emerged and soon enough, you have a good looking Adenium. Don’t just throw away the cut branches, as they can be rooted to become new plants! However these cut branches will not have the large caudex the seed grown Adeniums have.