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Archive for September, 2008

Miniature Sinningias

September 28, 2008 Leave a comment

I received a miniature sinningia, ‘Little Wood Nymph’, from a member in March. They are miniature because they reach a mature size with only 3 inches across! One of the smallest flowering houseplant in the world, they come in hundreds of variants and hybrids. The flowers are elongated and gradually open up like a trumpet.

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Like African Violets, their leaves are hairy and also bear some darker stripes. The leaves grow in a rosette from the tuber under the ground. They are also extremely hardy! They can withstand drought conditions or flooded conditions for days, so I called them “never-say-die” plants!

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My ‘Little Wood Nymph’ only started flowering a few weeks ago. Perhaps they only grow flowers when they are root bound, meaning their roots are bounded within their pots. Bigger pots mean it will prefer to grow roots and leaves instead of flowering. When I first got the plant, I repot it from its 2-inch pot to a 4-inch pot and they grew a lot of leaves over the past 6 months! They are now around 3-inch wide and producing big leaves.

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They are easy to take care and not fussy with their growing conditions. Partial sunlight or bright light and daily watering are good enough for them. Even when you see them shedding all their leaves and left with stumps, don’t think they are dead! They are acclimatising to the environment and will regrow within a few days.

Unfortunately, these plants are “collectors’ edition” as they are not available in any local nurseries. If you are keen to get one of these beautiful plants, you can order them from overseas nurseries.

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Flowering Tree

September 26, 2008 Leave a comment

There was a small “monsoon” period here in Singapore two weeks ago.  The weather was very extreme, heavy rain in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. The temperature difference between these periods was very wide! Many of my plants were “sulking” due to the lack of light and irregular watering.

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Although my plants did not like the weather, but some trees along the road and in my carpark started to flower! Syzygium campanulatum, a common roadside tree which its young leaves have a red and yellow colouration.

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Their flowers were small and clustered together to form a hemispherical shape. They were white in colour and the petals were fine like needles. They also gave out a pleasant smell. Flowers were formed over the entire tree and from far, you could see the tree was covered with “snow”!

The flower lasted for about five days and started to turn brown. I have yet found any fruits on the tree and was wondering how the fruits will look like.

Categories: On the Streets Tags: , ,

Starting out with carnivorous plants

September 25, 2008 2 comments

I have been receiving emails from enthusiasts who wish to start growing carnivorous plants. So I should share some tips and things to look out for today. Back to my forte, carnivorous plants!

In order to grow them well, understanding their growing habits and characteristics are extremely important. They are not any flowering plants or shrubs you see in the nurseries. Instead they are a special group of plant, and they exhibit quantum difference between other common household plants.

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Most carnivorous plants grow in nutrient-deficient, and very bright habitats. Marshes and bogs with little trees and very wet soil are great habitats for carnivorous plants like Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Musicupula), temperate pitcher plants (Sarracenia) and also Sundews (Drosera). Other plants like tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes) and butterwort (Pinguicula) are found naturally in tropical rainforest where humidity is high and shady under the canopy.

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By mimicking their natural habitats, one can grow these special plants very well. Giving them a  wet nutrient-free potting media, high humidity and  the correct amount of sunlight, they will flourish under one’s care!

It is helpful if one read up their habitats and growing environments before buying and growing them. Planning where to put them, watering intervals and necessary potting media will ensure the highest chance of survival.

Common mistakes many make are using the wrong media and fertilising them. These actions will not only give these plants a lot of stress, and may eventually kill them. Although some species have less effects, but they will don’t do well in these “foreign” growing conditions.

You can read up more about different growing advice on different species of carnivorous plants in my previous blog : Horror Botanics. Growing carnivorous plants can be very exciting!

Orchid Blooms

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

It is always fascinating to see orchids blooming. Their flowers are very striking and colourful! They come in all sorts of colours from elegant white to furious red and yellow. But most orchids do not bloom all year round, they only bloom during a certain period where the conditions are just right. When they are not blooming, they grow leaves and roots, therefore this period is also known as photo period.

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Personally, my family and I enjoy orchid flowers. So I only have a small collection of orchids which will bloom all year round, or at least most of the time. Dendrobium orchids are orchids with short photo period and long flowering period. Their flowers are of medium size and you can find these flowers in almost every florist in Singapore.

They are relatively easy to grow as they are very hardy and forgiving. Dendrobiums develop pseudobulbs, which are stem-like structures where the leaves grow in alternate directions. A mature Dendrobium can grow to a height of 50cm.

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I also own other species of orchids like the Renthera Singaporeanis. They are sun-loving plants and they can grow more than a metre tall. Although they have smaller flowers, but their flower spikes will bear more than twenty flowers! They don’t bloom as often as Dendrobiums but their flowers last for a longer time.

My colleagues also gave me a Phalaenopsis orchid, which is commonly known as ‘Moth Orchid’. They bloom annually, when the temperature is low and humid, which is extremely hard in SIngapore climate. After 3 years, my Phalaenopsis did not bloom for me at all. They are best grown in air conditioned rooms like orchids or cool room, where the temperature is ideal for them.

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Phalaenopsis blooms are magnificent! They have a pair of enlarged petals on the sides which resemble the wings the moth. Their flowers are huge and can class for a long time! What a sight to behold, but getting them to bloom in our climate is not an easy task.

Some orchid species are very rare and expensive. If you like to try growing orchids, get some easy ones like Dendrobiums. They will flower regularly when they acclimatised themselves to the growing conditions. They will grow more roots and leaves when you first bought it. When they start to flower, don’t turn the orchid around! The flowers grow towards the sunlight, turning them will make their blooms look messy.

Categories: Dendrobiums, Orchids, Renthera

A Community Garden…

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

In the recent years, more and more residents in my area began to start gardening. I could see more and more plants were placed along the corridors at almost every floor!

There is even an unofficial community garden just below my block. Although I did not see who is in charge of that garden, but the area is very well maintained. You can see rows of planting beds, fruit trees and vegetables.

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It was converted into a garden after the planted shrubs and trees dried up and the area looks barren and a big eyesore. But now, the garden is attracting lots of attention. There is a nearby primary school and during the dismissal time, parents and students will walk past the garden and many of them would stop and look at the garden. Parents took the opportunity to introduce these vegetables and fruit trees to their children.

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A wide variety of edible and medicinal plants are grown in the garden. There are cabbage, spinach, guava trees, papaya trees, mint, Indian borage and even ginger!

 

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There are also benches in the garden and in night time the garden is lit up by a couple of lamps, I could see couples chatting in the garden! What a small romantic place in the estate!

My Carnivorous Plant Collection

September 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Welcome to my new blog. As I am venturing into growing other species of plant, it is more appropriate to switch to a new blog where I can share my experience with other plants.

Here are some updates of my carnivorous plant collections.

Currently, I am still keeping some carnivorous plants like sundews, tropical pitcher plants and byblis. Most of them are mature plants and they are doing alright.

My tropical pitcher plant, Nepenthes Ampullaria ‘Harlequin’ is pitchering again!! After a long dreadful wait, the latest leaf on the main vine is pitchering. The other leaves either had their tendrils dried up, or snapped off mysteriously…

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                            Pitchering!!                                                         Mature pitchers

My newly acquired pitcher plant, Nepenthes ‘Gardentech’, a hybrid between N.Ampullaria ‘Cantley’s Red’ and N.Ventricosa ‘red’. It bears beautiful burgundy red pitchers! But mine is still a very young plant and therefore, we need to wait and see!

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                                                             Very young N.Gardentech

My sundews are very healthy! Those Drosera Burmannii flower every now and then, I need to trim them off almost every 2 to 3 days to prevent them from exhaustion. Instead of growing bigger and wider, they are growing taller!! Their dried leaves stacked upon each other and as they layer, they grow taller!

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                                                                    Drosera Burmannii

Byblis Liniflora, another species of carnivorous plants, have the same sticky dew on hairs to catch their prey. They are closely related to sundews, but their tendrils are passive, unlike sundews, Byblis’ tendrils do not wrap around its prey. 10 seedlings were given to me from Cindy, an expert in carnivorous plant, at a reasonable price. They grow fast and they look like small Christmas trees!! When they grow up, it is just in time for Christmas!

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                                                                    Byblis Liniflora

Check out my blog soon. I will be touching on growing carnivorous plants for beginners and sharing some of my orchids and veggies!