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Archive for March, 2009

Humidity, the apartment gardeners’ headache..

March 26, 2009 3 comments

Many questions were asked during my talk at Hortpark recently about humidity. Humidity, which is the amount of water content in the air, is an important growing condition for many plants, especially carnivorous plants. Although Singapore has a tropical climate with 70% humidity, the condition can fluctuate tremendously when windy.

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                                            Dried growing tip of Nepenthes Plant

Many of us here live in high rise apartments and grow plants in balconies or corridors. These places experience considerable amount of wind and humidity can be highly inconsistent. Humidity loving plants will start to stress out and drying of leaves began to occur.

IMG_0473 Being an apartment grower myself, I had tried various methods to overcome this problem. I cut out plastic panels from take-away boxes to stop the wind from blowing directly at my plants and also added a wet layer of dried sphagnum moss to prevent rapid loss of moisture in the potting media, maintaining a consistent humidity level throughout the day.

Misting, if done regularly, can help to maintain humidity too. I mist my Nepenthes plants as and when the top sphagnum moss feels dry. I also have a layer of clay pellets at the bottom tray which can hold considerable amount of moisture. Do aware that hanging pots will suffer the most when windy.

Some friends of mine grow bigger and taller plants which will effectively block the wind, but sunlight might be blocked too, so therefore more suitable if you are growing shade loving plants. Growing many plants and clustering them together will also helps to maintain humidity too. A single lone plant will lose water rapidly in windy conditions, so this might be a good excuse to get more plants!!

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      Plastic shield and sphagnum moss                       Drying out Cephalotus

Some plants like Nepenthes can be “trained” to adapt to lower humidity, therefore one can gradually remove the panels or plants around over a period of few weeks.

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Moonflower!

March 24, 2009 2 comments

Moonflower, or Moon Vine (Ipomoea alba) is a flowering vine related to the morning glory. The flowers are white in colour and of considerable size.  They can grow vines which are  of many metres long and ideal to grow on fences.

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Moonflowers are very fast growers. They can produce flowers on the 2nd month when the seeds are sowed. The flowers only open at night and will shed away by morning. The fruits will eventually developed and seeds can be harvested.

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                Emerging flower                                                  Developing fruit

They are relatively easy growers and can do very well in various growing conditions. Bright light to full sunlight and daily watering are basic conditions for these beautiful plants. They can be planted in pots too and you will need a climbing frame for them to twine.

Carnivorous Plants Talk at Hortpark!

March 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I delivered my first full scale gardening talk on growing carnivorous plants. I was very surprised to see that such a big crowd turn up at Fruit Room despite the gloomy weather! I did not have enough handouts for all and thankfully Shirley from NParks, helped to print more copies for me. Thanks Shirley!

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I was very glad that the audience there that day was a good mix of different ages. Over 70 people were there. It was very heartening to see children taking up gardening as their hobby and this really motivated me a lot. They are enthusiastic and inquisitive, asking me lots of questions and sharing their experiences with me!

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Many thanks to my friends, Wilson, Xuan Hong, Uncle Eng Ong, Sandy and Elgin, all from Green Culture Singapore who came down to support me. I was very touched to see my colleagues from my attachment company, Ai San and Alicia with friend Kareen, make time to take photos and attend my talk.

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During the talk, I introduced various carnivorous plants which are easy to grow, like the popular Venus Flytrap, beautiful Sundews and Nepenthes.  I have prepared my ebooks to give out as gifts. The audience was amazed and “wowed” at many of these exotic photos taken by Sandy and Cindy.

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Thanks for everyone’s support and hope to see you again in many subsequent gardening talks in the future!

Watering

March 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Watering is another important gardening task. Insufficient water will result in poor growth and eventually causing the plant to dry out. But that does not mean frequent waterings are needed! Overwatering may waterlog the potting media and root rot will set in.

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So what is the best way to water plants? Many gardeners I met will tell me they water their plants twice a day, or on alternate days and the plants are growing very well! But this is definitely not the best way, as some gardeners who followed the water regime have their plants either dead or stunned!

IMG_0219This is simply because different gardeners have different growing conditions. Some may experience strong winds and water evaporate faster or the different potting mix have varying water retention capabilities! In order to decide how frequent one should water, one have to assess their growing conditions. Strong sunlight and windy conditions will cause the soil to lose its moisture at a faster rate than those under shade or indoors.

Some gardeners even invest in sophisticated apparatus to measure moisture in the soil. I personally think that there is no need for such expensive investments as one can simply stick their finger into the media and feel the moisture! If the soil feels dry, it will be time to water the plants. This takes some practice and soon your plants will never face problems with watering!

Growing conditions can vary over different period of time, therefore a fixed water regime is not the ideal method. Knowing one’s growing conditions is still the most important skill to master!