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!