Root awakening: Well-drained soil and direct sunlight for petunia

The petunia
The petuniaPHOTO: NG WAN CHENG
The variegated Long Leaf Fig
The variegated Long Leaf FigPHOTO: WILSON WONG

Well-drained soil and direct sunlight for petunia

I bought this plant recently. How do I grow and propagate it?

Ng Wan Cheng

The petunia - its botanical name is Petunia hybrida - prefers to be grown in moist and well-drained soil. Waterlogged soil can cause the plant to be infected by various diseases, and lead to its death.

It is a sun-loving plant and should be exposed to at least six hours of direct sunlight a day.

To ensure a bushy growth, wilted flowers should be promptly pruned and growth tips cut or removed to encourage the plant to branch out.

This plant can be propagated via stem-cuttings. Tip cuttings can be taken and rooted in a well-drained mix.


Tip: Long Leaf Fig an auspicious plant with its gold leaves

The variegated Long Leaf Fig - its botanical name is Ficus maclellandii "Amstel Gold" - is an uncommon fig tree species that has narrow, willow-like leaves and a dense crown with droopy branches.

It can be grown in containers in an apartment or in the ground outdoors. The gold leaves make the plant an auspicious display piece for Chinese New Year, but it can also last well beyond the festive period.

This versatile Long Leaf Fig can be used as a specimen plant or included as part of a display with other plants. It is more shade-tolerant than many other commonly available fig tree species that are sold as house plants.

Grow it in moist, well-drained soil and give it at least six hours of direct or filtered sunlight daily.



PHOTO: CHOW MUN ZING

Plant Pachira aquatica in a pot to manage growth

I bought this plant (pictured) during Chinese New Year. How do I care for it?

Chow Mun Zing

The plant is botanically known as Pachira aquatica. It is also known by more common names such as Guiana Chestnut and Provision Tree.

It can grow into a large tree if it is planted in the ground. Growing it in a pot helps restrict its growth and keeps it small. This plant prefers to be grown under direct sunlight, although it can tolerate a semi- shaded area too.

When grown in a pot, the plant should be watered regularly and the soil should be well-drained. Prune it periodically to manage its growth.



PHOTO: NAZRUNISHA SAMSUDEEN

Move basil to bigger pot for better growth

The leaves of my basil plant (pictured) keep dropping and its stems dry easily. Why does this happen?

Nazrunisha Samsudeen

Your plant appears to be suffering from being cramped in an overly small pot as well as a lack of sunlight.

Basil plants and their roots grow fast. You may want to move the plant into a larger pot. The soil should be fertile, moist and well-drained.

This plant grows best when left in a sunny spot, where it can be exposed to four to six hours of direct sunlight daily.

The lack of sunlight can lead to spindly growth and the plant can become prone to pests and diseases.

You should periodically prune the basil plant so that new growth can occur. This also encourages a bushy growth habit.



PHOTO: ANNIE GOH

Epiphyllum pumilum's flowers stay open longer

What is this plant (pictured)?

Annie Goh

This plant is botanically known as Epiphyllum pumilum. Its fruits are oval and bright pink. It is related to the common "Keng Huay" plant, which is also known as Queen Of The Night or Epiphyllum oxypetalum, its botanical name.

The Epiphyllum pumilum is an epiphytic cactus that likes to grow in a moist and well-drained growing mix. It should be exposed to filtered sunlight for at least four hours a day.

Unlike the Queen Of The Night, whose flowers often fade by dawn, the flowers of this species open at night and last well into the next day.

•Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore (www.greenculturesg.com). He is also an NParks-certified park manager.

•Have a gardening query? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to stlife@sph.com.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe