Root awakening

Porous medium for stem-cuttings of Lipstick Plant.
Porous medium for stem-cuttings of Lipstick Plant.PHOTOS: GRACE CHONG, LEE THOMAS, LI HWA LIM, MICHAEL SEE THOE KUM SING, WILSON WONG

Porous medium for stem-cuttings of Lipstick Plant

What plant is this and how do I care for it? It has thick, succulent leaves and light pink flowers. Can I propagate it using stem-cuttings?

Li Hwa Lim

This is a type of Lipstick Plant.It appears to be a cultivar known as Aeschynanthus "Thai Pink", which can be propagated via stem-cuttings. It is best to root the stem-cuttings in a well-drained medium to prevent them from rotting.

It should get at least four hours of filtered sunlight. The medium that it is grown in should be aerated and porous, though it should retain some moisture. This plant should not be allowed to dry out totally. It flowers occasionally in Singapore, often during the cooler period of the year.

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Right water balance for Desert Rose

The leaves of my Desert Rose plant (pictured below) turned yellow and started dropping. At one point, all the leaves on the plant dropped. I cut away the upper stem to allow the plant to regrow, but the new leaves also face the same problem. Why does this happen?

Michael See Thoe Kum Sing

Your Desert Rose plant could be suffering from either a lack of water or excessive water intake.

A lack of water is usually characterised by the plant's lower leaves first turning yellow and becoming dry before dropping.

Although the Desert Rose plant is drought-tolerant, it should be watered at least once daily. The soil should still be moist when you water again.

Excessive water in the root zone, on the other hand, will lead to yellowing leaves which fall off without drying. In this case, you may want to regulate the frequency of watering and pot it in a well- drained gritty mix. The excessive water will drain easily, allowing the root zone to dry out quickly.


Keeping pests away from cabbage

My cabbage (above) is being eaten by a pest. What is it and how do I get rid of it without using chemicals?

Grace Chong

Common chewing pests that can cause the damage seen in your picture are snails, slugs, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Snails and slugs tend to be active at night when the weather is wet. They hide in the day and need to be caught after dark. Snail and slug pellets may be used, but they become ineffective if wet. Also, pellets may not be suitable if you have children or pets, as they might ingest them accidentally.

Grasshoppers can be difficult to spot and control as they fly or hop away quickly. Caterpillars can be spotted by their round black droppings.

Avoid using chemical pesticides if you are going to eat the cabbage. However, catching these pests might be difficult. Putting up a physical barrier, such as a netting to prevent the pests from getting to the plants, may be the best way.


Ti plant needs direct sunlight for colour

The leaves of my Cordyline plant (above) are not red and rather thin. Why is this so? It is placed in an area where it does not get direct sunlight.

Lee Thomas

The lack of vibrant colours on your Ti plant - botanical name Cordyline fruticosa - is likely due to the lack of sunlight. Consider moving it to a location where it can get four to six hours of direct sunlight daily.

Although it is rather shade tolerant, the plant is best grown under brighter conditions to bring out the colour of its leaves. Once acclimatised, some Ti plant cultivars can grow under direct sunlight.


Tip: Philodendron for outdoor gardens

Philodendron melinonii (above) is a large growing Philodendron species for an outdoor garden or it can be displayed in a large ornate container. It has a rosette of spade- shaped leaves that makes for a visual focal point in a garden.

Like many common Philodendron species and cultivars, it is best grown where the plant can get four to six hours of filtered sunlight daily. Soil should be moist and well- drained.

•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 June 03, 2017, with the headline 'Root awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe