Root Awakening: Larger specimens of Green Aralia bloom more often

Osmoxylon lineare
Osmoxylon linearePHOTOS: CHONG MOI THYE, CHRISTINA CHIANG, LINDA GIAM, WILSON WONG,
Epiphyllum Plant
Epiphyllum PlantPHOTOS: CHONG MOI THYE, CHRISTINA CHIANG, LINDA GIAM, WILSON WONG,
Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi
Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobiPHOTOS: CHONG MOI THYE, CHRISTINA CHIANG, LINDA GIAM, WILSON WONG,
Adenium obesum
Adenium obesumPHOTOS: CHONG MOI THYE, CHRISTINA CHIANG, LINDA GIAM, WILSON WONG,

Larger specimens of Green Aralia bloom more often

I saw this plant (pictured), which had a blooming cluster of flowers, along a boardwalk in Changi.

What is it known as and does it bloom often?

Linda Giam

The plant is botanically known as Osmoxylon lineare. It is also commonly known as Green Aralia and Miagos Bush.

Larger and more mature specimens are known to flower more often. When grown as a hedge for landscaping, the plant is frequently pruned to the desired height and shape. As a result, the flowers of this plant may not be seen that often here.

In Singapore, there is another variety that has variegated leaves, which are golden yellow when grown in full sun.


Tip: Make necklaces from fruit of Job's Tears

The Job's Tears plant is a member of the Grass family (Poaceae). It is also called Coixseed or botanically known as Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi.

This plant produces fruits which have hard shells and come in colours such as brown, white and black. The fruits have a small hole, which can be threaded through with a fine needle to make rosaries and necklaces.

You can grow it by sowing the mature fruit or by division. It thrives when grown in a sunny area outdoors and needs moist and fertile soil.


Keep Queen of the Night from the rain

How do I get rid of these pests growing on the leaf?

Christina Chiang

The raised spots on your Epiphyllum plant - its common name is Queen of the Night or Keng Huay in Hokkien - are corky scabs that are a cosmetic blemish. The plant is not infected.

The scabs could have been caused by pests or excessive watering.

Try watering the plant less often and move it to a sheltered area when it rains.


Desert Rose needs direct sunlight
 

When I bought this plant, it had flowering buds.

Some have since turned black and fallen off. Why did this happen?

Chong Moi Thye

The plant you have is a Desert Rose. Its botanical name is Adenium obesum. When flower buds drop, it is a common sign that the plant is stressed. This could be brought on by a sudden change in the growing environment, such as when it was moved from the production nursery to your garden.

The plant needs to be grown under direct sunlight for a large part of the day. Also, ensure that the plant does not dry out completely. Although it is drought-tolerant, the roots should be kept slightly moist to prevent root damage.


Keep beetles at bay with fine netting

Pests are attacking the plants in my garden. Small, brown beetles eat the leaves and flowers when they invade the garden after 9pm.

I also found millipedes in the soil. They ate the plants' roots, causing them to die. Leaves of three of my basil plants dropped suddenly.

How do I get rid of these pests?

I sprayed an insecticide, but it did not work.

Mary Lim

The best way to prevent beetles from eating your edible plants is to create a physical barrier that stops them from entering the garden. You can make a tent out of fine netting to cover your plants.

Insecticide should not be used on edible plants. Instead, you can apply a suitable chemical pesticide such as cypermethrin.

Follow the label's instructions strictly when using chemical pesticides and observe the withholding period. This is the minimum period of time that must elapse between the last application of the pesticide and when the plants can be eaten.

If you are using contact pesticides, it may be necessary to reapply it after it rains, as it will be washed off.

For millipedes, it is vital to use quality compost that has composted sufficiently. It has been reported that well-composted organic matter with lower carbon content will reduce the rate of a millipede infestation.

Place new compost in a corner of the garden for about two months, so that it can decompose more, before using it in the vegetable garden.

•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 December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe