Root Awakening

Roselle plants need sun to thrive and other green tips

Tropical pumpkin plant

I found a creeper plant in our garden. What is it?

Grace Chow


Tropical pumpkin plant. PHOTOS: GRACE CHOW, RAYANN NG, WESLEY D’ARANJO, COLIN TING, DR WILSON WONG

The plant in the picture is the pumpkin plant (its botanical name is Cucurbita moschata). Cultivars of this particular type of pumpkin are generally more suitable for growing in Singapore as they are more tolerant of the hot and humid weather compared with cultivars of Cucurbita maxima, which are often carved during Halloween, or Cucurbita pepo such as zucchinis.


Singapore Daisy used as groundcover plants

What are these plants? I have had them for five months and they grew out of the blue. One has long leaves and the other round leaves.

Rayann Ng


Singapore Daisy used as groundcover plants. 

The plant with long leaves appears to be the Singapore Daisy, which is botanically known as Sphagneticola trilobata (it is also known as Wedelia trilobata). It is a common groundcover plant that is used in local landscapes.

It produces small yellow flowers that look like miniature sunflowers.

The other seedling that produces round leaves could be that of a lime or orange, which grew from seeds that were probably planted or discarded in the same flower pot.


Plant burns your throat if eaten

What is this plant?

Wesley D'aranjo


Plant burns your throat if eaten.

The vine, with beautiful pink fruits, is botanically known as Cayratia mollissima. It does not have a common English name.

Its fruits are apparently inedible. Those who have tried to eat it say they experienced a burning sensation in the throat for some time.


Insufficient sunlight causes floppy leaves

I have been growing this plant over the past year. I notice that some leaves grow differently than what I usually see.

Some leaves droop while others curl inwards. How can I tell if the leaves are dying?

Colin Ting


Insufficient sunlight causes floppy leaves.

The plant appears to be the Roselle plant. Botanically known as Hibiscus sabdariffa, it is a common shrub that is grown for its fleshy calyces.

The calyces are harvested and boiled either in its fresh or dried form to yield a red-coloured, sourish beverage that is touted as the tropical Ribena drink.

Note that it is a sun-loving plant and grows best in a location with direct sunlight.

The floppy leaves and the elongated, or etiolated, appearance of the plant you have is probably due to the lack of sufficient sunlight that the plant demands for robust and healthy growth.

For cupped-shaped leaves, you may want to check the undersides for sucking insects such as aphids or mealy bugs.

Sucking pests are prevalent in plants that are not grown in optimal conditions.


Tip: White Candles thrive in moist soil


Tip: White Candles thrive in moist soil.

Commonly known as White Candles, this shrub produces showy, erect inflorescences of white flowers, which are held well above the plant's dark green shiny foliage.

A member of the Acanthaceae family, White Candles' botanical name is Whitfieldia elongata and originates from tropical Africa. It grows best in moist and fertile soil and thrives under semi-shade outdoors.

It is one of the few shrubs that will flower under shadier conditions and is easily propagated via stem-cuttings.


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 09, 2016, with the headline 'Home and Garden: Tropical pumpkin plant'. Print Edition | Subscribe