A Gardening Special

Root Awakening

Seed-grown plant is an eggplant
Seed-grown plant is an eggplantPHOTO: TOMMY TAN
Desert rose may be suffering from transplant shock
Desert rose may be suffering from transplant shockPHOTO: KENNETH CHIEW

Seed-grown plant is an eggplant 

My seeds from the National Parks Board (NParks) have grown. The leaves and stem of the plant are hairy. The plant looks like those bought from markets but without the hair, and the flowers are yellow with seeds. I am not sure if the plant is edible. It looks more like it was cross-bred between the kailan and chye sim.

Tommy Tan 

The plant is an eggplant. Only the fruit of the eggplant should be eaten as the rest of the plant may be toxic.

In the NParks envelope of seeds you have received, there is one pack of seeds of a leafy vegetable and another pack consisting of fruited vegetable seeds, which have been labelled.

The latter may be the source of eggplant seeds.

You may want to check the packet of seeds you sowed.


Desert rose may be suffering from transplant shock 

The leaves of my five pots of adenium turned yellow within two days of repotting. What happened?

Kenneth Chiew

The yellowing of leaves of your desert rose (Adenium obesum hybrid) may be due to transplant shock.

When you repotted your plants, did you remove all the soil from the root ball?

If you did, the process will damage plant roots and this reduces the ability of the plant to uptake water. Leaves turn yellow as a result and may drop off eventually.

A newly transplanted plant should be placed in a slightly shaded and cool area for it to produce new roots.

Some growers remove a few leaves from their desert rose plants to reduce the loss of water.


Kailan may lack fertiliser, sunlight 

I have been growing kailan for a month. They do not seem to be growing. What am I not doing right? 

Chim Howe Lai 


PHOTO: CHIM HOWE LAI

The kailan seedlings look yellow - they may be lacking nutrients. If you are growing leafy vegetables from seeds, it is often necessary to apply fertiliser regularly to support the plant's rapid growth.

In this case, the plants would require a nitrogen-rich fertiliser. Leafy vegetables should be fed weekly with organic fertiliser such as processed chicken manure or bone and blood meal powder.

Ensure your seedlings are protected from rain as excessive rainfall can wash away soluble nitrogen-containing nutrients. Wet feet will also affect nutrient uptake via the roots.

The slower growth of leafy vegetable seedlings could also be due to the lack of sunlight.

It is important to ensure plants receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily and that they are not overcrowded.

Plants grown in a crowded environment compete for nutrients, water and sunlight.


Plant is likely a cultivar of the Japanese menthol mint

I have this plant. Is it a peppermint or spearmint?

Vivienne Lee


PHOTO: VIVIENNE LEE

The mint is neither a spearmint nor a peppermint. It is likely a cultivar of the Japanese menthol mint (Mentha arvensis var piperascens), which is characterised by a high menthol content in its leaves.

It is known locally as "icy mint" due to the sensory response towards the menthol found in the leaves.


• Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, an NParks-certified practising horticulturist, parks manager and ISA-certified arborist. He is the founder of Green Culture Singapore and an adjunct assistant professor (Food Science & Technology) at the National University of Singapore.

• 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. We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2020, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe