Root Awakening: Yellowing leaves may be sign of nutrient deficiency

The Bayam plant, also known as Chinese Spinach, is edible, though it is the young plants that are more palatable as leafy vegetables.
The Bayam plant, also known as Chinese Spinach, is edible, though it is the young plants that are more palatable as leafy vegetables. PHOTO: HSU LI REN

Bayam variety can be eaten

This plant is grown from seeds given out by the National Parks Board. What kind of plant is it - is it Bayam Spinach - and is it edible? The pictures of Bayam Spinach I have seen on the Internet do not have the flower-like "knobs" on the stems. Also, most pictures show red or rounded leaves, while this plant produces narrow and pointy leaves. Is it inedible and/or poisonous?

Hsu Li Ren

The plant is indeed the Bayam plant, also commonly known as Chinese Spinach. The structures at the leaf axils along the stem are where the flowers are produced. Seeds can be harvested eventually from them.

There are many cultivars of the Bayam which vary in terms of leaf shape, colour and size.

At the flowering stage, the leaves are often considered too tough for consumption.

You can harvest the seeds and grow new young plants, which are more palatable as a leafy vegetable for consumption.

Yellowing leaves may be due to a nutrient deficiency


Soil that is soggy or that is in the wrong pH range can lead to nutrient availability and uptake issues that manifest as nutrient deficiency in the leaves. PHOTO: AUDRE HOI

My plant seems to be deficient in something, but I do not know what. I am unable to get the leaves to darken and there are spots on the flowers.

Audre Hoi

The plant is known by a number of common names such as Walidda, Arctic Snow, Milky Way and Snowflakes. Its botanical name is Wrightia antidysenterica.

The issue that is affecting your plant could be soil that is soggy and not well drained, or the pH level may not be in the ideal range. These conditions can lead to nutrient availability and uptake issues that manifest as a nutrient deficiency seen in the leaves.

Check the soil pH value and ensure it is in the slightly acidic to neutral range of 5.5 to 7.0, which is preferred by most garden plants. Incorporate organic matter and gritty materials into the soil to promote better drainage of water.

As for spots on the flowers, they may be caused by a secondary infection by fungi or bacteria that have affected wounds left in the flowers. The flowers may have been injured after a heavy downpour and poor air circulation.

To reduce the likelihood of damaged flowers, provide a shelter to protect them from rain and grow the plants in a more open area.

Plants may have fungal disease, pests


The black spots on the lady's finger plant could indicate a fungal disease such as mildew, while the white spots on the brinjal plant may be caused by a rasping pest. PHOTOS: TIONG HOONG PING

The leaves of my lady finger's plant have black spots, while those of my brinjal have white spots. Both plants have been growing since August and are still not bearing flowers for pollination.

Tiong Hoong Ping

Your lady's finger plant is likely to be affected by a fungal disease, probably mildew. Prune the affected leaves and apply a fungicide to manage its spread.

It is recommended you follow the label's instructions in making the appropriate concentration to spray on the plant. Also, ensure that the withholding period is observed before harvesting fruit for consumption. Make sure you wash the fruit thoroughly before cooking and eating them.

As for your brinjal plant, the white dots may be caused by a rasping pest.

Without a picture, it can be difficult to identify the exact organism that is causing the damage. Check your plant regularly and closely.

Your plant looks a bit small, taking into account the duration it has been grown from seeds. Ensure it gets at least four hours of direct sunlight daily and fertilise it to promote more robust growth.

Plant is tick trefoil species


The Ohwia caudata is a type of tick trefoil that is a legume belonging to the bean family. PHOTO: JEFFREY LIM

We bought this leafy hardy plant from the market. The leaves seem downcast at night, but come alive the next morning. What is its name?

Jeffrey Lim

The plant is botanically known as Ohwia caudata and has no common names.

It is a type of Tick Trefoil that is sold in local nurseries as a medicinal plant. Its fruit have very fine hair on the surface, which can make them stick to clothing and be carried away to new sites.

It is a legume belonging to the bean family. Many species of plants in this family respond to light intensity.

Under dark conditions that are encountered late in the day, leaves of many legumes fold together. This can be seen in common streetscape trees like the Yellow Flame and Rain Tree in Singapore.

Ginger rhizome can be harvested about five months after planting


In general immature ginger can be harvested about five months after planting, while mature ginger rhizomes can be harvested after eight months or so. PHOTO: MEIKENG LIM

My ginger plant, which started with a grape-size knob of ginger, is about three months old and 60cm tall. When is the best time to harvest it? Also, what is the plant that has sprouted next to it?

Meikeng Lim

The more leafy shoots your ginger produces, the longer the underground rhizome will be.

In general, under ideal growing conditions, you can start to harvest immature ginger about five months after planting and eight months or so for mature ginger rhizomes.

The plant growing next to the ginger plant is often regarded as a weed. It is commonly known as Foxtail Copperleaf and its botanical name is Acalypha alopecuroidea. It produces a rather attractive green inflorescence.

• 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.

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