Root Awakening

A banana plant's pseudostem flowers and fruits once and dies after the fruit is harvested. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS


I am puzzled why the mother banana tree withers and dies when smaller plants grow at the base or develop into suckers. On advice from a friend, I removed the smaller plants, but the mother tree still died. Why is this so?

Ken Lai

Each pseudostem of the banana plant flowers and fruits once and dies after you harvest the fruit.

The plant continues to grow via the production of new suckers that rise from the base of the mother plant.

These can be left to grow after the fruiting stem or removed and grown elsewhere.



I have had this ZZ plant for about 15 years. About three years ago, it produced a flower which died very fast, in three to four days. Recently, I found a similar "flower". Is it a real bloom? What kind of conditions does the plant need for it to thrive and flower?

Angeline Pang

Your ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is producing a special structure called an inflorescence, where the central rod-like spadix is the part that holds numerous small flowers.

This plant seldom flowers and, from my past observations of plants grown by other gardeners, it appears that it flowers only when it is severely pot-bound.

Your ZZ plant appears to be pot-bound, where the roots have all filled the pot. The flowering may be a response to the stress that it is experiencing in a very confined situation. The plant may not have as many leaves as before. It is recommended you move the plant to a larger pot for it to grow.



My cucumber seeds grew well and developed into what appeared to be healthy plants. I built trellises for them to climb. I had four plump cucumbers (from about 12 seeds/plants growing on the trellis). However, all subsequent fruit grew to only about 1.5cm, then shrivelled up and turned into thin dried-up brown "sticks". Other than these four plump cucumbers, the rest ended up as dead "sticks". How can I not lose more cucumbers? The plants are well-watered and get at least three to four hours of afternoon sun every day.

Gan Boey Keow

The lack of fruit production in your cucumber plant is likely due to poor pollination.

If your garden is outdoors, you may want to provide a more conducive environment to attract bees, which are pollinators of your cucumber flowers. This involves planting more nectar-rich plants and reducing the use of harmful chemical pesticides.

In the meantime, you may want to perform hand pollination.

Use a paintbrush to take some pollen from the centre of a freshly opened male flower. A male flower does not have a "baby" fruit (ovary) behind the petals.

Then, transfer the pollen on the paintbrush to the centre of a freshly opened female flower. The female flower has a small fruit behind its whorl of petals.



My eggplant does not seem to be growing leaves on the bottom of the stem. What is the cause and how can I promote leaf growth at the bottom portion of the stem?

Bryan Tan

It is not unusual for the eggplant to grow taller and eventually shed its lower leaves.

To prevent this from happening prematurely, it is recommended you grow the plant in a larger pot that will provide more root space and resources required for it to thrive.

The lack of water and an overly restricted root space will cause lower leaves to wilt and drop off, leading to a very lanky plant.

In your case, you may want to cut the top of your plant to encourage branching to get a bushier growth habit.

You may want to also look for dwarf varieties to grow - these take up less space and have a more compact growth habit, which may be more appealing visually.

• 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 We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.

Facebook Live session

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