Root Awakening: Amaranthus species, fungal growth, papaya plant and more

Amaranthus species, and the emerging spike at the top of the plant is inflorescence. PHOTO: INGRID LIM

Plant is an Amaranthus species

This plant sprouted next to my pandan and grew to this size within weeks. It has a spiky shoot at the core. What is it?

Ingrid Lim

It is an Amaranthus species. The most commonly encountered are the varieties of Chinese spinach, also known as Bayam, which are cultivated and eaten as leafy vegetables. Did you sow the seeds of these vegetables before? One of them could have grown into this new plant.

It may also be the Amaranthus retroflexus, also known as Redroot Pigweed. This weedy species grows quite large and can come in flower pots from store-bought plants. The younger leaves are edible and more palatable.

The emerging spike at the top of the plant is inflorescence, which will eventually produce numerous seeds.

Flower is produced by a Passiflora species

The flower is likely produced by a plant commonly known as Yellow Water Lemon and Golden Bell Apple. PHOTO: LUCINDA LIM

I saw this beautiful purple flower while jogging along the Park Connector Network in Clementi Sunset Way. What is it and how can I grow it?

Lucinda Lim

The flower is likely produced by a plant botanically known as Passiflora laurifolia. The plant grows as a climber and is commonly known as Yellow Water Lemon and Golden Bell Apple.

The plant's fruitis egg-shaped and consumed fresh or made into beverages. There are many Passiflora hybrids and they can look similar to one another.

The plant is best grown under direct sunlight and with climbing support. It can be propagated from seeds or stem-cuttings. However, do not harvest the plant without first asking its owner for permission.

Fungal fruiting body no cause for concern

The mushroom is produced by saprophytic fungi, which usually disappear when organic matter in potting mixes has fully broken down. PHOTO: SANDY CHIA

My plant is growing quite well, but white mushroom-like growths have started appearing at the base of the stems. Are these any cause for concern? How do I stop them from growing?

Sandy Chia

The mushroom is usually not a cause for concern. It is produced by saprophytic fungi that grow in potting mixes rich in organic matter, such as composted wood chips.

Such fungi break down the organic matter that is used to make the potting mix. They usually disappear when the organic matter has been fully broken down.

There are no practical means to prevent them from growing. You can manually remove emerging fruiting body if it bothers you. Also, do not eat them.

Keeping the potting media dry may reduce fungal growth, but will also be detrimental to your plant.

Monstera cutting needs aerated potting mix and filtered light

This Monstera cutting can be potted in an aerated mix of pumice, coconut chucks and perlite. PHOTO: KEVIN WONG

I received a Monstera cutting with black root tips. I have since pruned and treated the roots with quarter-strength H2O2 for rot and quarter-strength fish emulsion fertiliser, as well as coloured papers with honey for thrips. Am I on the right track?

Wong Lian An Kevin

Your treatment for the roots is on the right track. Allow the ends to heal before planting them.

Gardeners use different techniques that are suited to plants' various growing conditions as well as the availability of materials for potting media.

You can pot the cutting in an aerated mix of pumice, coconut chucks and perlite. This mix will be porous yet moisture-retentive, which will help the cutting produce roots. Keep the mix moist, but not too wet, to prevent the spread of disease.

Do not bury the cutting too deeply. You may also want to prop it up with a stake to support it. Also, position the cutting in a bright, cool area with filtered sunlight to support new growth.

Check the cutting and your growing area for pests and take appropriate action if they appear.

Papaya plant needs bigger pot, direct light

The papaya plant needs a big pot, and also requires direct sunlight to thrive. PHOTO: PATSY TAN

This plant has been growing in my pot for some time. What is it?

Patsy Tan

The plant is a papaya sapling. Did you throw some seeds into the pot or use compost that had papaya kitchen waste in it? Birds may have also deposited the seeds into your pot via their droppings.

The papaya plant can grow quite large and needs a big pot. It also requires direct sunlight to thrive. If there are space constraints for you to grow it, consider donating it to a community garden or school garden.

  • 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.

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