Root Awakening: Blood Lily, Spider Lily are flowering plants

Both the blood lily (left) and spider lily are toxic, so keep them out of reach of children and pets. PHOTOS: CHUA CHUU SUH

Blood lily, spider lily are flowering plants

My two plants look like a giant spider lily and blood lily. How can I get them to flower? Are the bulbs poisonous?

Chua Chuu Suh

The plant with the red spherical inflorescence is botanically known as Scadoxus multiflorus. Its common names include Blood Lily, Powderpuff Lily and Fireball Lily. It grows best in a pot placed under filtered sunlight with well-drained soil. This plant is deciduous, meaning it can shed seasonally and enter a dormant period, after which new leaves and flowers may follow. Do not overwater the dormant plant as it may cause the bulb to rot underground.

The plant with the white flowers is a Crinum species or hybrid. It is commonly called Swamp Lily or Spider Lily.

It is usually a perennial in the tropics and free-flowering when fed regularly with fertiliser. It thrives under direct sunlight and well-drained soil, although it can tolerate wet feet to an extent. Its leaves are frequently attacked by caterpillars, so you may need to apply a preventive pesticide to limit damage.

Both plants are toxic, so keep them out of reach of children and pets. You can separate them with a simple perimeter fence.

White bird of paradise needs more direct light

The White Bird of Paradise is usually grown outdoors, where it gets direct sunlight for the better part of the day. PHOTO: RAYMOND YEO

The leaves of my White Bird of Paradise look parched. My airwell has full-day sun only between noon and 1pm. How can I get my plant to bloom?

Raymond Yeo

Your White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) looks like it is etiolated - that is, the new leaves appear to have elongated stalks. This is a sign the plant is not receiving enough sunlight.

This plant is usually grown outdoors, where it gets direct sunlight for the better part of the day. Such light conditions are required to maintain its growth form. It is also preferably grown in the ground, as the plant needs more root space to flourish.

Your plant is still young. Larger specimens - usually those from 2m to 2.5m tall with a longer main stem - are the ones that produce flowers.

Some of the leaves also look burnt. This may be due to sunburn, especially if your plant has been growing in a shaded area and moved to higher light levels. Such a move needs to be done gradually so that the plant can acclimatise to the new conditions. Leaves produced under lower light conditions are thinner and more prone to damage.

ZZ plant needs filtered light

A pot-bound ZZ plant can be difficult to repot or remove, so move it before it gets too big for its current pot. PHOTO: LIM TENG CHENG

I bought my ZZ plant a few months ago and put it in a new pot, which I placed indoors below the window in the living room. However, no new leaves are growing. What is the problem?

Lim Teng Cheng

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is a highly shade-tolerant foliage plant, but that does not mean it can be grown in deep shade. Make sure your plant gets at least six hours a day of filtered sunlight, which casts a fuzzy shadow behind an object.

Also, your plant's pot looks small. You may want to move the plant into one that is twice the size. A pot-bound ZZ plant can be difficult to repot or remove, so move it before it gets too big for its current pot.

Natal Plum produces edible fruit

The Natal Plum's fruit can be eaten raw or made into jams and jellies. PHOTO: EUGENE LEE

What is this plant and are its fruit edible?

Eugene Lee

The shrub is botanically known as Carissa macrocarpa and its common name is Natal Plum. Its green fruit turn dark red and become tender to the touch as they mature and ripen. At that stage, the fruit can be harvested for consumption. They can be eaten raw or made into jams and jellies.

Zebra calathea thrives in humid spots

Indoor conditions can be low in humidity and sometimes windy, which can dry the the Zebra Calathea out. PHOTO: JOANA LEE

I bought this plant two months ago and water it about three times a week. The leaves curl up even after watering. The plant is placed near the window with filtered morning sunlight, as I was told that it is an indoor plant. How can I keep my plant healthy?

Joana Lee

Your plant is commonly called the Zebra Calathea. Its botanical name is Goeppertia zebrina. The species is one of the most difficult to grow in its genus, as it requires specific growing conditions. The plant has thin leaves and grows best in a humid location with filtered light. Overly dry conditions can cause the leaves to curl up.

Indoor conditions can be low in humidity and sometimes windy, which can dry the plant out. This plant will grow best in a shady, protected outdoor location with dense vegetation. For an indoor garden, try placing it near other foliage plants, which can create a humid microclimate for the plant to thrive. Ensure it still gets enough sunlight to grow.

  • 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.
  • Join Dr Wong at two free online talks: Growing Media Basics For Edible Gardens (April 23, 2 to 2.45pm, register here) and Gardening Q&A (April 23, 3 to 3.45pm, register here). Registration is required for both talks.

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