Chili plant is grown in too small a pot
My chilli padi plants are dying. The leaves are drying up although I water them every day since planting them from seeds last January, and the leaves started to wilt about two weeks ago. I had been fertilising them every three to four weeks with chicken poo and flower bloom fertiliser. The soil is 50 per cent "bio-organic" compost, 25 per cent perlite and 25 per cent vermiculite.
Your chilli plant seems to be pot-bound - that is, the roots have filled the pot and the amount of moisture held by the growing medium is quickly taken up by the large plant. You may want to move it to a larger pot, where there will be more space for the growing medium to take up water for the plant. You may also need to water it more than once a day, depending on how hot and sunny it is. Your chilli plant can grow even bigger, depending on the size of the pot it is grown in.
Nerve plant may do better in an open area
I have a closed terrarium in my office, which has air-conditioning and overhead lighting. The larger leaves of the plant inside are always curled. Although there are new leaves sprouting, the growth is very slow. Why are the leaves curled? There is condensation on the side of the jar and I open it for about 20 minutes every month.
Not all plants are suited to sealed terrariums. Your Nerve Plant (Fittonia cultivar) will fare better in open terrariums or a dish garden. In a sealed terrarium, the lack of air circulation and heat build-up - which happens if there is artificial light overhead or it is placed near a sunlit window - can lead to stressed plants with leaf development issues.
The ceiling lights do not provide enough light for your plant to grow. Try using a desk lamp instead and placing it close to the plant - about 10cm to 20 cm, depending on the intensity - to support plant growth.
Check for root issues, ensure plant is adequately watered
Why are the leaves of my plant browning?
Your plant is likely a Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus), which is a common bonsai candidate.
The browning leaves may be due to a root issue or a problem with the plant's ability to take up water. It looks like the roots have completely filled the pot, meaning that water is taken up quickly. This can happen very fast on hot and sunny days. When water is lacking, it can cause the plant to eventually wilt.
You may want to move the plant to a larger pot, water it more often and provide it with some shade on hot days.
Also, consider taking the plant out from its pot carefully to check the health of the roots. Healthy roots should appear firm and white, while dying or diseased roots will be dark and mushy. Diseased roots prevent plants from taking up water and must be trimmed away, and the plant must be repotted in fresh soil afterwards.
Place the plant in a cool, shady spot to recuperate. You can return it to its original growing location under the sun once new roots and leaves have formed.
Millipedes may multiply with fresh laid wood-based mulch
After landscaping works were completed at a nearby condominium, many caterpillar-like worms have appeared in surrounding areas, including my garden. Every day, there are worms crawling over the walls and there seems to be a nest somewhere. How can I get rid of the pests?
The pests in the picture are millipedes. They are decomposers that break down plant waste. It may be that the landscaping works involved the use of wood-based mulch to lay on the newly landscaped areas. Partially decomposed wood mulch serves as food for millipedes and might have caused the surge in their population.
You can try using chemical pesticides, but these may not fully eradicate the pests. Their population should decrease over time once the wood waste mulch has completely broken down.
When you or your neighbours are landscaping, it is best to use mature, high-quality compost or finely chipped dried leaves to avoid issues with such pests.
Constantly moist soil might have caused yellowing leaf edges
What is causing the discolouration of my Monstera deliciosa?
I bought it a couple of months ago and it has produced new leaves, but they eventually yellow at the edges.
Are you keeping your Monstera plant's growing mix moist and in the shade? In a shady location, moisture in growing media will take longer to evaporate. Constant wet feet may have caused the yellow edge in your plant's leaves.
Most plants benefit from periodic drying and wetting of the root zone so oxygen in the air can reach the roots. Let the root zone dry out slightly before watering it again.
Also, the Monstera, although regarded as a shade-tolerant plant, grows best in a location with filtered sunlight and good air circulation.
- 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 email@example.com. We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.
- Sign up for free gardening talks by Dr Wilson Wong on Saturday, Jan 22: Grow Your Own Lady's Fingers (2 to 2.45pm, register here), Online Gardening Q&A For Jan 2022 (3 to 3.45pm, register here) and Create Your Own Decorative Table Displays For Lunar New Year (4 to 4.45pm, register here).