Root Awakening: Swiss Cheese Plant, 'Mickey Mouse Taro' and more

A Swiss cheese plant (left) and Marvel Of Peru plant. PHOTOS: WEILIANG LIM, CHUA CHENG HWEE

Swiss cheese plant has matured

This huge climbing plant has been growing in my garden for years without much care given. What is it?

Weiliang Lim

The plant is botanically known as Monstera deliciosa and its common name is Swiss Cheese Plant. Having matured, it is producing large, attractive leaves typical of the species. It can climb and grow along a vertical support, and serves as a visual focal point in a garden.

Marvel of peru is an attractive flowering plant

I have grown this plant from seeds and it is now about 70cm tall. What is its name and will it continue to flower?

Chua Cheng Hwee

This plant is commonly known as Marvel Of Peru or the Four O'Clock Plant. Its botanical name is Mirabilis jalapa. Several colours are available and the plants are quite floriferous, making them attractive flowering candidates for a garden.

The plant's scented, trumpet-shaped flowers open in the late afternoon and close the next morning, hence its common name.

Citrus seedlings need more space and light

If possible, make sure citrus seedlings get at least six hours of light a day. PHOTO: LU CHEE CHOON

My plants are not growing though a month has passed. I water them twice a week, fertilise them with organic chicken manure-based fertiliser once a week, and they get two to three hours of afternoon sun a day. What is wrong?

Lu Chee Choon

It appears that you are growing some citrus seedlings. Their slow growth can be attributed to several factors.

First, they need a lot of light to thrive. Two to three hours of direct sunlight may not be sufficient. If possible, make sure they get at least six hours of light a day.

Next, check that the growing media is loose, aerated and not too moist. Soil that is too heavy or retains too much moisture can prevent plants from producing a healthy root system and absorbing nutrients.

Your current growing media is largely organic matter-based - try incorporating some gritty material such as fine expanded clay pellets or pumice.

You may also want to separate the plants and give each of them more space to grow, as the current conditions seem crowded.

Finally, as the plants grow, feed them with fertiliser that contains other essential nutrients. Chicken manure is rich in nitrogen, but does not have many of the other nutrients needed for your plants to thrive.

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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