Root Awakening: Pumpkin plant bears male and female flowers on same vine

Pumpkin vine (left) and Everfresh Tree. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SERENE LIM,PETER GWEE

Vine is the pumpkin plant

A vine has sprouted from a oot with other plants. It has small bright yellow flowers. What plant is it and will it bear edible fruit?

Serene Lim

The plant is the pumpkin vine. It bears male and female flowers on the same vine. The female flowers have small fruit-like structures located behind the petals. If pollinators are absent, you need to do hand pollination to promote fruit production.

You may also need to lift the developing fruit from the ground to prevent it from being damaged by snails and slugs.

Potted plant is the Everfresh Tree

I have been given this plant recently. It is in a small pot and has grown to more than 2m tall, but it feels flimsy. A smaller plant has also started to grow. What is the name of the plant and how do I take care of it? Can i repot it too?

Peter Gwee

The plant is likely the Everfresh Tree (Pithecellobium confertum), which is currently on trend. It can grow relatively fast and tall, but can be constrained within a pot.

However, a pot-bound tree will require you to water it more often so that it does not dry out excessively. A plant that is allowed to dry out will lose its leaflets, which can then be unsightly.

Although the plant can tolerate some degree of shade, it does better if given ample sunlight to thrive.

Papaya plant may be affected by disease

Papaya plant may have been affected by disease. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMRI BADI

This papaya tree grew very well until about two weeks ago, when its leaves started to turn yellow. What is wrong with it?

Samri Badi

Your papaya plant may have been killed by a disease. The culprit could be several causative agents, and a closer examination of the symptoms is required to determine the cause.

At this stage, there is nothing you can do except to remove the plant.

Avoid growing papaya in the same spot to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease. Try to find a well-drained spot to grow papaya plants – they hate wet feet and are susceptible to disease during wet weather.

Curry tree has been infested by scale insects

Brown blisters on the stem of curry leaf plant could be scale insects. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FONG KAH WAI

There are small brown blisters on the stem of my curry leaf plant. How can I get rid of them?

Fong Kah Wai

The brown bumps are likely scale insects, which are sap-sucking pests commonly found on woody perennial plants.

You can use a soft toothbrush to remove these pests. After that, apply summer oil insecticide all over the plant to suffocate remaining pests. Several rounds of summer oil application will need to be performed on a regular basis to provide some control.

Make it a habit to inspect plants regularly for pest infestations and take action early and promptly.

Wilting is a sign of lack of water

Bougainvillea needs a bigger pot and growing media with compost to retain moisture. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PAMELIN HO

A week after I bought this plant, a lot of the flowers dropped and the plant is looking limpy. What is wrong with it? It gets full afternoon sun and I water it daily.

Pamelin Ho

Your bougainvillea is grown in a rather small pot and has lots of foliage.

When grown in a high-rise environment that is windy and sunny, a leafy plant will lose moisture quickly. When this happens, the plant will wilt as a result. You may need to water the plant more than once daily to meet its water needs.

Also, consider getting a bigger pot and ensure that the growing media has organic matter, such as compost, to help retain more moisture for the plant.

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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