Root awakening: Grow Grass Orchid in a sunny spot

Grass Orchid PHOTO: Y.W. KONG
Blue Butterfly Bush PHOTO: WILSON WONG

Grow Grass Orchid in a sunny spot

This plant, which I found discarded, has small flowers that look like orchids. What is it and how do I care for it?

Y.W. Kong

The plant is an orchid botanically known as Eulophia graminea. It has common names such as Grass Orchid and Bawang Hantu. Often, it sprouts from new soil that has been brought in to fill development sites.

The plant is a terrestrial orchid species and prefers to grow in a sunny location with direct sunlight. At home, you can grow it in a pot with well-drained and moisture-retentive soil.


Showy Medinilla may be in need of water

This plant (pictured), which I bought a few weeks ago, has been shedding its leaves and looks like it is dying. What is it and how do I care for it?

Pauline Goh

The Showy Medinilla - botanically known as Medinilla magnifica - is an epiphyte and grows on tree branches.

Its roots need to be kept moist at all times and should never dry out. Use a growing mix that is rich in organic matter, aerated and well- drained.

The plant prefers to grow in semi-shade, with at least four hours of filtered sunlight. Keep it away from constant drying winds.

Your picture suggests that your plant may have been allowed to dry out, deprived of water for a long time or exposed to excessive sunlight or wind.


Six hours of direct sunlight for Coleus to thrive

How do I grow this plant (pictured)? It wilted a month after I bought it from a nursery. What happened?

Lim Karluan

The plant is botanically known as Plectranthus scutellarioides or better known as the Coleus plant. There are many cultivars to choose from, each with varying leaf shapes and colours.

For healthy growth and vivid foliage colour, it needs at least six hours of direct sunlight. It does not tolerate shade well.

The soil should be kept moist at all times, and frequent watering may be required if plants are grown in a small pot and under hot weather. Opt for well-draining soil that does not have heavy clay.

The plant's stems tend to rot easily if it is not grown in the right conditions.

Tip: Nectar in Blue Butterfly Bush attracts butterflies

The Blue Butterfly Bush, which is known botanically as Rotheca myricoides "Ugandense", is a shrub.

It has blue flowers that resemble butterflies in flight.

This plant attracts butterflies to the garden because of the nectar in its flowers.

It grows fast and is not difficult to cultivate. It needs full sunlight to thrive as well as fertile, well-draining and moist soil.


No scientific studies to prove ZZ Plant causes cancer

Is the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (pictured) toxic and cancer-causing?

Tan Han Liang

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, commonly known as the Zanzibar Gem or ZZ Plant, is a popular plant for Chinese New Year. There has been no scientific studies that support your claim. There are other false reports that the plant releases toxins into the air or soil.

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia belongs to the same plant family (Araceae) as the edible yam and they are known to have minute crystals called calcium oxalate in them.

These crystals can cause skin irritation. Plant parts and sap should never come in contact with sensitive mucous membranes on the body.

Many other common houseplants, such as the Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia), Elephant Ear (Alocasia macrorrhizos) and Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum), belong to the same plant family and share the same characteristics.

•Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore ( He is also an NParks-certified park manager.

•Have a gardening query? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline Root awakening: Grow Grass Orchid in a sunny spot. Subscribe