Root awakening

Pink Lady.
Pink Lady.PHOTO: ANDREW WONG
Camellia changii.
Camellia changii.PHOTO: IRENE CHONG
Cekur manis.
Cekur manis.PHOTO: GERRY ONG
Blue pea plant.
Blue pea plant.PHOTO: ISAAC HO

Pink Lady Creeping Inch Plant has attractive foliage

What plant is this and how do I take care of it? I bought it at a local store. 

Andrew Wong

The plant is very popular among gardeners now.

It is botanically known as Callisia repens "Pink Lady" and its common name is Pink Lady Creeping Inch Plant.

This plant needs to be grown under good light, preferably under filtered sunlight for at least four hours daily to maintain its vibrant pink hue and compact growth habit.

Under dim conditions, the plant will stretch and the foliage colour will fade.

Also, the growing media should be porous and kept slightly moist. Avoid overwatering the plant as excessive moisture will cause it to rot and die.


Camellia species flowers well in tropical Singapore

What is this plant and how do I take care of it? Recently, the tips of the leaves turned brown and dropped off.

Irene Chong

This plant is botanically known as Camellia changii. It is one of the few species of Camellia that flower well in tropical Singapore. It is often sold as a grafted plant on a Camellia japonica rootstock.

It appears that your plant is grown in a balcony where sunlight comes in from one direction. The lack of sunlight and wet feet at the root zone can lead to issues you have mentioned.

As such, it is recommended you rotate the plant to ensure all its parts get some sunlight exposure. It should be provided with direct sunlight for at least six hours daily.

It grows best in a large container of moist and well-drained soil. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.


Cekur manis produces edible leaves

I have this plant in the garden. What is its common name? Is it a vegetable plant? Can the leaves and flowers be boiled to make an edible vegetable soup?

Gerry Ong

The plant is commonly called the sweet leaf plant or cekur manis. Its botanical name is Sauropus androgynus.

It is a native plant of Singapore and its young tender leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Bundles of cut portions of this plant are sold in local markets. The leaves are stripped from the branches and best consumed after cooking.

The plant can be grown under full sun or in semi-shade in an outdoor garden. Soil should be moist and well-drained. The plant is easily propagated via stem-cuttings.


Blue pea plant may be lacking sunlight

My blue pea plant grew from seeds and spread very fast, but I still have not seen any flowering. I have given the plant some flowering plant feeders for the past three weeks, but to no avail.

Isaac Ho

Your blue pea or butterfly pea plant (botanical name - Clitoria ternatea) may not be flowering due to the lack of sunlight.

It appears to be grown in a shaded area, which is not suitable for growing this vine. This plant grows best when it gets at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily. Note that the lack of sunlight can lead to pest and disease issues over time.

The yellowing leaves may be a sign of a spider mite infestation. Spider mites are a common pest on the butterfly pea plant. They appear as small red dots on the underside of leaves where they suck sap and cause leaves to have tiny yellow spots.

If a spider mite infestation is found, it is best to remove severely infested leaves and spray the plant with summer oil to manage the pest population.

• 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Root awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe