Root Awakening

Broad-leaf Fig, Giant Indian Fig or Elephant Ear Fig Tree.
Broad-leaf Fig, Giant Indian Fig or Elephant Ear Fig Tree.PHOTO: DAVID SEAH

Fruit of the Giant Indian Fig are edible

What is this tree (top)? The fruit look like figs, but the leaves' shape is different. Are the fruit edible?

David Seah

The tree is known via common names such as Broad-leaf Fig, Giant Indian Fig and Elephant Ear Fig Tree. Its botanical name is Ficus auriculata.

This fig species grows as a tree with a wide-spreading crown and, with its distinctive large leaves, it can be planted as a specimen plant in large gardens.

The large figs produced by this tree are edible and can be made into jam and juice and used to cook curries. An infusion of its leaves has been reported to be used for treating diabetes and high blood pressure.

Sand Ginger eaten with salads and used in traditional medicine


Sand Ginger. PHOTO: HELEN TEOH

I have this plant (above) in my garden, but I am not sure what it is called and whether it can be eaten. Can you help?

Helen Teoh

The plant is called the Cekur, Kencur or Sand Ginger and is botanically known as Kaempferia galanga. It is a low-growing ginger that thrives under semi-shade and in moist soil that is rich in organic matter.

Rhizomes of this ginger are sold in wet market stalls in Tekka and Geylang Serai. The plant produces an attractive and rather large, white butterfly-shaped flower, which lasts for only a day.

The young leaves of this ginger can be chopped finely and added to salads for their unique flavour and fragrance.

The rhizomes of this ginger are used traditionally to treat a range of health issues such as inflammation, high blood pressure and sore throat.

Blue Pencil Pine needs to be grown under full sun and in a well-drained site



Blue Pencil Pine. PHOTO: FLORENCE LEONG

I bought this pine (above) more than a year ago, but it has not grown since then. What plant is this and why is it not growing?

Florence Leong

The plant shown in the photo is probably the Blue Pencil Pine, which is a Juniperus cultivar with blue-green leaves.

It is a slow-growing plant which prefers cooler and drier climates.

Note that this plant requires full sun to thrive. It should be grown in well-drained media.

The plant tends to succumb to disease when it is grown in soils that are constantly wet and poorly drained. It may be better to grow it in a pot where you can control its water intake and provide protection during the rainy season.

Pandan needs larger pot


Pandan amaryllifolius. PHOTO: ANGELINE PANG YING KUANG

My pandan plant (above) seems to be "rising". I have been trimming the dead/dying leaves, which normally start at the base. I notice the roots are becoming visible. Should I be worried about this?

Angeline Pang Ying Kuang

A pandan plant (Pandan amaryllifolius) normally forms a stem as it grows taller and the older leaves shed gradually. The plant also sends down aerial roots as it grows, which give the plant additional support.

It appears that your plant is being grown in a pot that is too small. The plant needs to be grown in a constantly moist medium and a large pot of soil can hold more moisture for it and is less likely to dry out.

The leaves appear a little yellow. It could be because of drought stress due to the lack of water and the lack of fertiliser. In the case of the latter, you can feed the plant with slow-release, balanced fertiliser pellets available in most large nurseries.


FREE GARDENING TALK

Dr Wilson Wong will hold a talk at the SGF Horticulture Show at Jurong Lake Gardens.

What: Pest & Disease Management For Edible Gardens

Where: The Oval, Jurong Lake Gardens West

When: Tomorrow, 5 to 6pm

Admission: Free


• Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, an NParks-certified practising horticulturist and park manager. 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 or reject questions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe