Root awakening: Arum lily is a weed

Arum lily.

Arum lily is a weed

I uprooted an Arum lily, which was growing under some heliconias, and planted it in its own pot. A heavy and unpleasant smell pervaded my balcony after. I removed it and replanted it where I originally found it growing. Does it belong to the Arum family of plants?

Davi Beschizza

The plant is botanically known as Typhonium roxburghii. Yes, it belongs to the Arum family (Araceae). It is sometimes known by its common name Dwarf Voodoo Lily.

It is a small plant that grows in many areas as a weed, including flower pots and outdoor gardens.


Sucking insects may be cause of chilli plant woes

I have never grown chillies till they bear fruit. Before they mature, they wilt and die. The leaves curl, turn brown and dry up. Why does this happen?

Desmond Chan

You may want to check for sucking insect pests in the new leaves. Sucking pests such as spider mites, thrips, mealy bugs and aphids tend to congregate on young emerging leaves. They suck sap and cause leaves to become distorted.

Prune the distorted leaves because they make it difficult for pesticides to reach the pests. Use environmentally friendly pesticides such as neem oil and summer oil as chillies are edible.

Healthy plants grown under optimal conditions tend to be less prone to pest issues. Ensure that your chilli plant is grown in the right location. It should be exposed to some direct sunlight for several hours a day if you live in an apartment.

Avoid overfeeding your plants with fertilisers rich in nitrogen as they promote the profusion of tender young leaves, which attract sucking pests.


Tip: Add colour to a plot with Ivory Ribbons

Asystasia gangetica “Ivory Ribbons” is an attractive plant with a spreading habit. Its variegated leaves – the edges are yellow with an irregular pattern – add colour to an outdoor garden.

The plant can also be used as a hanging basket plant or grown in a long planter box where its stems are allowed to grow over the edge.

This plant also produces pink flowers with yellow centres that grow above the canopy of leaves.

This variegated Asystasia gangetica needs a sunny spot and moist but well-draining soil to grow well. It propagates easily from stem-cuttings. It is a good choice for an English garden-themed landscape.


Singapore's climate does not help Jade plant to thrive

I bought a few Jade plants from a nursery, but they have died. I had potted them in an equal mix of soil compost and perlite. I also avoided watering the plants too often. I placed each pot at the corner of the planter in my balcony so that it did not get drenched during rainy seasons. The edges of the leaves turned brown and yellow and dropped at a slight touch. The stems also turned brown and were limp. What went wrong?

Daniel Tan

It is difficult to grow the Jade plant (its botanical name is Crassula ovata) well in Singapore as it prefers cooler nights.

The lack of cool nights hampers the plant's unique metabolism process. As a result, the plant will slowly decline over time.

The stress and the humidity the plant experiences in Singapore will render it more prone to stem rot and a range of foliage diseases as shown in the picture.

The Jade plant is best used as a short-term display plant and can be discarded when it starts to decline.

There is a wide range of other succulents that are more suited for growing in Singapore's climate.


Make orchid a stem-cutting

I have had this orchid for several years. It blooms once a year, close to the Chinese New Year season. Recently, two baby plants started growing from the lower part of the orchid. Should I cut and grow them separately?

Ang Lee Cheng

You may leave the plant alone, but for aesthetic reasons, some people will cut the top of the plant and replant it.

To do so, cut the top of the plant with a sharp tool and grow it as a stem-cutting. Remember to get enough of the stem portion with some roots. Apply fungicide powder to the wound to reduce the incidence of disease and let the wound heal.

After that, grow the cutting in a pot of media, which can be a mix of small charcoal pieces or fern bark chips for drainage and sphagnum moss to help retain moisture for the roots. The ratio can vary depending on growing conditions.

Do not pack the media too tightly as this will reduce the rate of evaporation and drying of the root zone. Prolonged exposure to soggy conditions can lead to root rot.

• 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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Root awakening: Arum lily is a weed'. Print Edition | Subscribe