Root awakening: Capsicum prefers cool environment

Capsicum prefers cool environment

I remembered throwing some seeds into a pot two months ago. They have since grown into plants. Are they the capsicum plant?

Sally Lim

Looking at the leaves of the plant pictured, the plant is likely a capsicum.

Do make it a habit to label your pots so you know which plants grow in them.


The large fruiting capsicums (also known as sweet pepper) prefer a cooler growing environment.

With Singapore's hot weather conditions, its fruits tend to be smaller, its fruit production poor and its growth rate sluggish.

The plant is also prone to pest attacks.


Tip: Dwarf Powder Puff Plant has attractive red flowers

The Dwarf Powder Puff Plant (its botanical name is Calliandra tergemina var. emarginata) is a plant that can be grown as a shrub or a small tree.

It produces highly attractive, dense masses of red flowers that look like powder puffs almost all year round. Clusters of unopened flowers resemble raspberries.

This plant is best grown in an outdoor location where it can receive direct sunlight, though it can also tolerate light shade.

Several of these plants can be grown close together to form a hedge. Mass flowering will create a magnificent visual spectacle.

The Dwarf Powder Puff Plant grows best in moist, well-draining soils. Unlike most hedge plants, this plant should be allowed to grow and must not be over-pruned.


Black Face General a folk medicinal plant

My gardener, who gave me this plant, says it is a herb. What is its name and does it have any use?

G.T. Goh

The plant is botanically known as Strobilanthes crispus. Locally, it is known by its Chinese name, Black Face General.

It was once popular here as a folk medicinal herb for the treatment of cancer. This plant is traditionally used for the treatment of various ailments such as snakebites, kidney stones and diabetes.


Ample sunlight needed for chilli plant

My healthy chilli plant lost its leaves suddenly. What happened? How do I save it and prevent the shedding of leaves again?

Suzie Sim

There are some common reasons the plant lost its leaves.

Note that the chilli plant needs to be grown in a sunny location, with four to six hours of direct sunlight in an apartment balcony or corridor. An overly shady location in the apartment is not suitable for growing the chilli plant in the long term.

Also, ensure the soil of your chilli plant is kept moist at all times. If the plant is allowed to dry out totally, its leaves will turn yellow and fall off.

If the roots of a plant are kept overly wet for a long time, the roots will rot and die.

Regulate the frequency of watering by observing how long it takes for the soil to dry out a little. Insert a disposable chopstick into the soil to check its moisture content.

Last but not least, avoid putting your chilli plant in an overly windy location. Constant wind can dry out the leaves of your plant.

Find a suitable sunny and protected location to grow it.


Golden Apple Snail an invasive species

What is this pink growth on the stem of this lotus plant? Is it part of the plant or is it an insect's egg? I saw this plant in a lotus pond on Pulau Tekong some weeks ago.

Philip Chua

These are the eggs of the Golden Apple Snail, which is known scientifically as the Pomacea canaliculata.

These snails are exotic and have been listed as an invasive species. They damage crops and threaten native ecosystems.

If you see the eggs in your garden pond, remove the eggs promptly by scraping them off and throwing them away.

•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 May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe