Root awakening: Grow Amazon Sword in water

Grow Amazon Sword in water.
Grow Amazon Sword in water.PHOTO: ONG KIAN KIE
Fig roots can strangle other plants.
Fig roots can strangle other plants.PHOTO: TANG SWEE PENG
Fig roots can strangle other plants.
Fig roots can strangle other plants.PHOTO: TANG SWEE PENG
Plant Cup of Gold Vine in sunny spot.
Plant Cup of Gold Vine in sunny spot.PHOTO: VINCENT TO
Furry membrane no cause for concern.
Furry membrane no cause for concern.PHOTO: ONG WAN CHENG
Heliconia stricta ‘Carli’s Sharonii’ (above).
Heliconia stricta ‘Carli’s Sharonii’ (above).PHOTO: WILSON WONG

Grow Amazon Sword in water

Is this an aquatic plant? I found it near a koi pond and the flowers attract bees.

Ong Kian Kie

The plant you show looks like an Echinodorus species, but closer examination is required to determine the exact species.

Commonly called the Amazon Sword, Echinodorus are popular aquatic plants.

They can be grown submerged in water, in planted aquariums or allowed to grow above water as a marginal plant growing along a moist or wet pond edge.

Fig roots can strangle other plants

I found this plant along the road and put it in a pot. It started growing well and bore small, dark red fruits recently. But the roots of the plant have grown outside of the pot and become entangled.What is it and how do I care for this plant?

Tang Swee Peng

It is a type of fig.From your description of its fruits as well as the picture of its leaves, it appears to be Ficus microcarpa, commonly knownas Malayan Banyan.

Its seeds are often dispersed by birds via their droppings and the fig roots appear in various places such as flower pots, between tree branches, crevices in concrete structures and spaces between roof tiles in buildings.

This fig species is a strangler and if it is growing unattended on or near a tree, it can grow and take over the tree and eventually kill it. If it grows near buildings, its roots can cause structural damage which can be difficult to detect.

If you want to grow this plant, make sure it is in a sunny spot and that you manage its growth as well as the spread of its roots.

Plant Cup of Gold Vine in sunny spot

I have been growing this beautiful flowering plant in the void deck. What is its name?

Vincent To

The plant you have is commonly called Cup of Gold Vine or Chalice Vine.

Its botanical name is Solandra grandiflora and it is a member of the tomato family (Solanaceae).

It often grows as a climber and produces showy flowers that are fragrant at night.

A plus point about it is that it can be pruned and kept as a shrub and it will still flower.

It does best in sunny spots with well-draining and moist soil.

Furry membrane no cause for concern

I have a 2.5m-tall foxtail palm that was planted two years ago. Two weeks ago, I noticed a white, fluffy cotton- like membranous mesh covering the tree trunk.

It started growing 30cm off the ground, though it did not touch the leaves or their stalks. There are no insects such as spiders or mealy bugs either. This membrane can be peeled off easily without damaging the trunk. What is it?

Ong Wan Cheng

There is no cause for concern as the white waxy coating is a natural part of the plant which is usually found on new growth of the palm. The coat is usually shed as the growth matures.

Tip: Heliconia vision

Heliconias have earned themselves a bad name as fast-growing, invasive and high-maintenance plants. However, not all heliconias are fast-growing and invasive.

A clump of heliconias is a must-have in an outdoor tropical- themed garden.

Shown in the picture here is Heliconia stricta 'Carli's Sharonii', which is a delightful cultivar that produces highly showy flowers and leaves that have attractive red mid-ribs and leaf undersides.

Unlike many common Heliconia psittacorum cultivars, which are fast-growing and invasive, this cultivar forms a tight clump and does not run amok.

Under high light conditions, the plant will be shorter - under 1m tall. In shadier conditions, it can grow between 1m and 1.5m tall.

It grows best in semi-shade - in a cool location with fertile soil rich in organic matter that is kept moist at all times.

Like many heliconias, it likes to be fed regularly with organic fertiliser to promote robust growth.

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

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Root awakening: Grow Amazon Sword in water'. Print Edition | Subscribe