Root Awakening: Pests and poor growing conditions may cause flower buds to drop

Pests and poor growing conditions may cause flower buds to drop.
Pests and poor growing conditions may cause flower buds to drop.PHOTO: CYNTHIA YOW EE-LINN
Native mulberry a butterfly host plant.
Native mulberry a butterfly host plant.PHOTO: VICTOR LIAN
Move money plant to a semi-shaded and more humid area.
Move money plant to a semi-shaded and more humid area.PHOTO: GOH SIO YEAN

Pests and poor growing conditions may cause flower buds to drop

My hibiscus develops many flower buds. Unfortunately, many fall off and do not flower. Why is this so and how can I prevent this from happening?

Cynthia Yow Ee-Linn

Did you buy this pot of hibiscus recently?

A change in the growing environment can cause the flower buds to be aborted.

The hibiscus is a sun-loving plant and needs to be grown under direct sunlight for at least six hours daily. The move to a less sunny spot can lead to flower bud drop.

Pests that infest hibiscus, such as thrips, are another possible cause.

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Thrips appear as very tiny and slender insects and are difficult to spot.

If they are seen on your plant, they can be eradicated with an organic pesticide called Spinosad. It is available only at selected nurseries in Singapore.

Finally, adequate watering and protection from rain are crucial for the plant during the rainy season.

Excessive watering, or the lack of it, and a saturated root zone can cause buds to fall prematurely.

Rain can injure flower buds and cause them to be aborted.

Move money plant to a semi-shaded and more humid area

Is this a money plant? The plant does not seem to grow upwards on the inserted pole. It has grown on the wall instead. Will it die easily and damage the wall? Also, is the plant diseased as it has rotten leaves?

Goh Sio Yean

The plant is indeed the money plant (botanical name: Epipremnum aureum). It appears that the plant is stressed, given the very yellow leaves, which are an indication that it is receiving too much direct sunlight.

The money plant prefers to grow in a semi-shaded spot and intense sunlight bleaches the leaves to a sickly yellow and can burn them, causing them to be infected by fungus or bacteria that eventually leads to rotted leaves.

Also, the plant will prefer to climb on a moist moss or coco fibre pole. From your picture, the pole is not completely covered and, under the current conditions, the material will dry out too quickly.

It is recommended you move the plant to a position where there is filtered sunlight for at least six hours daily. The plant should be placed where it is not too windy or it will dry out.

Moisten the moss or coconut fibre pot regularly and guide the vine up to help it to climb.

Native mulberry a butterfly host plant What is this plant (above) I found in my garden? It has leaves which seem too big for the size of the plant. The leaves are serrated and feel sticky. Victor Lian The plant is botanically known as Pipturus argenteus and is commonly called the "native mulberry". Note that it is not related to the mulberry (botanical name: Morus alba) that is often grown for its oblong edible fruit by local gardeners.

The native mulberry is a host plant of the Malayan Eggfly caterpillar and hence often grown in butterfly gardens.

It appears to be quite difficult to raise new plants from cuttings and seeds are probably the best way of propagation. The plant often occurs spontaneously in flower pots and in gardens.

• 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 and reject questions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2019, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe