Root Awakening: Resurrection Fern requires semi-shade to grow well

Resurrection Fern.
Resurrection Fern.PHOTO: LIM GECK HOON
Common cooking ginger.
Common cooking ginger.PHOTO: JESSICA LOCK
Jammy Mouth.
Jammy Mouth.PHOTO: MONICA CHUNG

Resurrection Fern requires semi-shade to grow well

What plant is this and how do I care for it? When the plant is dry, the leaves will curl up, so it looks like a ball on a stick (stem). Once the plant is watered, the leaves open up. Is this plant easy to care for and does it need direct sunlight?

Lim Geck Hoon

The plant is probably the Resurrection Fern (botanical name: Selaginella tamariscina). It is a fern ally that has a unique growth habit where it develops a stem over time.

Harvesting of ginger depends on how it is to be used

How do I know when I can harvest the ginger for use? What does it mean when the leaves turn brown?

Jessica Lock

The time to harvest the common cooking ginger (botanical name: Zingiber officinale) will depend on the type of rhizome you want to use. The rhizome is the plant's underground stem and every new leafy shoot indicates its growth extension.

For older gingers where they are expected to have developed a fuller and stronger flavour, harvesting is reported to be done about nine months after planting, when leaves begin to turn yellow.

For younger gingers, harvesting can be performed between five and seven months after planting.

In this case, you do not need to unearth the entire plant. Small sections can be taken by cutting the rhizome using a spade as and when it is needed for use.

In terms of growth requirements, it is best grown under semi-shade getting four to six hours of filtered sunlight a day. The growing media should be well-draining and moisture-retentive.

Jammy Mouth shrub grows best under full sun

I was given these flowering plants - one has yellow flowers, the other has orange ones. They are of the same species and require full sun and watering twice a day. What is the name of the plants?

Monica Chung

The plant is botanically known as Ruttya fruticosa and it is a member of the Acanthaceae family. Its common names include Jammy Mouth and Rabbit Ears, probably referring to the appearance of its flowers.

This plant grows best under full sun outdoors and in moist and well-draining soil. It requires pruning to keep the growth habit tidy and can be propagated using stem-cuttings.

• 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 May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe