Root Awakening: Succulent may be the pigface plant

Succulent may be the pigface plant.
Succulent may be the pigface plant.PHOTO: ANG CHER HOON

Succulent may be the pigface plant

This plant was given to me. What is its name and origin?

Ang Cher Hoon

The plant appears to be a species of Carpobrotus. The plants from the genus are commonly known as pigface, ice plant, sour fig and Hottentot fig.

It is not possible to pinpoint the exact species without seeing the flowers.

Depending on the species, the plants occur naturally in South Africa, southern Australia and southern United States.

They grow as ground-creeping plants with succulent leaves and large daisy-like flowers.

The fruit and leaves of the plant are edible.

Monkey's Potato is a common local weed


Monkey’s Potato is a common local weed. PHOTO: RICHARD HUANG

I was growing oregano and this plant grew too. I believe it to be a type of mint. What is it? It was also attacked by insects.

Richard Huang

The plant appears to be a common weed in Singapore where it readily disperses its seeds and grows in pots and planted areas. It is the Monkey's Potato and its botanical name is Plectranthus monostachyus.

It is from the mint family, Lamiaceae, and related to the Indian Borage (botanical name: Plectranthus amboinicus).

From the yellowing symptom of its leaves, the plant appears to have a nutrient deficiency, which can be corrected by ensuring the soil pH level is suited for its growth.

Water lily has leaf spot disease and needs more direct sunlight for flower buds to develop properly


Water lily has leaf spot disease and needs more direct sunlight for flower buds to develop properly. PHOTO: CHEW CHEE KUAN

I have tropical water lilies in my garden and they get four to six hours of direct sunlight. I regularly prune dead leaves and give the plants fertilising tablets meant for water lilies monthly. However, the success rate of a water lily bud blooming is only 50 per cent. Sometimes, the stalk of a flower bud does not grow upwards from the crown of the plant, but would grow long and curvy under water. Other times, it grows out of the pot (left photo)and the flower bud would die prematurely without flowering. A flower bud (with long stalk) would also die under water before it could break the water surface. What is the reason for this premature death of the flower buds and how can I prevent it from happening? Also, some of the leaves have yellow spotted holes (right photo). Why is this happening and how can I prevent it?

Chew Chee Kuan

The flower buds' failure to develop properly could be due to insufficient sunlight as water lilies require full sun. They are best grown with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive and flower.

The infected leaves were likely caused by a fungal disease. To prevent its spread, it is recommended you remove infected leaves as soon as symptoms appear and discard them.

Never compost infected leaves as the fungal infection may spread to other plants when the compost is used. Note that it can be difficult to treat the issue with fungicides as these chemicals are toxic to aquatic life.

Indian jujube best grown in container


Indian jujube best
grown in container. PHOTO: RAHUL MENON

This plant has small white flowers. What plant is it and how do I care for it?

Rahul Menon

The shrub is the Indian jujube (botanical name: Ziziphus mauritiana). It grows as a thorny shrub and can be cultivated into a tree. The fruit are light green to yellow when immature and, as they ripen, turn reddish brown or red. They are edible.

  • VIEW IT /GARDENING TALKS BY DR WILSON WONG

  • WHAT: Understanding Growing Media For Beginners

    WHERE: Centre for Education & Outreach, House 1F, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter via Bukit Timah Gate near Botanic Gardens MRT station)

    WHEN: Sunday, 10 to 11am

    ADMISSION: Free

  • WHAT: Plant Nutrition For Edible Gardens

    WHERE: Centre for Education & Outreach, House 1F, Singapore Botanic Gardens (enter via Bukit Timah Gate near Botanic Gardens MRT station)

    WHEN: Sunday, 11am to noon

    ADMISSION: Free

This plant needs at least six hours of direct sunlight daily to grow well. It appears to produce fruit more readily when planted in a large pot. Prune the plant periodically to manage its size when it is grown in a pot.

• 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 July 13, 2019, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe