Singapore Expats Forum

House plants

Discuss about the latest news & interesting topics, real life experience or other out of topic discussions with locals & expatriates in Singapore.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 6:29 pm

Could you have a look what neighbours with plants, with a similar aspect as yours are growing?

I recall our basil was growing about an inch a day, maybe 3' in a month, it was pretty astonishing! :) Taking cuttings, dusting in rooting powder, spiking a hole in the soil with a biro, and sticking the cutting in, and off they went! In the end we had 5-6 plants in a single pot... which is why we ended up making pesto, as we had SO much basil that had to be harvested (and you cannot freeze basil) :)

Some herbs (esp the 'soft herbs', basil, tarragon, parsley etc) need close care and attention. Harder herbs, like those from more arid climes less so. It'd be fun growing rosemary, and I'm pretty sure I've seen both that and bay over at Thompson. [I've just remembered I used FEF once, but subsequently a place called Hawaii Landscaping].

(Re: bay. My parents have a couple of huge bay bushes, well more trees as they must be 15' high :). When I visit I pick about 30-40 good looking leaves and tie them in a bundle at the stems with a rubber band. Then I roll them in a piece of newspaper, so it looks a bit like a 4" cigar, and that goes in the freezer for use as and when. I do the same for rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, and the flavours seem to hold up pretty well. Granted it's not as pungent as fresh, but getting there...

p.s. When I was researching plants I did some studying of a few websites.
One was a SG horticultural one (a gardening organisation of some kind). I also did some simple searches like 'How to grow [abc]', to get the low-down on what the plant needs, and what can make it thrive (sun, watering, feeding, pests, etc) ... sort of a decent low-down if an idea could work, and also whether you can have the time required to make it work.

p.s. @Beppi. Yes we had citronella/lemongrass too, and that was pretty simple and hardy. For some reason I don't recall ever getting to harvest any though :???: Quite big, even growth, plain but attractive... hard to kill lol.

It's interesting, some things need close TLC, and you'd have thought it perverse, but some plants actively thrive on harsh conditions (occasional intentional underwatering, poor soil, etc).

Many of them are better off drawing water up just the amount of water needed from drip trays, as if the plants get 'wet feet [i.e. water-logged roots]' they die. BUT... beware the SG 'Mosquito Police' who do not encourage drip trays!

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 7:47 pm

Girl_Next_Door wrote:My air-con is never lower than 25 degrees. It is usually 25-26 degrees when we are at home. I have only go the tree for 3 weeks and haven't got my electricity bill, so can't tell for now. The tree still looks very full so it should be able to last for quite a while.


We had a real one in Europe the past few years, and yes it is nice, mmm and the smell.

We found a novel product, like this:
http://christbaumstaender.krinner.com/

This base unit securely clamps the tree in place, and weighs several kilos. It also has a water reservoir that holds, I forget, maybe 2L of water, plus an indicator when it's running low.

We bought our trees, and had the retailer cut the bottom 1" off the stem to get rid of the dried 'slime plug'. Got them home swiftly and straight in the stand. The trees would immediately take up maybe 3-4+L of water in an hour or two! And subsequently maybe a litre a day.

It helped keep the tree fresh and good looking for a couple of weeks, and reduced needle drop. The base didn't cost huge sums either, e30-40? We still have it with us here, but what with the cost of fresh trees here, I can't see it getting used.

I think this is the one we have (it's buried somewhere in the bomb-shelter, so I have to guesstimate)... I chose it as I don't really ever expect to want a tree more than say 2.5M tall.
http://christbaumstaender.krinner.com/k ... rt-en.html

User avatar
Tanuki
Regular
Regular
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri, 19 Jul 2013

Postby Tanuki » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 8:05 pm

JR8 wrote:Could you have a look what neighbours with plants, with a similar aspect as yours are growing?

I recall our basil was growing about an inch a day, maybe 3' in a month, it was pretty astonishing! :) Taking cuttings, dusting in rooting powder, spiking a hole in the soil with a biro, and sticking the cutting in, and off they went! In the end we had 5-6 plants in a single pot... which is why we ended up making pesto, as we had SO much basil that had to be harvested (and you cannot freeze basil) :)

Some herbs (esp the 'soft herbs', basil, tarragon, parsley etc) need close care and attention. Harder herbs, like those from more arid climes less so. It'd be fun growing rosemary, and I'm pretty sure I've seen both that and bay over at Thompson. [I've just remembered I used FEF once, but subsequently a place called Hawaii Landscaping].

p.s. @Beppi. Yes we had citronella/lemongrass too, and that was pretty simple and hardy. For some reason I don't recall ever getting to harvest any though :???: Quite big, even growth, plain but attractive... hard to kill lol.

It's interesting, some things need close TLC, and you'd have thought it perverse, but some plants actively thrive on harsh conditions (occasional intentional underwatering, poor soil, etc).

Many of them are better off drawing water up just the amount of water needed from drip trays, as if the plants get 'wet feet [i.e. water-logged roots]' they die. BUT... beware the SG 'Mosquito Police' who do not encourage drip trays!

Wow, lots of awesome feedback on this. Thanks everyone for the great ideas! One thing we're considering is a calamansi tree if they're small enough. We use that in lots of things including cocktails, so it would be fun to pick fresh fruit! Lemongrass would be good as my wife is a dessert for the damn mossies here. Our veranda faces north and gets no sun, so that makes this venture a little simpler perhaps.

Cheers!

Tanuki

beppi
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1752
Joined: Thu, 07 Sep 2006
Location: Ahlongistan (O$P$)

Postby beppi » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 8:57 pm

Citronella, or indeed any non-chemical agent, is useless against Singapore mosquitoes!
Rosemary is available in pots at the Hort Park horticultural centre, but it does not grow well and is susceptible to fungal infections due to the high humidity that it doesn't like. I expect the same with (real, mediterranean) bay leaves, but the Indian variety (a tropical plant that tastes different and is not related) could work well.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 9:33 pm

Kalamansi lime (you remind me now of the variety) is what we had. The shrub was no more than 60cm high, and it grew pretty slowly as I recall.

I think it did get occasional minor leaf-mould, but you'd just spray - and then not harvest fruit for a week or so after. Another tip, is when you buy them, they'll still be in their 'starter pots', which will be pretty small.

Get a bigger pot, put a few inches of loam-soil in the bottom (after covering the drain-hole with a piece of Alu roughly cut from a Coke can, or similar - at home we'd use a piece of broken roof-slate, or broken terracotta clay pot, but hey, you have to improvise here :))

Invert the plant in it's small pot, which is easier if you've let the soil dry for a day or too. Tap the pot firmly a few times until it loosens. Lift off the old pot, put shrub upright on the middle of the soil in the new pot. Fill the gap around the sides with fresh soil. Compact firmly enough so the plant happily stands upright on it's own. Give it a good water.

Be prepared to top up once more with a bit more soil, as the watering will likely reduce it's volume. >> The result of this is that the plant will rapidly take the cue to grow into it's new space, and the growth should be good, and plant 'happy'* Plus, the extra soil/retained water volume, makes maintaining it simpler. I.e you can away on a trip and worry less that it will be parched to death. :)

Nice flowers, which smelled absolutely divine! The fruit grew pretty quickly. Harvesting encouraged refruiting. But there are other techniques like encouraging regrowth and fruiting via pruning, and so on.

Yes that would probably be a good plant to start with. Not so challenging/moody and using the fruit is really fun :)

p.s. don't recall what I paid, but I didn't pay more than circa $30 for ANY of my plants/shrubs (and even that was for the big 4' yellow-palm.

* Anyway, all of this can be found online. Or consider buying a book on the techniques of growing container-plants.

User avatar
Tanuki
Regular
Regular
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri, 19 Jul 2013

Postby Tanuki » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 9:52 pm

JR8

Cool to know the calamansi is pretty easy. We love the fruit and use it all the time, so having it on our own little tree is perfect!

Thanks for the tips. Come over and drink some of it with us sometime!

Tanuki

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Thu, 12 Dec 2013 10:14 pm

Tanuki wrote:JR8
Cool to know the calamansi is pretty easy. We love the fruit and use it all the time, so having it on our own little tree is perfect!
Thanks for the tips. Come over and drink some of it with us sometime!
Tanuki



Most kind!
:)


p.s. My wife reminded me that we used to make gin gimlet cocktails (more like an iced shot really), kalamansi juice + good export gin. Woof, that puts hairs on your chest, and the gin helps keep the mossies off!

kookaburrah
Regular
Regular
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu, 21 Aug 2008
Location: SG

Postby kookaburrah » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 10:05 am

http://www.leevalley.com/en/Garden/page.aspx?p=62803&cat=2,66758&ap=1

Not sure if you'd heard about these. Very useful if you travel. Works very well too!

User avatar
Tanuki
Regular
Regular
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri, 19 Jul 2013

Postby Tanuki » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:04 am

JR8 wrote:
p.s. My wife reminded me that we used to make gin gimlet cocktails (more like an iced shot really), kalamansi juice + good export gin. Woof, that puts hairs on your chest, and the gin helps keep the mossies off!

I have found that the cheap calamansi juice from the stores, with actual fruit halves from our stock, makes a really great mixer for drinks. I like it with Jack Daniels or vodka. :P

User avatar
the lynx
Governor
Governor
Posts: 5266
Joined: Thu, 09 Dec 2010
Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location: Location:

Postby the lynx » Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:26 am

Tanuki wrote:
JR8 wrote:
p.s. My wife reminded me that we used to make gin gimlet cocktails (more like an iced shot really), kalamansi juice + good export gin. Woof, that puts hairs on your chest, and the gin helps keep the mossies off!

I have found that the cheap calamansi juice from the stores, with actual fruit halves from our stock, makes a really great mixer for drinks. I like it with Jack Daniels or vodka. :P


Ah calamansi. Especially a triple distilled Russian vodka. :cool:

PrimroseHill
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 368
Joined: Tue, 13 Dec 2011

Postby PrimroseHill » Mon, 16 Dec 2013 10:17 am

Ok I have done my list somewhat-
1. lime
2. aloe vera
3. pandan
4. curry
5. kaffir
6. chilli
7. ginger
8. parsley
9. basil
10 lemongrass
11 bay.

My kitchen balcony doesnt get much sunlight, is that list viable? I recently bought one of those multi planter thingy.
We bought a real Christmas tree too. Keep it watered and put some mossie powder. So far so good, some needles dropped but overall ok. It is bushier than the ones we used to have in London. the smell is fantastic. So fingers cross

User avatar
Tanuki
Regular
Regular
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri, 19 Jul 2013

Postby Tanuki » Sun, 05 Jan 2014 8:22 pm

JR8 wrote:p.s. My wife reminded me that we used to make gin gimlet cocktails (more like an iced shot really), kalamansi juice + good export gin. Woof, that puts hairs on your chest, and the gin helps keep the mossies off!

Since you had the trees, I'm curious about one area. We got conflicting info from the staff about using plant nutrients. They told us to use it a month or more after the fruit finished, and then it would flower again. My wife found some things on the net that said otherwise. What regimen did you follow? We'd like to keep flowers and fruit coming all year. \:D/

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Re:

Postby JR8 » Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:18 pm

Tanuki wrote: Since you had the trees, I'm curious about one area. We got conflicting info from the staff about using plant nutrients. They told us to use it a month or more after the fruit finished, and then it would flower again. My wife found some things on the net that said otherwise. What regimen did you follow? We'd like to keep flowers and fruit coming all year. \:D/


I wanted to continue this topic, and I missed the above post at the time.

I don't recall there being a fruiting season with the kalamansi. What we'd do is trim off any fruit when ever it became available. That alone seemed to trigger further fruiting. Initially I had left the fruit on until needed, it can start to yellow, but is still tasty, though looks a little questionable I suppose. But the latter seemed to halt further fruiting.

I think the conclusion is that each plant has it's idiosyncrasies of likes and dislikes, and one thing seemingly leading to another. ...

I found a yellow palm down by the rubbish bins a week or two ago, and it wasn't looking happy. So I brought it home and put it on our balcony. Mrs JR8 asked why on earth I'd bothered with a half-dead plant, but I couldn't walk past an abandoned/sick puppy either :? :)

First I pruned off the dead/terminally sick stems. That shrunk it quite a bit, but what was left had a chance I thought. I put it to the front of the balcony where it would get good sun. I mean palms love sun right? Looking into the cause of yellow spots on a couple of fronds suggested potassium deficiency. So I got an appropriate plant food from NTUC and gave it a thorough watering with that. [Visions of me soon to be sitting in the shade of a gloriously huge and healthy palm...].

What I hadn't considered was this was too much of a good thing. Like a man found crawling in the desert, it's counter-intuitive but handing him a pint of water could trigger his death. I reckon this had maybe been an indoor plant, and it had perhaps never been fed. The foliage rapidly started turning yellow, even the younger fronds. It's called a yellow palm, but it's only the older fronds that yellow over time.

Looking into it, it seems these palms need indirect light. Too much direct sun is positively bad for them. So I drew it to the back of the balcony which should suit it better. I'm being careful with the watering, I think plants like this benefit from it not being too generous, it encourages growth (plus the substrate seems perhaps like an over-rich, and water-retaining mix). And indeed within two weeks it rapidly sent up three new 'spears'.

What I also hadn't considered is mealy bugs. There are no other house-plants nearby that I can see. I've never seen those ever-so-pretty but carriers of pestilence and botanical death, the huge butterflies, at this current flat of ours. And yet within a week or two I noticed it was getting the dreaded mealy bugs! :roll:

Turns out they're particularly fond of over-fed plants. And the problem is once you have mealy bugs, you can also gets ants, that live symbiotically from/with the bugs. [Last time that led to us having a *full-on* ants nest in my study!! - unbelievable, when I accidentally disturbed it it was like something from a horror film].

So. Indirect light. Don't feed more than once a month, don't over water, and remain vigilant for bugs.

To deal with the mealy bugs I did some research. Previously I've used some hard-core pesticides, but I really don't enjoy applying that stuff, especially in a breezy area. What I found recommended was spraying with a soap solution. Washing up liquid + water, to a similar concentration you might mix for washing up. Put that in a pump bottle, and spray the plant all over twice a day. Making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies, especially say where the base of the fronds join the frond stem, where the frond stems join the main plant, and even over the surface of the potting substrate. Simple, takes two minutes.

Within a week all mealy bugs are gone (I think!). I'll now cut down to spraying once a day for a week or so, and then later on rely upon weekly visual checks. So for the meanwhile, I think I've managed to find a happy equilibrium for this plant. Fingers crossed!
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

User avatar
rajagainstthemachine
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2815
Joined: Sat, 24 Nov 2012
Location: Singapore

Re: House plants

Postby rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 30 Jan 2015 1:22 pm

Adding to this thread, we landed in a walk up apartment with a large amount of neglected pots and long planters
I went and resurrected all the bougainvilleas and repotted them with fresh soil, they now bear orange,pink and green flowers.
I am growing jasmine in another planter which I bought from Far East Flora.
Chillies and Basil in another and like JR8 said it grows pretty fast
Orchids ( white and purple )
chrysanthemums
a kind of bamboo
various cacti from Ikea
and some fluorescent green leaved plants for aesthetic purposes.
oh and I have some Aloe Vera which grows rather well too
and a pot of firangi pani i love these flowers they are so aromatic.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Re: House plants

Postby JR8 » Fri, 30 Jan 2015 2:09 pm

Blimey, that's damned impressive! So many different varieties, and with varying and some very specific demanding needs. Orchids too => 'Dr. Green Fingers' ;)
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest