The second instalment of the Root Awakening column for May 09 was published today. Like previous ones, answers to three gardening questions were given.
The first question dealt with white pests that appear on chilli plants. Without a photo, I can only guess that they may either be whiteflies or mealy bugs. The population of these two pests can be controlled by means of an organic spray, such as white summer oil that is available for sale in most nurseries that work by suffocating these insects. Neem oil can also be used in this case.
The second question was about the leaves of the rhapis palm turning brown at the tips. Rhapis palms are notably sensitive to excessive chloride or fluroide in the water that is used to water it. Damaged leaves are done for and these can be cut away. To prevent leaves from turning brown in the tips, one can opt to use rainwater instead to water his/her plants.
The last question was about repotting a moth orchid. Although many commercially available moth orchids may come in translucent plastic pots, they need not be potted up in the same type of pot. Because the moth orchid is an epiphytic orchid, it is best to grow inside a pot that is rather porous in nature. An unglazed terracotta pot or a net pot or basket meant for growing orchids is suitable. Sphagnum moss that many imported moth orchids come with is not a suitable medium for growing them in the tropics. Change the medium into charcoal chips instead.