The first instalment of the Root Awakening column for Nov 09 was published yesterday. As usual, answers to three gardening questions were provided. The first question was about about the growing of durian trees from seeds. In general, young durian plants prefer to be grown in a sunny spot with soil that is fertile and well-draining. The roots should be kept moist at all times and not be allowed to dry out. Drying out of plants can lead to stunting of growth. One can fertilise the plant with slow-release fertilisers in accordance to rate and frequency recommended by the manufacturer. Do also remember to transplant the plant into a larger pot so that its growth is not constrained.
The second question was about a dying frangipani plant that does not generate new growth. I reckoned this particular frangipani may be grown in a location that is waterlogged. Frangipani is a drought-tolerant plant that does not like wet feet and prefers to be grown in a sunny spot with soil that is fertile and well-draining. One may want to dig the plant out from its growing location and check if its roots are still healthy. If the roots are all black and mushy, the roots are already damaged and there is no cure. The only way to salvage the plant is to cut the remaining healthy stems and use them as stem-cuttings for propagation.
The last question was about the growing of the pennywort plant (Hydrocotyle species) that is often offered for sale as a houseplant. Despite being offered for sale as a houseplant, it is important to note taht all ‘indoor’ or ‘houseplants’ need sunshine to grow and the penny plant is no exception. It should be grown in a place where it can receive some filtered sunshine about 4 to 6 hours daily. Filtered sunshine is sunlight that will cast a fuzzy but distinct shadow of a hand when the hand is placed 30 cm from a sheet of paper. It is a common misconception that indoor plants do not need sunlight to grow. Only fertilise a plant when it is showing active growth. A plant grown in a shady area will not exhibit much growth and any fertiliser added is wasted. Any accumulation of excess fertiliser can potentially harm the plant as well.