Q: Can I grow lavender in Singapore? What other scented plants can I grow besides jasmine? – Theresa Tan
It is possible to grow lavender from seeds, but it is easier to buy potted lavender plants from large local nurseries here.
However, the potted plants here are often raised in a moisture-retentive growing media.
Plants left in this media often decline over time because of Singapore's overly moist and humid climate. Some plants come from the Mediterranean climate, which is drier and, at times, cooler.
To ensure that your lavender plant has a higher chance of survival, take stem-cuttings from the original pot and root them in coarse aquarium gravel. The rooted cuttings can then be planted in a well-drained mix made up of burnt earth, pumice and other gritty materials.
The plants should get at least four hours of direct sunlight and should be shielded from the rain.
Lavender plants can flower in Singapore, but die easily during the cloudy and wet season.
Other fragrant shrubs that can be grown more easily include sweet almond bush, dwarf ylang ylang, "Min-A- Min" murraya and shui mei (Wrightia religiosa).
These shrubs are best planted in the ground outdoors in well- drained soil and under direct sunlight.
Adapted from The Straits Times. Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore (www.greenculturesg.com). He is also an NParks-certified park manager.