Plant care tips: Grass Orchid, Showy Medinilla, Coleus and ZZ Plant
This plant (pictured), which I found discarded, has small flowers that look like orchids. What is it and how do I care for it?
The plant is an orchid botanically known as Eulophia graminea. It has common names such as Grass Orchid and Bawang Hantu. Often, it sprouts from new soil that has been brought in to fill development sites.
The plant is a terrestrial orchid species and prefers to grow in a sunny location with direct sunlight. At home, you can grow it in a pot with well-drained and moisture-retentive soil.
This plant (pictured), which I bought a few weeks ago, has been shedding its leaves and looks like it is dying. What is it and how do I care for it?
The Showy Medinilla – botanically known as Medinilla magnifica – is an epiphyte and grows on tree branches.
Its roots need to be kept moist at all times and should never dry out. Use a growing mix that is rich in organic matter, aerated and well- drained.
The plant prefers to grow in semi-shade, with at least four hours of filtered sunlight. Keep it away from constant drying winds.
Your picture suggests that your plant may have been allowed to dry out, deprived of water for a long time or exposed to excessive sunlight or wind.
How do I grow this plant (pictured)? It wilted a month after I bought it from a nursery. What happened?
The plant is botanically known as Plectranthus scutellarioides or better known as the Coleus plant. There are many cultivars to choose from, each with varying leaf shapes and colours.
For healthy growth and vivid foliage colour, it needs at least six hours of direct sunlight. It does not tolerate shade well.
The soil should be kept moist at all times, and frequent watering may be required if plants are grown in a small pot and under hot weather. Opt for well-draining soil that does not have heavy clay.
The plant's stems tend to rot easily if it is not grown in the right conditions.
Tip: Nectar in Blue Butterfly Bush (pictured) attracts butterflies
The Blue Butterfly Bush, which is known botanically as Rotheca myricoides "Ugandense", is a shrub.
It has blue flowers that resemble butterflies in flight.
This plant attracts butterflies to the garden because of the nectar in its flowers.
It grows fast and is not difficult to cultivate. It needs full sunlight to thrive as well as fertile, well-draining and moist soil.
Is the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (pictured) toxic and cancer-causing?
Zamioculcas zamiifolia, commonly known as the Zanzibar Gem or ZZ Plant, is a popular plant for Chinese New Year. There has been no scientific studies that support your claim. There are other false reports that the plant releases toxins into the air or soil.
The Zamioculcas zamiifolia belongs to the same plant family (Araceae) as the edible yam and they are known to have minute crystals called calcium oxalate in them.
These crystals can cause skin irritation. Plant parts and sap should never come in contact with sensitive mucous membranes on the body.
Many other common houseplants, such as the Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia), Elephant Ear (Alocasia macrorrhizos) and Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum), belong to the same plant family and share the same characteristics.