Root awakening: Linden plants need sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive, Home & Design News & Top Stories

Linden plants need sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive

I usually get linden plants after the Chinese New Year holiday. However, it is troublesome to get them to continue blooming and bearing fruit. What are the plants missing? Do I prune them after each fruiting? And what is the name of the large linden plant? Leaves and fruits also keep falling off.

Lynne Teo

The linden plants appear to be in poor health. Note that such plants do best under direct sunlight for at least six hours a day. If the plants are growing in a shady corner, they tend to lose strength and gradually decrease.

The soil should be well drained, as citrus fruits generally don’t like wet feet. Check whether the growing medium is still suitable for the plants. Over time, depending on the composition, some growing media break and settle. This results in a growing mix that has compacted and can hold too much water.

You can take the plants out and carefully peel away the outer layer of the used media, then repot them with a well-drained mixture that has more gritty materials in it.

The fruit fall can be traced back to plant stress from too much or too little water as well as to an infestation by fruit flies. Usually the plant does not need pruning after fruiting.

As for the identity of the large linden plant, it could be a lime variety (Citrus × microcarpa). Exact identification can be difficult because there are many varieties and many look similar.

Soursop tree lacks nutrients

PHOTO: LIM JOO JOON

My soursop tree is around three and a half years old. About six months ago the leaves turned yellowish green and new branches stopped growing. But it has many flowers, although none have developed into fruits. I used to prune the plant regularly to use the leaves to make tea, and new branches would grow after a few weeks.

Lim Joo Joon

The soursop tree shows generalized yellowing, suggesting that it may be lacking nitrogen. Did you fertilize the tree?

It is not clear from the picture how your plant is grown.

Make sure that it is not grown in compacted and poorly drained soil in the soil. Compacted soils can be removed over time by mulching and forking the surface soil, but be careful not to damage the roots.

Waterlogging can be difficult to correct if the plant is growing in deep soils. Plus, do not transplant sauerkraut trees well. In this case, you may want to plant new plants and grow them in a more suitable location.

If the plant is grown in a pot, its roots may have filled the container and nutrients have been depleted. Water stress can also easily occur due to the small volume of soil. Consider moving the plant to a larger container or growing it in the ground.

Fukien Tea Tree is a popular bonsai candidate

This plant grew in my flower pot. I had pruned the branches that had grown, but it continues to grow. What kind of plant is it and is it safe to keep?

Sarojani Rethnavelu


PHOTO: SAROJANI RETHNAVELU

The plant is commonly known as the Fukien tea tree. Its botanical name is Ehretia microphylla. On site, this plant is often used as a bonsai candidate where it is trained into a miniature tree in artistic form.

You can find it spontaneously in your garden beds or flower pots as its seeds are likely to be spread by birds that ingest its small red fruits.

It grows best in direct sun, but can also tolerate filtered sunlight. Its leaves are reportedly used in tea making and have medicinal uses as well. Its red fruits are said to be edible.

Ming Aralia can be propagated by cuttings


PHOTO: MERANDA CHIA

I received this plant about 1 1/2 years ago. It was then between 7cm and 10cm tall, but has now grown to about 1m and looks like a Christmas tree. Can I cut off the stem to let it grow back?

Meranda Chia

The plant is one of the many varieties of Polyscias fruticosa, commonly known as Ming Aralia. With the Christmas holidays approaching, why not give some support by propping it up with a bamboo pole and decorating it with lights and decorations?

If this plant has gotten too big, you can trim it back. The resulting cut stalk can be portioned into lengths of 10 cm. These can be planted in smaller pots so they can take root and they will grow into new plants.

The Ming Aralia can grow under both direct and filtered sunlight. It’s also a hardy plant for the home garden.

Bitter gourd plant infested with disease


PHOTO: RITA TONG

I notice tiny yellow spots on the leaves of my bitter gourd plant. Are these pests or do they indicate that the plant is lacking nutrients? If so, what nutrients should I feed it?

Rita Tong |

The yellow spots could be a fungal disease caused by shady or rainy conditions.

Make sure your plant is grown under direct sunlight – the lack of light can cause plants to weaken and become prone to disease. A dense and shady canopy will be conducive to pathogenic organisms to thrive and infect a weaker plant. Also, give your plant enough air circulation so that the leaves are dry.

Rainy conditions can cause illness from rain damage as well as prevailing humid conditions with a lack of sunlight. Hence, it is best to plan for growing your plants during the drier season to reduce the incidence of disease.

You can prune the leaves with yellow spots. There is no need to feed the plant nutrients.

Answers from Dr. Wilson Wong, an NParks Certified Practicing Gardener, Park Manager, and ISA Certified Arborist. He is the founder of Green Culture Singapore and Associate Professor (Food Science & Technology) at the National University of Singapore.

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