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The hippeastrum reticulatum (var striatifolium) bulbs flowered again. This is the 2nd time! (See previous entry.) This time round, 3 flowers on the same stalk bloomed first, followed by a solitary one some days later. Observe:

Now for the sad news. I gave my soursop tree away. Soursoppy (as I endearingly like to call it) had been with me for several years now. I grew it from a seed I found in my soursop dessert. It had grown to about 1.5 metres in height and had reached the ceiling and was bending over, because I placed it on my bay window.
Soursoppy is now with a friend who loves gardening too. At last check, Soursoppy was doing well.
I, of course, could not bear to let Soursoppy go, but I knew that if it stayed with me, it would have died. It needed a new, bigger home fast! And of course, sunlight! I could not provide Soursoppy with these, and so I knew I had to - like a parent who only wants the best for their child - give it up to a better home. At least, I know for sure that Soursoppy will be in good hands with my friend! May it grow and thrive and bear lots of fruit for him! :)
(Oh, I visited this same friend's garden recently also - you can take a look at some of his plants here. I wish I had a garden too... though it's just as pleasing to visit other people's Edens as well!)
A week ago, my hippeastrum reticulatum (var striatifolium) bulbs suddenly put out a tall shoot, which bloomed into the most beautiful pink-white flowers I'd ever seen. I took pics:
The bulbs had been given to me by one of my ex-students - also a gardening fanatic - about 3+ years ago, when his multiplied. He lived in an apartment too, but had a rooftop garden, so his plants had full sun exposure and were thriving.
I never thought I'd ever see these beauties bloom, since my poor plants grow entirely indoors and barely get few hours of filtered sunlight at most! But these bulbs are very hardy. They've survived periods of drought (read: me in my lazy moments!), and tolerated living in cramped quarters for a long time before I finally divided and repotted them!
The resilience of plants is amazing! To many more years of gardening and growth!
By a strange stroke of fate, I've ended up rearing mealworms now. They're actually quite cute, relatively clean, and boy, do they love their food! I give them scraps from my cooking: raw pumpkin bits (they devour the pumpkin seeds completely!), turnip skins, carrot shavings, hulled oats, etc. Not a trace is left!
Now, if I could just find a way to make them useful for my plants...
And in other news, one of my unidentified flora flowered recently! I cut off one of the flowers and snapped a pic:

I've had this plant for about 3+ years now, and have repotted it once before. It's extremely low maintenance, drought-hardy (I hope it forgives me for the umpteen times I was too lazy to water it!), and beautiful in appearance. I'd just left it in my living room, which gets only snatches of morning sun, and watered it occasionally. Discovering the flowers - many of them - was totally by chance while I was near it one day, as they're not conspicuous at all and blend in with the green/white speckled colour of the leaves!
I should've photographed the plant too so someone could help me identify it. But ahhh, next time perhaps!
 30 jan 12  - A NEW YEAR IS HERE AGAIN
Did some virtual housekeeping today - in the form of updating this site. Added a few new links.
Some time ago I was considering starting a small aquarium because aquarium keeping complements gardening, as the "old water" from the tank each time you clean it can be used to water plants, with good results I'm sure, due to the high nutrient content from fish detritus. I also have several plants - the syngonium, aglaonema, pothos, sansevieria and philodendron to name a few - that can survive entirely (with some even doing better) in water, so having them in an aquarium would be like killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
But of course, I never got down to doing so 'cos I was too lazy. SIGH.
Over the course of the past 2 years, I've also noticed some tiny red worms in the soil of some of my plants. Apparently these cute fellas are supposed to be very useful.
Well, that's all for now folks. Planties and I will continue waiting for the sun and hot season to come back round. No one likes the present dark, damp days. The booklice are multiplying like crazy!
Happy Lunar New Year - here's hoping the Year of the Dragon will herald another year of fruitful plant growing!
...but it needed some time to sink in: a lime butterfly laid a single egg on one of my lime plants, a caterpillar hatched, grew, formed a chrysalis, emerged, and is now a beautiful butterfly roaming free somewhere out there in the world!!! Photos:
This has undoubtedly been the highlight of my foray into gardening thus far. I never thought a butterfly would actually fly into my 6th floor apartment, where my lime plants were being grown in the living room! The lime butterfly's ability to source out lime plants is truly remarkable! I wonder if it would have found me if I had been living a lot higher, like maybe on the 15th floor or something!
Another thing that piqued my interest was how the butterfly chose which plant to lay her egg on. (Lime butterflies only lay a single egg each time.) I have 4 lime plants, and she chose the one that I thought was doing 2nd best out of all the 4. I found that strange initially. (I mean, why not choose the plant that's doing best?) But now it seems that I was wrong! It's been a couple of weeks since her offspring itself became a butterfly and flew off, and the plant I thought was doing best (i.e. the one she didn't choose) is now on the verge of total collapse! Which means that she knew this before I did, otherwise she would have chosen that plant to lay her egg on!
Total respect. Insects - we have a lot to learn from them!
 10 feb 11  - NOT ALL FLORA ARE NICE
I used to think I loved all kinds of plants. I still also like to see myself as an indiscriminate plant lover. But a certain species has really tried my patience. It is the alstonia scholaris, also known locally as the pulai tree. This is a tree with one of the most pungent flowers I've ever encountered in my life. And I have the unfortunate "honour" of smelling these flowers every night whenever the trees near my residence are in bloom. Which is now.
Don't get me wrong - I still like the tree and it is a beautiful sight to behold when it's covered completely by those delicate cream-coloured blossoms. Just that whenever I'm near it when it's flowering, I wish I had an oxygen mask!
Come April, this will be my third year keeping house plants.
It is now the monsoon season - rain almost everyday. I have somewhat mixed feelings about the wetness. On the one hand, growth is much slower during this period, and my plants are practically crying out for more sun, the poor things. Yet on the other hand, I can afford to be somewhat lazier with regards to watering, since it isn't so hot and dry, and soil retains moisture for longer.
When can I have a proper garden, instead of having to confine my beloved plants to tiny, cramped pots?
 15 aug 10  - TAKING STOCK
Thought it was high time for an update, finally. It's been more than 2 years since I got into gardening, and a lot has happened since then. More importantly, let's see what I've learnt:
1) Plants will ALWAYS try to survive
2) Plants don't need as much help as you think they do
3) But please DO WATER them!
4) Desert plants are hardier than anything I've ever known
5) Plants DO respond to positivity and encouragement
6) Plants make the best companions ever
7) Plants give so much more than they take
8) Plants need insects as much as insects need plants
9) If a plant does die, sometimes it's for the better
10) But if a plant WANTS to grow, help it!
11) If a plant appears dead, it most definitely might NOT be!
12) Surprises may emerge from situations that seem hopeless
And probably the most important thing I've discovered, is that a pot with no drainage holes at the bottom is not necessarily bad... It may in fact be better in most cases!
At this point of time, my all-time favourite plants are:
- My aglaonema (silver queen)
- Most cacti and succulents
- Especially the local kalanchoe variety
- syngonium
- foxtail fern
And some which I think aren't that suited to growing in Singapore's climate:
- spider plants
- English ivy
- fittonia
It should be noted too that I've been trying to grow a number of fruit trees. In my apartment, yes. The strawberry I tried growing struggled then finally died - think the climate here just doesn't suit it. The starfruit is still going strong... for now. I seriously have no idea about the jackfruit's future, but don't think it'll last much longer because the poor thing needs much more sunlight than I can provide... And I wonder how long more the oranges will last... And the soursops... As for the limes, I remain optimistic. Custard apple is still a mystery... The grapefruit? Well... =P
Lastly, some recent pics:
And less recent ones:
Plants make such beautiful photos:
Oh, and I added more links.
Some lessons learnt thus far from planting seeds:
1) Don't space them too close together
2) The smaller the seed, the finer the soil has to be
 1 dec 08  - CURSED CRITTERS
Discovered red spider mites on Pitchy today and the anthurium. (Pitchy's my five-month-old pitcher plant and I've grown quite attached to it. It's the only plant I named.) Sprayed both. Am wondering if I should feed Pitchy incidentally - I don't know if those pitchers actually do work. Nevertheless, Pitchy has still managed to put out 2 pups.
And apparently, spider mites do bite.
 28 nov 08  - MINI X'MAS TREE + BUG BITE
I unknowingly bought a chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Elwoodii) or Elwood's pygmy cultivar yesterday. Apparently the plant is mainly meant for decorative use (for the Christmas season) and isn't expected to survive long. It isn't even a tropical plant, being native to temperate regions. Note to self: research before buying!!! I still hope I manage to sustain it for at least a good couple of months though.
On an unrelated note, while handling and watering the plants today I was bitten by an unknown microscopic mite. I could hardly see it, but as I squashed it, a long trail of my own (or its?) blood appeared. Could it have been a chigger mite? Or do spider mites bite too? Bloody pests!
 30 oct 08  - UNLUCKY BAMBOO
My 2nd dracaena sanderiana died today. I am giving up on these plants. I don't understand their needs. They seem super prone to spider mites and are awfully slow growers. I'm sorry.
 3 sep 08  - BYE BYE DAISY
My daisy'd been struggling for months and finally passed away, having succumbed completely to spider mites. Daisies seem particularly prone. This is the 2nd one that's died this way. Daisies are not easy plants.
 23 aug 08  - THIS IS WAR
I have just come to realise how devastating spider mites are and can be. After killing off my bromeliad (pictured below at a time when it was still healthy and glowing) months ago, they have now proceeded to infest many other plants in my place. Because I live in an enclosed area, this makes control very difficult. I've tried spraying, but this harms the plant too - even pesticides that claim to be "plant-friendly". The heck.

 2 aug 08  - PRAYING MANTIS
An adult green praying mantis was on top of my apartment door when I got home (attracted by the splif-leaf philodendron I have growing outside maybe). It looked so cute and healthy I felt like catching it and keeping it as a pet. But I knew I would have difficulty feeding it - how and where would I find prey? So I had to drop that idea. I'm starting to really miss it now.
 20 jul 08  - NOT FOR BEGINNERS
My mom warned me african violets were "not easy" - she had tried growing some many years ago when I was still a child and they'd all died, for reasons still unknown to her. Initially I thought she just didn't know how to care for them because my african violets seemed to be thriving. (Yes, seemed. Sigh.) Then suddenly... they are now both dead and gone. Kids, listen - mom does tend to be right. No more african violets for me.
 26 jun 08  - AFRICAN VIOLET
Took a so-called artistic shot of my purple african violet as it still had one remaining bloom. The mauve one's blossoms have all died off.

 25 may 08  - JUNE BEETLE
Found a June beetle struggling on my living room floor. It was desperately trying to flip itself over. Are they supposed to be "good" or "bad"?

 11 may 08  - SECOND TRY
The anthurium I talked about previously died, rotting from the base of the plant upwards. Overwatering? Perhaps. Well, there's always a first time and mistakes to learn from. I'm trying again - acquired a new anthurium today; let's see how it goes this time round. Will give it oodles of sun but water sparingly.
 6 may 08  - ANTHURIUM WOES
The anthurium isn't doing well. Something's wrong. The flowers shouldn't be dying off so soon - they can last for months...

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