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My Vertical Garden Wall


Friday, July 30, 2010

Blooming Amaryllis in the Tropical.

Do you have a pot of Amaryllis plant that never seemed to flower for years?
Have you seen any sitting by the corner of your garden, forgotten for ages and you really can't remember how the flower looked like?
Wondered how the bloomed ever looked like when somehow hands over the bulb giving up on them, and taking them thinking that one day - just one day - luck will be at your side and you might just perhaps enjoy the bloom one day?

Well, this is my side of the story with the Amaryllis flower.
I have been keeping them for years and never once saw any bloomed. All the more some of my gardener friends passed me their bulbs giving up hope in seeing their blooms too.
The closest bulb blooms that I ever got to enjoy are those rainlilies but that's it.

And so, the experiment goes - I had tried few different methods:
The first was the trimming off all the leaves just above the crown.
This worked exclusively for the Rainlilies but was not successful for the rest of the other types.

Then the 2nd experiment was giving them a heavy dose of organic fertilisers.
Still nothing happened except for their beautiful boring leaves, apparently there were little bulbs sprouting from the main bulb.
(I want flowers not offsprings!!!)

And so I went with the 3rd. uprooting all of them, turning over the soil and replanting them - removing all the little offspring and adding more soil and fertiliser. I thought just probably when they go through the process of uproot and replanting - the shock might just cause them to bloom.
Few months passed and nothing happen.

By luck, I chanced to come across a gardener who put in details about forcing the Amaryllis bulb.
Imagine the joy that I had in getting them to bloom!

I must thank Ha Xuan from Veitnam (Tuysonvien - Where I Garden)
for the force blooming details.
You can click the link (name above) for more details for this information.

If you have a pot of Amaryllis bulb in the tropical region and they never seemed to flower for ages, you can force bloom them with this simple process:

1) Before selecting the bulbs for the processing, inspect that they have at least 6 healthy leaves and must not have bloomed for the last 10 months.

2) The whole process may take around 4 months, if you would like to have these blooms appear during a festive season like Christmas or Weddings - you can start prepare them 4 months ahead to get these blooms appear.

3) Dig out the bulb from the soil or pot. Make sure you don't damage the roots in the process. (note: its better to plant it in a pot as when required all you have to do is overturn the pot and knock out the soil carefully, this way - you can shake off the soil with minimum or no damage to the bulb and roots)

4) Cut off all the foliage leaving a "neck" of about 3cm above the bulb.
(Again alternatively, you may also choose to leave the whole plant from the soil and let the foliage to dry up naturally - that way all the nutrients will be stored back to the bulb but this may take another few weeks and sometimes months for them to dry up)

5) Wash off all the dirt from the bulb and hang it upside down, in the shade to dry for 1 week.
(picture below)

The ones above are Blood Lily - not successful with this process
(well, I have to try it and see if it works right?)

6) After 1 week, wrap all the bulb in newspaper and place it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 8 weeks. Remember to mark the newspaper with the date you wrap the bulb so you remember. Also, don't store any fruit in the fridge during this time lest the bulb can be damaged by the gas from the ripening fruit.
Do check the bulbs time to time, (like once a week) sometimes the newspaper may turn soggy and may rot the bulb. You may have to transfer them to a new set of wrapping. I had done this couple of times. (And please make sure you wrap with with several pieces of paper - one big piece won't do)

7) Finally take out the bulbs after 8 weeks, cut off all the dried roots but leave out the fresh ones.
(I had placed them for 3 months due to lack of time to tend on them)
You may have to start collecting all the little bottles to hold the bulb (during the 8 week period)
8) Place the bulb just rightly above the rim of the bottle but not let the water to soak on the base of the bulb. you may need to be cautious on this as totally submerging the bulb in water may cause bulb rot and all your effort is lost. So, do check on the level of the water after an hour later as strangely as it might appear to be - the level change time to time.

9) You can leave the roots on water from 1 - 3 days. Better keep it in a day at most.
These are in water for 3 days. (this was my problem with time management)
10) Once this is done - plant them in the pots, you need to prepare the soil first before planting.
Make sure that the soil is moist but not wet & soggy. Plant the bulb 1/3 buried on the soil but 2/3 exposed. Do not water for another 2-3 days but lightly keep the soil moist and place the pot in a shaded area.
11) Start watering (again sparingly) when you see new sprouts of leaflet appearing from the centre of the bulb. Also you will notice that the bulb may just shoot out the flowerscape from the side of the bulb. (you can notice it in the pic. below)
12) Once this progress takes place, transfer the pot from the shady area to a brighter location.
This process may take within another month.

These are my bloodlily bulbs - they didn't bloom in this process.
Well, it was another trial experiment.
These are too young and small bulbs (plantlets and off shoots from the main bulbs)
I had kept them here until they grow bigger for the process.
(notice most of them have only one leaf or two - these are not successful for force blooming)
Notice the flowerscape without their leaves?
I'm so excited everyday in seeing their progress.

Can you see the leafscape in the centre and the flowerscape coming out from the sides?
These pictures taken after few weeks, 3 flowerscapes appeared from the whole process, others are still dormant.

Finally this one bloomed yesterday. I took these picture using the handphone camera, by the time I reach home - I was getting dark.
Finally after all these years - I got the chance to enjoy the bloom. Never dream this was possible.
I guess this "force blooming" is necessary for those who are having it in the tropical climate for they do not go through the natural process of the four season here.
I got another 2 more flowerscape to bloom and not very sure how they are going to look like.
(Just to inform you - I have collected a lot of these bulb from many friends who had given up on them, I'm hoping that all of these bulb are different from each other)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ghost Story: The Banana Ghost Tree


 I was sending my wife to work and spotted these dwarf banana growing freely along the roadside. I was so tempted to uproot few of them and plant them in my garden. And when I mean tempted - I could literally just do it in a few seconds. These plant are barely not taller than a meter high. And being banana plant -their roots are not that deep. 
But.... (yes, there is a but here) 

I just didn't feel right.. 

What could possibly stop you from taking something that is freely growing wild by the street-side?
All you know, one day a grass cutter is going to come any day and chop-off the whole thing in one morning. I had contemplate upon this thought almost everyday, I guess its more than a month now. 

These bananas are gloriously blooming fervently frequently with gracious bouquets. 
Yet.. I felt something so wrong... 
Have you ever felt a sensing.. like a weird feeling that some plants are forbidden?

Strange as it might have been, somehow sounds like:
I'm a person who don't believe in these folklore - all the more, I make a point to prove the matter wrong. Often times, I dare because I believe that no harm can come to those who are pure hearted.

However, there were many tales and many "No-No's" forbidden coming from my relatives and few friends, 

For example: 
Don't garden in the night, 
Don't disturb the fragrant flowering plants especially at night (Don't pick them)
Don't pluck / pick or cut the Jasmine at Midnight..

Somehow, I didn't feel all these warning as a threat, rather its for the faint hearted who chose to believe and feel confident in what they believe is true... sort of like a heirloom garden stories brought down throughout the generations (perhaps - I may be wrong)

Coming back to the banana's story... 
Really this one is one of a kind, small - cute and easy flowering. Yet, there is a great sensing of "forbidden-ness" written all over it. 

Every time I change my mind and when I arrive here to take it... my heart races and my "senses" give a red alert sign - like there is a fierce dog watching and waiting to pounce or that feeling that you get when you see a swamp of red ants! 

 I remember taking the picture upfront. But the picture is (missing!!!) Its a picture of an abandon house which really look very eerie. From the background you can note that these banana plant had somehow had crawled from the premises to the roadside. 

 Again - strange. There is so many thing wrong with the picture of this house. 
(but I spare you the eerie-ness) OK - so what's is the deal here. 

I ask you this questions: Would you dare take this plant? 
Would you go against your inner senses and take this plant?  
Share me your thought on this matter. 
Really appreciate another gardener's thought on this matter.


 I guess I have not mentioned few things concerning this topic, probably its very much sounds like an urban legend or perhaps a folklore ghost story. I'm actually running out of words in order to bring my storyline here - keeping it interesting and the same time factual. 

 I'll begin my story by mentioning that there is a belief among the old folks and that few generations before that concerning spiritual things that its believed that spiritual beings do reside in trees. And above all specifically few special trees that one have to be watch out for as they are more sensitive and prone to these kind of matters. Failing to follow the culture will lead to a series of problems, often times it would appear as disturbance, ill health and in worst case scenario - possession. 

 I had asked around casually and chanced to hear a real life account concerning a banana ghost story. This story belongs to an old man whose mother loved gambling and somehow she chanced herself into some dark arts to get the prediction for the lottery that is to strike. She struck a needle upon a banana tree and strung it with a string and pull it all the way to her bedroom. Apparently she had a dream or vision of a very beautiful female spirit being and she gave a favor for whoever ask of her. And his mother did strike the lottery and won the cash prize. 

But eventually his mother got greedy and did the same thing over and over again until one day she had gone mad. Now, this is a true story based on the account of his life story. And his advice, yes - do grow a banana tree, do tend the tree and enjoy the fruits and its yield. 

But keep this strictly gardening & that's it. Nothing less and nothing more. This is another similar story line concerning a Banana Ghost Tree, its funny though the way the movie is taken, but the details of summoning is somehow similar to this videoclip.


1) When all things feels strange -Always Trust Your Instincts - it would be your best decision maker.

2) Ask Permission before Taking - You will never know it may belong to the owner / gardener or perhaps watching you from a far. It is always wise to look and ask around to make sure whether the plant belongs to somebody before collecting them.

3) Don't Play the Fool with Banana Trees especially at Night.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Begonia Rules!!!

After the period where the dinosaurs once ruled, the earth was filled with ferns and so it happened to my garden when the reign of the ferns fall short of its glory. It happened when I decided to reduce all the evergreens into coloured ones and the best candidate that fit the bill was begonia. I had sold all of my ruffle ferns except two pots hanging by the roof corners and most of my maiden hair ferns died due to the change of weather - they seemed to be a very sensitive plant. While these were going on with the ferns, the begonias decided to expand their territory.

And so the champions:
1) Black Velvet Begonia. (1st pic)
2) Cane Begonia (2nd & 3rd pic)

My Black Velvet Begonia had grown very huge and for some strange reason the stem started to rot by the base, and the poor plant just barely survive dangling by the rotted base. I had re-set the whole thing but they didn't rejuvenate back to the former glory, most of them shrink and died. And so I have 2 - 3 hanging pots of it compared to the earlier 5 - 6 ones.

Those extra empty pots where fitted with my flame violets - they are doing well so far.

The Cane Begonia never seemed to stop growing, it had already reached to my roof.
I'm still contemplating whether to trim it down or leave it and see what happens.

These are known as Trailing Watermelon Begonia.
They are not actually from a begonia family. One thing for sure, they are really drought resistant. I found that the soil was as hard as dried clay but this survivor seemed to thrive in that condition. (in comparison with coleus which all of it had dried up)
And so I have decided officially to plant this one at this region, they seemed to do so well and look pretty with the watermelon coloured leaves. Also found that False Philodendron (Peperomia Scandens) does well too in this condition.
Its also due to my lack of interest in watering these plants and the whole row of hanging plants suffered and died. And one of the casualty was the curled leaf begonia - now, its considered extinct from my garden.

The same plant: Trailing Watermelon Begonia
They change colour when exposed with too much sunlight.
This one known as Martin Mystery Begonia
One of the rescued plants which I had collected way back many months ago. The growth progress was very slow and it really took a lot of patience and care for it to arrive to this stage.
I really thought this one is not going to survive.

This is another type of Cane Begonia. It got spots.
Also rescued and I really thought its not going to make it when I saw the whole plant dying in stages, somehow it had managed well and progressing.
Finally these are the extinct ones. I really don't know why they never seemed to make it in my garden. This one (top) was given to me by my mum. She got few in her garden and she too don't understand how this one grows - as she mentioned, this one is very unpredictable.
I got the other one (below) from a nursery and bargain it for few dollars. I tried to revive by cuttings and feeding but it just won't grow, finally the whole thing died in stages.Guess not all begonia behaves well. As for now - I'm very certain that there are some which are very hardy and there are some which are extremely sensitive.
Also my Wax Begonia and slowly died and never recovered. I have collected their seeds and probably sow them towards September when the weather is most cold and wetter. They seemed to grow very well by the drain side. Probably will experiment on this when I really have the time.
And so before you make your pick in getting your begonias, always choose a hardy one. You will not regret as you can propagate more by cuttings in your garden.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Arrangment

These are the update of my garden. I had set the rescued orchid in this pot and positioned it here together with my Chinese Croton and Aluminium plant. I had trimmed off all the burnt and dried leaves (you can note the spiked short leaves)

My Palm Orchid is still surviving - still waiting for the next bloom. I'm contemplating of resetting this pot (replanting the whole plant into few pots) Still wondering if its a good idea. Of course, time is another anticipated issue.

I have manage to plant the spotted begonia here too, I think its known as Angel Wing Begonia. It look very poise with the rest of the plants. Don't you think so?

This is my collection of Golden Hanni together with the Purple Queen Plant. They seemed to compliment very well with their opposite colours.

I forgot to mention that I had reset my garden again. I didn't like the earlier setting as its not accessible for easy watering and the snails and slugs were having jolly good time feasting on all my plants. My Dumbcane plants suffered the most - it had literally became a cheese leaved plant with so many holes in the leaves that I have to cut off all of them leaving just the stalk.
I had placed two pots of my Winter Jasmine Plant which I had planted it by seeds. It had really grown tall - still waiting for the flower to bloom.

Not much of changes here except for the resetting of the stones and pebbles. The Cane Begonia had grown taller than me this time reaching for the roof. I have decided to plant more Flame Violets to attract more sunbirds - they usually come for their nectar.

I had minimise all my ferns and just have these hanging at the tip of my roof top. I guess too many green plants are a little boring in my very limited spaced garden.

This is how it was earlier before the new arrangement. Most of the plants had crawled out from the pots and had become leggy. The Coleus plant had become so matured that it may not survive for another month. I had given away some of my plants to my office mates who were very eager to get them in their garden.
Right now, there is a strong sense of satisfaction and a feeling of zeal returned to realise that my garden is back to its original sense of worth. Seemed to made some positive effect on me as I find myself very much eager to water and watch the progress.
I still have a lot of touch up to do, but its really OK now as the major once are already completed.

About Me

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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