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Monday, September 30, 2019

ZZ Plant - Best Indoor Plants

I would like to introduce a New Series on Indoor Plants
and hope to come up with 10 Best Indoor Plants for Beginners.

And this is one of the most easiest to begin with.
It is fairly impossible to kill this plant. (If you do - I should congratulate you for it)
Let me introduce this plant - Zamioculcas zamifolia also known as ZZ Plant.

The most basic (Care-free plant) that thrives on 2 matters:
It tolerates very low light environment
( you can practically put it in a corner and forget about it)

It can handle extreme less infrequent watering regime.
Word of caution:
Too much water can cause rot to the root-ball, so its more on the dry / neglect type.
This plant is NOT the type that you water everyday unless the medium is fast draining.

It does appear like a plastic plant,
the foliage are glossy and has a swollen thick base like stem.
They are super slow growing plant - so do note that they will ages to grow.

A great plus point about this plant is that this one is a natural air purifier. 
That comes with another factor: - when it absorbs all the poison from the air,
these are considered poisonous if consumed.

When this plant was introduced to the market, It was sold with a very high price.
I know these were considered highly priced:
often sold as a lucky plant price spanning with a good luck No:8.

Meaning: Its was sold like RM88.00 or RM188.00 more No:8 were attached to it
and a novelty plant during the Chinese New Year Festival

Then came a Jump Scare:
Some tabloid newspaper & magazine had started a rumor saying this plant causes cancer.
Followed together with the panic posting in social media about this rumor
had caused a lot people started throwing out this plant out of their door (literally)

I would see this plant in pots abandoned in sun and rain.
Burned, turning yellow and often rot due to heavy exposure to rain.
Its a sad predicament for a highly priced plant suddenly lost its value. 

The Rumor:
Someone had experience sniffing the flower.
The supposed inflorescence bears pollen or the fragrance had caused cancer to the gardener. Based on that particular gardener, hence he / she wanted to warn everybody to get rid of this plant, stating - its better to safe than sorry.

I must emphasize that this plant is indeed toxic and its poisonous if consumed.
But aren't most ornament plants toxic?

What I want to emphasize is that plants have their reasons to be toxic.
Nature intended that way:

Their composition element is base due to deter animals & insect from eating their foliage. Hence - that's why the poison (they are not vegetables)

Another thing, I realized that gardening is not for the soft-hearted.
It's dangerous and a gardener may have to face many challenges.

One may have to face all the creepy crawlies, reptiles and wild life.
Face the insect world head on: Bees, Wasp, Hornets, Scorpions, Spiders & Centipede.
I'm pretty sure some had wage war with Ants and other vermin & pest.

With all been said above.
I think ZZ plant is much easier compared to other dangerous plants.

I must say that this genes is excellent for poor soil medium area.
Also perfect for stone gardening theme - the Xeriscape Garden Theme or Landscaping.


Do not place this plant near you (like at the dining table / work table)

Put it far where you can see and enjoy looking at the beauty but (see no touch) location.

Keep it far from children & pets or any chance of accidentally brushing or bruising the plant.

And wash your hands if you handle this plant when watering or touching it.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Best Way to Grow Begonia - Video (Part 2)

This is the continuation of the video from Part 1 (Best Way to Grow Begonia)

There is a detailed step by step on how set this up using mop wick:
Check my link below


 Part 2
A picture worth a thousand words... a video a million.
I hope this gives you a nice viewing pleasure of how raw and fresh these begonias behave in this mop wick set-up experiment.

Thanks to Bmb Albert from Singapore who had guided me step by step for setting up.
With many of his valuable insight, advise and direction;
 I was able to accomplish this in my little garden.

All credit goes to him.
Thank you Albert.

Best Way to Grow Begonia - Video (Part 1)

This is the Result after introducing them in this mop wick style in few weeks:

For more info on how to set-up the begonia :
Check on my link below

A picture worth a thousand words... a video a million.
I hope this gives you a nice viewing pleasure of how raw and fresh these begonias behave in this mop wick set-up experiment.

Thanks to Bmb Albert from Singapore who had guided me step by step for setting up.
With many of his valuable insight, advise and direction;
 I was able to accomplish this in my little garden.

All credit goes to him.
Thank you Albert.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Best Way to Grow Begonia using Leaf Cutting

For detailed step by step direction
please check on my link below on getting the stuff ready:

Instead of using the whole root ball,
You can use the leaf cutting and poke in between the mop wick medium.
It will take about a month for the leaf to sprout out new plant-let.
Sometimes, the leaf might rot or dried off - the ones that don't grows.

What I want to mention is the countless trials and error of planting them using cocopeat, perlite, rooting in water and a few others - all but failed except this one.

Don't get me wrong, They appear to grow but for some reason the transition between the propagating medium and the replanting them to a soil medium however proof fatal for most specimen.

I almost gave up until I was introduced to this idea.
This is the proof of the pudding - sort of to say on the timeline of progress of success:


This is the timeline of my begonia experiment with mop wick with leaf propagation.
I had notice that the hardy ones then to grow really well compared to the sensitive ones.

Here, you will notice the growth of the Begonia Rex dormant Rhizome
and how it had stabilize and grown to maturity.

Unlike in the basket,
this one is placed on a cement brick with a slab resting above the water container with the mop wick extended inside it.

I notice the leaves tend to grow bigger at every new leaf sprout.

I had never seen such stable progress with Rex Begonias grown in soil medium as this.
Normally, I face them going dormant or dead after few weeks.

The set back is they are sensitive to disturbance.
I had once had a trouble when a rodent disturbed this mop wick set up
and the plant showed sign of distress.
Some of the growing foliage were knocked off
and did not recover even though the roots were fully formed.

Another important Note:
The Mop Wick is to be considered as a permanent medium,
not to be transferred back to any other medium
or the plant goes through shock, dormancy or death.

I thought that this was a in between transition
for the begonia to stabilize, grow and to be replanted.
I took out the rhizome from the mop wick and
planted in a soil medium - it had a slow death:
It started to loose its leaves and went through shock and the rhizome dead.

I found while washing and cleaning the mop wick
- it was full of root fibers all over entwined between the wick fiber.
Sort of they had incorporated together into one root-ball.

So it is important that they must be placed in a location that nothing disturbs their growth progress.


As I had mentioned earlier that I had removed the plant and replanted in a soil medium but the begonia succumb to slow death. However I started a new experiment in using leaf cuttings and this was the results:


I had reset and redone this all over again as I noticed the mop-wick started to fall under it's own weight without any basket to hold them. This was a big challenge as new cuttings and leaf were fragile and it had start falling off from the mop-wick and some didn't fair well & succumbed to rot.

After redoing it - they seemed to be very stable and had observed some good progress in growth.
Here, I used a plastic basket to hold the mop wick.

Also, you will note the new plant-let growth progress shown here:

Here it's a new set-up where it does a fairly balanced indirect sunlight in this spot.
I had used an aquarium as my water reservoir with guppies to make sure there is no mosquito infestation.

The mop wick is actually on a tray with slight openings where I can push in the mop-wick through them to have a good water flow from top to bottom. I needed to check on this few days to see whether the leaves are well hydrated. You will know by touching the leaves to determine the firmness of the leaves. If it is too soft or floppy - it means not enough water circulation around the mop-wick system.

I also had added Episcia in this experiment and found that they too are compatible and fair well in this set-up.

These are the new growth formation of plant-lets appearing from the leaf cuttings.
It took about few months and so it does requires patience to see any of this progress.

I had also removed the dried / dead leaf cuttings when rot appears.

I had noted that Begonia Chivalry seemed to be very successful in growth in this mention.
However Begonia 'Jive' didn't have the same respond - most of the leaves had succumb to rot.

I had redone this again so that I can maximize the space and have more condensed mop-wick.
I wanted to show how this works over time (few months) How it is so practical and easy for propagation.

Begonia Common Names and Images

Here is the link where I had put together a list of all the begonias that I had come across. A database of all the different types & their characteristics. Please click on the link on the title above for the post.

How to Grow Rex Begonia - Best Method - Step by Step

How to Grow and Cultivate Begonia:

How to Propagate Begonia:

Best Method - Step by Step (in pictures)

After many many countless trial and error.
In fact more killing and less survival of these begonias.
When I'm almost gave up on them, I found the most unconventional way of growing them.

The idea is far mind boggling and I must admit that
I tried few times and failed miserably.
Finally I got this time right and I'm sharing
this exclusive secret of how to grow these begonias.

All credit goes to Bmb Albert from Singapore.
Without his advise and directive,
it would had been another failed attempt and me given up on begonias.

So here it is, Introducing:
Begonias in Wick Medium 

Begonia Fireworks doing so well in the wick medium
where it doesn't become floppy or burned rather well maintained and stable in set-up.

Here, I'm going to show you how I had set it up
Step by Step:

First get the materials - you will need:

1) Mop Wick.
(remove other matters, just use the mop wick only)

I  had tried trimmed thin cloth material:
It appeared fine for few weeks but the cloth started to dis-integrate and harbor fungus.
The begonia too rotted.
So, I would rather caution you not to try with cloth material unless you want to experiment with something that can handle with water in long term.

a) Soak the mop wick overnight and wash, rinse and repeat 2 -3 days if possible.
Let the wick fully soak in a bucket of water
as the wick tend to expand more fully when it fully soaked.

Remove the soaked water, squish off the remain water and wash again for few times.
Wash few times to remove whatever chemical & bleaching residue on the yarn or cotton fibers.
You will notice a white dye clouded in the soaked water.
Dispose the water and repeat few times until the soaked water is appears without any dye stain or chemicals.

2) A Basket.

To hold the mop wick in place,
you can use any sturdy plastic container as long as it drains out easily and not hold water.
Do not use any organic woven basket that might rot over time.

3) A Water Container.

The holding water must be clean and clear,
you can put in aquatic plants or fish to deter mosquito breeding from the water container.

Do get these things ready in few days ahead before setting or removing the begonias from the soil medium.

4) Carefully Remove the Soil Medium from the Root-ball.

I used chopstick to comb excess medium in between the root fiber and later dip and carefully shake off whatever soil residue from the root fiber.

It will take a lot of work and patience
- so do take consideration of the time needed to set this up.

After few dips and you noticed that the root-ball is clear from fine peat material,
its ready for the next step.
There might be some fine little pieces of coco-peat or soil / medium material lodged in between the tight root ball. It's fine to leave them as your intention is to remove as much as possible.

5) Roll the Mop Wick around the Root Ball.

Roll the mop wick carefully around the root ball and carefully place the begonia inside the basket with some of the strands extending out into the water container.

6) Arrange the Composition.

Arrange accordingly based on your preferred colors and height of the begonias.
Carefully lay rolled mop wick around the begonia root-ball
so that its almost tight and stable as it would sit comfortably inside the basket
with few stands extending into the water container.
(not too tight and not to loose as it might fall off)

7) Roll the Broken Foliage Pieces Together.

You can also use a singular leaf for new propagation
but the new growth may take few weeks and it open for possibilities
that the leaf may or may not survive. 50-50 chances.

But it is better than throwing them away and the chances of new plant-let appearing is greater than the ones rooted in water or other mediums.

8) Check the Water Level in the Container.

Do check that the wick drops into the water container long enough that it touches
 for the water to be constantly in flow with the begonia root ball.

Once I had taken for granted and the wick was dangling
without touching the water and the plant was dehydrated.

This is how it looks like.
Do make sure that you drop few wicks into the water if you have a lot of begonias drinking from a small holder.

9) Check the Firmness in the Begonia Leaves.

Continue to observe twice a day in a weeks duration.
Check the firmness of the leaves:
If it is firm and strong - then the begonia is actually doing fine.
If it is floppy then the begonia is thirsty - drop a few more strands into the water.

10) Do not Disturb the Root-ball in the Mop Wick.

Another note is that it is not advisable to remove the mop wick after the roots had stabilize. The roots tend to interconnect with the wick and hence it creates a network of roots all over.

Removing them from the wick and planting them back into a soil medium will throw the begonia into a shock, making them dormant or worse - the plant suffers and dies.

Do place these set-up in a bright shaded area.
They can handle water poured or sprayed on them and also some dose of sunlight upon the foliage depending on the type of begonia.
You can also use foliage fertilizer sprayed weekly on the leaves and they will do just great.

Once the plant had stabilized, it will grow majestically.


1) The medium will always remain moist because of the mop wick.

2) The mop wick surface will always remain cool at around 23°C

3) The begonia roots love the air movements in the mop wick because of the air-gaps in-between the mop materials.

4) The begonia roots will consistently be receiving nutrition from the mop materials due to the wick absorption which replaces any  loss moisture that had being dehydrated by wind etc.

5) Due to the condition of the medium used instead of soil, You don't have to be worried about watering them and this free you from the daily watering hassles.
You only need to watch the water reservoir and to refill water when the water level drops.

6) Your begonia will not be over or under water with this wick material system.

7) The surrounding area will be having good humidity which begonias love to grow in it.

8) Those begonias which were grown in wick material will able to withstand the hot weather especially during a hot dry day for a longer time without getting its leaf burned.

Just to list out the advantages that you will notice when you set the begonias in this method.
Do share with me when you need more information or your experience in this set-up.


As you can see, these begonias are in this set in 3 months duration. 
I have slowly adding layers of begonias here to see how they fair in a condensed, 
tight situation in the root-ball set-up and find it very satisfactory on their growth progress.

This is my Step by Step Method of Growing Begonia using Mopwick system.  (Video)
I have shown here my method an style on how I arrange them in my set-up.

The Material required:

1) Mopwick- washed, soaked and rinsed for few days to a week - water changed daily.

2) Water Container to hold the water - also raring fish to control mosquito from breeding

3) Plastic Basket to hold the mopwick and Begonia root ball

4) A Slab or a Support pieced to hold the Basket

5) A Begonia Plant - Soil medium removed & washed root ball

 Basically I roll the root ball with the mopwick and place them carefully inside the basket an array them with the mop stand falling inside the water body. Finding the right balance of moisture flow in the system as not too wet or not too dry to support the root growth system.

 Also in Part 2 Where I had set another set-up using bricks in a open aquatic pot with mop strand falling over. Both system works well.

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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Do put your queries on the contact form above and I will come back to you ASAP via e-mail. Also I'm open for any business / advertisement proposals / magazine articles / product sampling and sharing personal product experiences here in my blog. Also for specific plant queries where you need to send pictures for free consultation and plant help and aid.

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