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Welcome - Malaysian Tropical RainForest Garden Blog.


Here is where I share all my tropical garden design, concepts, themes & experiences, secrets and tips in gardening, plant care, my plant discoveries, experiments of my trials & errors.

I'm blessed with the Hot & Wet Tropical Climate and my endeavour with Tropical Garden & Rare, Exotic Plants.

I am a Plant Enthusiast and Gardening is a major part of my life where I love to share my thoughts, experiences & life work.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Asystasia Gangetica ' Variegata'


You might find a common Asystasia which normally have a showy flower but often found as wild roadside plants and considered as a weed plant. And so in comparison this appear to be strangely so different from the original counter-part particularly this one where it is very much cultivated for the variegated foliage (which have yellow tones)

Also Asystasia is considered invasive commonly known as Chinese Violet, Coromandel, Ganges Primrose & Creeping Foxglove - those are mostly cultivated for the floral ornament plant where the foliage has white colorations (the floral variegated version)

This one however rarely flowers. 


Characteristics:

This one have fine skeleton like creeping vine which can prove fragile and may suddenly die away if they are not strongly rooted. However, roots do appear at each nodes when they touch ground surface making them more resilient and hardy. Watering is important as they do not do well as drought tolerant plant - they just wither away within a day and it would be too late to regenerate them.

And so, always have spare plant - trimmed and pruned and stashed somewhere - it may suddenly punish you when they suddenly die without warning when you miss their watering regime: such an unforgiving plant.


However once they pick up their growing regime they can appear to full in a bush. And so pruning is required to keep them in shape or else they can be unruly and may break and fall apart in their own weight as they grow overlapping each other.


MEDIUM:

They can do well with regular potting mix - do place them more on the drier side, fast draining medium as they can also rot easily when over-watered.

WATERING:

Daily watering and twice a day on a hot day. They can wither and dry away - and so to keep a tab on them as they may not recover once they had passed withering stage.

LIGHT:

They thrive on bright shaded area - which is very ideal for them as a basket hanging plants. Also do well as ground creeping plant.



PRUNING:

As I mentioned earlier - pruning is mandatory as they can appear to be leggy, messy and out of shape.
Other than that, it is basically an easy going plant when you find a nice suitable spot for it.

There are also few different varieties that I had seen sold in the nurseries as they appear in the plant market during festive seasons.




How to Grow & Care Purple Velvet Plant (Gynura Aurantiaca)


When I first saw this plant - I had totally fallen in love this one. Locally known as "Pokok Gunting" supposedly an heir-loom plant which been passed down from generations, as I had found that this was actually belonged as "Kampung Plants" whereas the meaning derived as "Pokok Gunting" as you just cut and poke plant. Of course, after checking the web - the name is sort of commonly used among locals but known universally. 

Gynura Aurantiaca commonly known as Purple Velvet Plant, Purple Passion Plant, Royal Velvet Plant or Velvet Plant. There are different species of Gynura which were used as traditional medicinal plant but this particular one is purely ornamental. 

The foliage has this light furry hairs that gives that purple velvety sheen on the green leaves. Gynura Aurantiaca is a trailing, evergreen perennial that was originally discovered on the island of Java in Indonesia.


Care & Cultivation:

MEDIUM:

I find this one is not so fussy about the soil medium, it can actually do so well in all kinds of medium types - from dry to moist types. Ideally do give a nice balance potting mix of both fast draining together with rich peat based medium that this one is well maintained for good root growth.

Do keep more on the drier side - it performs better than a wet feet.

WATERING:
It does well on daily watering - twice a day during a hot sunny days. Over watering can cause them to face root rot and the plant appears limp. And so do check on what is ideal - not too soggy a soil medium.

LIGHT:
This one do require bright indirect lighting to ensure a good coloration on the foliage. Too shady and they tend to appear more green than purple. Too hot and exposed to direct hot sun can cause the foliage can get burned and closed up.
It requires an ideal balance of both.


PRUNING:

I must emphasize that this may require a bit more pruning as the vine can just grow as a singular piece and may just snap and break due to it's own weight or can uproot itself from the hanging pot and you may lose the plant on a hot bright day without realizing it.

And so, the best option is to constantly prune them and used the cuttings for spare plants as they can be finicky - I had lost this plant couple of times.


PRUNING OFF THE FLOWERS:

It had been said which I believe it is true to prune of the flower heads before the form seeds as the plant can quickly set to mature and die off. I had not experienced this as none of my plants had not set to flower. 

Also I believe it would be better to do so, as I often nip off the flower buds of my Coleus plant to keep it going longer and focus on it's growth on foliage and root development.

Then there are report stating the blooms emits a foul smell that may not be pleasant. It would be better to remove them before they set to bloom unless you love experimenting with those first blooms.


It is a slow growing plant and may not appear to be invasive looking anytime soon. Other than that, this is fairly an easy plant to care for. Once it had set itself good roots - there are nothing much to worry about.


Aquatic Plants in the Garden


Reminiscing my old pictures of my water pond where I keep my goldfish and above all - fastening them with all kinds of aquatic friendly plants which I can get my hands on.

This was the time where I had not started with the idea of growing begonias using the mop wick system. And so - these were very much aquatic set-up  where I just loved having life-bearer fish: platties and guppies in that water pot.


The plants I had introduced here are Water Lettuce, Blue Fern, Water Hyacinth, Salvinia minima and Umbrella Pennywort. I had planted Teacup Colocasia here but it didn't do well and so I have to replant it in a different location.

Blue Fern is actually a Selaginella species which is native in my region. I just love the iridescent blue tones that forms in the foliage.


I had tried few types here and seen they had finished their season and slowly fade away when they don't get enough sun especially during the Year End Season when it rains a lot, the days are shorter and gloomier.



I must say, I had missed seeing all these plants but managed to save them in a different location where they are much stable and doing just fine.


I believe sometimes the plants do tend to stay for a season and find a way to move on. The reality of gardening where a gardener need to know and adjust according to the move and wave of plants and their behavioral patterns. 

Nothing is permanent, Nothing is Fixed - it is like fluid movement - just going with the flow..
It is the same with Plants and Gardening.

Fish Pond - Part 2


Reminiscing my old pictures of my water pond where I keep my goldfish and above all - fastening them with all kinds of aquatic friendly plants which I can get my hands on. This is my Part 2 of the continuation of the story.

I had always loved colored foliage plants especially the red ones - this particular of my strong interest when they turn to those rosy tones when exposed well in the a balanced indirect light. It doesn't get much care except some sprinkles of water from the water pond below.

This one is placed in a hanging basket just above the pond. This Sygonium Pink is truly remarkable specimen.




Finally my love for the Fish pond is the cream with the cherry on top: The Gold Fish.
I have taking care of them for years. I could they that they are a hardy ones - lived with me for so many years - I hope they continue their life journey for another decade. 


They are so tame that they come to the hand when comes to feeding time. Sort of used to it and have no fear. 

The only ordeal is keeping the water pond clean and clear from dirt and debris. I had to change & wash the filters on weekly basis to keep the water from turning murky. Also change quarter of the water quantity in keeping them fresh.


Overall, the plants and the biodiversity that rolls in this system somehow manage to keep everything in their perfect order. Happy Fish and Happy Plants.





I also have a spider that had spun a web across the pond which I would say - it is kind of cool to see these living creatures making a home in this tight space tiny garden. I am still amazed to note that it had lasted so many years and still does continue to web to this day.


Can you spot the Spider?



Also, I am a bit of a crazy when it comes for moss when I find this aquatic type of moss growing by the drain-side. I'm still experimenting on it and seeing how well do they fair in my garden condition.

It had eventually evolved when more plants started to grow and introduced together with it. Sort of like a symbiotic gardening putting all of the plants together.


Fish Pond - Part 1


Reminiscing my old pictures of my water pond where I keep my goldfish and above all - fastening them with all kinds of aquatic friendly plants which I can get my hands on.


Somehow the beauty of keeping them colorful and interesting can prove to be challenging when they overgrow or becomes leggy. Sometimes they don't do so well in this aquatic setting - as they prove to be more of a trial and error basis plants.

Here are in the collection of the types of pothos and philodendron.


The overall at the beginning when things look bare and empty. The staghorn fern takes the dominant position and the rest are slowly setting in.


Some plants did well in the inital stage like the Dumbcane species but slowly they didn't cut out well in this setting as they slowly started to have root rot - perhaps, it was too humid or wet and didn't get much air movement as they always look limp. 

However, after removing them and placing them more to a sunnier side - they picked up better in that condition. As I mentioned - most of the times, it is more of the trial and error basis. 

I'm guessing - the factor of trying it out and identifying what works best and what don't actually makes a lot of difference in this experimenting gardening.



The proverbial Turtle and the Hare story (here is very much a Doe) was very much challenging to me as each season - I have to constantly change the plants as they don't seem to do well in this condition.

In the beginning, it appears to be OK, but slowly diminish and becomes bare.
It is still work in progress to identify what works and what don't.



The Sun appears to shine brighter here only during the first few month during the Year especially (Jan-March) and the light slowly shifts out to other direction making this place very shaded and wet, which explains why most of the plants can't manage the humidity jump.



Regardless the challenge faced, I somehow find these particular types do so well in this condition, especially pothos, philodendron and sygoniums. These do have beautiful colored varieties that brighten up this place.



I also find that they have root sensitivity that once they had adjusted themselves in these aquatic conditions - they can't switch back to the soil medium like an ordinary plant - often when I do so - they slowly succumb to root rot and wither away. I'm guessing that they had been too long in wet feet that they just don't have the legs to stand back to the ground - figuratively speaking.


I would say, they are kind of ideal to put them in water for a week or two for their roots to grow and stabilize but they are not meant to be there in long term basis - unless, you intend to put your spares here just to add colors - then by all means go ahead, but to put your only collection here can be high at risk.
 


I also found that Satin Pothos do not like wet feet. I had placed a cutting here and it had slowly rotten away and was very disappointed at the outcome of it.  I guess not everything of the "pothos" ariod types like wet feet.




I also tried with this particular type: Dragontail plant and I find that it does fairly well in this condition compared to the ones planted in soil medium - infact they had grown better roots and very much stable to be transplanted back to soil medium.

I didn't want to have too many of these as they can grow big and become a handful & had graciously gifted to many of friends who had loved having them in their garden collection.


Do check out my part 2 on this journey of my fish pond with my challenges facing with aquatic plants, well - they are water tolerant per say.

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