Orchids – Surprise Keikis


Psychopsis orchid:

When I bought this orchid the seller told me that it had just been re-potted and she made sure that I should not disturb it. Also it had 3 long flower stems, one with a flower. I was told that I should not cut the flower stems as they could re-flower again and again (sequential).

It was potted in ordinary soil and I was not really happy with it, so disregarding the advice of the seller, I changed the potting media with proper orchid mix. Later on I read somewhere online that Psychopsis orchid will sulk if reported too often. Not long after, the new flower spike on one of the long stem was dry. Some of the foliage are getting yellow and dry as well. For months, the plant which only had two leaves left did not show any changes. It was only very recently I noticed a spike and I am sure it is a new growth. Two of the flower stems started to get dry and I cut them off. One remaining green flower stem looks good, but I’ve decided to peel off the ugly dry sheaths that cover each stem nodes. Not long after, tiny bumps started to grow on the exposed nodes. I am almost sure they are keikis. I did not even apply any keiki growing paste.


Phalaenopsis orchid:

Recently, one of our Phalaenopsis orchids, the one that has beautiful white flower edges with pink, suffered from rotting roots and only had one leaf left. I took it out of the pot and cut all the rotten roots and only some aerial roots remained. After I sprinkled the cutting wound with cinnamon powder, I replanted it with the aerial roots buried in the growing media. Now to my surprise, it has grown a new leaf and a keiki is growing from the base. The keiki has two leaves and a root has also started to grow.


A lot of times, good things in life come very unexpectedly…………….


Billbergia Bromeliad


Our friend Viv, her sister and I went to the Caribbean market yesterday. I spotted this Bromeliad plant for sale which has unusual flowers. The Billbergia Bromeliad has the most unusual flowers. The large dangling pink bracts look so strange compared to the small purplish flowers.

The seller, the same gentleman who sold me the ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ plant few years ago had given me a very good bargain price. Now I am so glad to have this plant and hopefully it will soon multiply by growing pups.


Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ – Fruits and Seeds

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For the very first time we’ve noticed that our Camellia sasanqua “Yuletide’ is having fruits. The furry fruits are pear shaped as big as a finger tip. The hard fruit contains two or three large seeds with the shape and size similar to coffee beans.
“Yuletide’ camellia has vivid single red flowers with prominent yellow stamens. The compact little bush is slow growing and in Australia will mainly flower during March to July, but the flowers can sparingly persist up to early Spring time (September/October). On the Northern part of the world the main flowering time is during Christmas time in which the name ‘Yuletide’ comes from.

Saving Rotting Euphorbia obesa


Around 2 weeks ago I noticed that the big and old Baseball plant (Euphorbia obesa) was leaning to one side of the pot and I use a rock to give it support to stand straight. At that time I thought the plant was still hard to touch. But today I noticed that it had unusual colour and when I touched the bottom part it was very soft.

It makes me sad as we have had it for many years. When we bought it around 20 years ago, it was in a pair, a male and female. The female one was long gone with the same rotting problem. So far we had bought another young pair. Euphorbia obesa is quite rare here in Melbourne and it is hard to get. If available, they are not cheap at all.

I took it out of the pot, and the soil was not even wet at all. I still don’t understand what actually has caused the rot.  At first I cut a bit of the bottom part that was very soft and mushy, but the top section was still soft and after sterilizing the knife I cut the top part where it is still hard to touch. I will keep the top section with the hope that the wound will be dry off and can be replanted. I sprinkled the wound with cinnamon powder to seal it. They say that cinnamon works wonder against fungal problems and widely use to help sealing cutting section in plants.

I am not sure if this method is correct or if it will work. I just gave it a try. I was left with no choice, if I leave it without getting rid of the rotting part, I am sure the plant will die anyway.  Just wait and see. If it works….. it will surely a miracle.

Rotting Euphorbia obesaRotting Euphotbia dissected

Euphorbia obesa - Sealed the wound with cinnamon powder

Update February 8, 2016:

One week later, the top cut section has started to dry and kind of shrinking in. I saw online that people did this to cactus, but I am not too sure if it will work with baseball plant. Will it grow roots? I will wait for a few more days and then I will stand it on dry pebbles. Hopefully roots will eventually grow.

Euphorbia obesa top section a week later.

February 9, 2016:

I decided to stand the cutting on dry pebbles, no water at all. It looks OK. Strangely the tip is not tapered anymore, now it is more rounded. Is it possible that it has grown already with no roots? How strange! Hopefully it will grow roots later on.


Garden Mid Summer 2016


The two months of Summer, December and January’, here in Melbourne have been quite mild, with only few hot days. The last few days of rains have made the garden look more alive with various new blooms. Even the lawn suddenly has started to look greener.
The two pear trees are full of fruits, and we always share them with wild Lorikeets. Now I can hear their noisy chits-chats and squeaks.

Pears and Rainbow Lorikeets:

The Beurre Bosc pears are hanging heavily on small branches, while noisy rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are chewing and munching the half-ripe fruits and making quite a mess. The colourful birds spit out most of the chewed flesh to the ants’ advantage. We always share the pears with lorikeets. I only picked the best looking fruits for making stew. I love to see those colourfull birds:)

Water Lilies:

The creamy white water lilies always bloom easily in the summer, but this year the pinkish red one also growing good. They are quite pretty to look at, but don’t last very long, only around 3 days before starting to wilt.

Rose ‘Peace’:

A surprise second batch of flowers! How few rainfalls recently do wonder, all of sudden the ‘Peace’ rose is flowering again. Quite a few and look pretty colourful and fresh.



Kalanchoe ‘ Silver Spoon’ and ‘Copper Spoon’:

The ‘Silver Spoon’ Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe hildebrantii) in the garden dropped a lot of leaves and few months ago I made some cuttings to grow in pots. Today they have grown nicely ready to be transplanted back in the garden. The tougher ‘Copper Spoon’ Kalanchoe grow nicely in the garden and now the colour is vivid copper brown.

Echeveria nodulosa:

The Echeveria nodulosa rosette leaves have interesting colour and some people call them ‘painted beauty’. We grow this plant in the garden and I notice that snails have eaten some of the tender leaves. I plan to dig it up and grow it in a pot instead. The interesting flowers are brightly coloured.

Epiphyllum/Disocactus ackermannii Fruits:

For the very first time, the E. ackermannii is growing quite a few of fruits. They are the size of marbles and the inside is similar to Dragon fruit, I tasted it….kind of sweet but I don’t really like the taste


The small yellow Hibiscus plant has eventually started to establish itself and grow bigger. The leaves look green and healthy and the yellow ruffled flowers look vibrant. While the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is having flowers here and there.

Tears are the summer showers to the soul……. (Alfred Austin)

Arabian Jasmine – Melati Menur

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This Arabian Jasmine plant (Jasminum sambac) is still in its original pot since I’ve bought it about 2 years ago in Caribbean market. At first, I was not very sure that this tropical plant could grow well here in Melbourne. The seller assured me that it would grow reasonably good here in a pot or in the garden.

The better choice is by growing it in a pot, so that the plant can be moved around. In the summer it can be placed outside in the sun and when the temperatures are low during winter, it can be kept indoor near bight window or under a covered veranda. This way, the plant will not drop foliage during winter time.

The other choice is by planting it in rich soil in the garden. As the plant is exposed to all weather elements, the possibility is that it will die down during winter and will grow again when the temperature starts to warm up in spring.

I’ve chosen the first choice by letting it grow in the pot and I keep the plant under the shade of the veranda during winter and move it in sunny spot during warm months. The plant will go dormant in the winter and only lose few leaves. By the end of spring it will start to grow flowers all the way in summer to autumn. It seems that the plant is a climber, but I trim it down to make it grow more branches. Some people prefer to strip leaves that grow on long branches to promote new growths and make it bushier.

Now our Arabian jasmine plant is growing the second batch of blooms. The smell lingers and fill the surrounding area with the most delightful fragrant. Once the flowers are spent, pluck the stems off and not very long will flower again and will only stop when the air starts to get too cold by the end of autumn. I find that this Jasmine plant is heavy feeder and will appreciate good amount of fertilizer. Manure pellets or slow release fertilizer granules combine with occasional drink of seaweed liquid fertilizer will make the plant happy and have green leaves and many flowers.

The aroma of this bunga Melati  (Indonesian name) always reminds of home in Central Java. My belated father used to grow them in the courtyard along the side of the house. The one that he grew was the more common variety that has single petals which is called ‘Melati’ while the one with double petals is commonly known as ‘Menur’ in Central Java.


Indoor Plants

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Yesterday I redid our terrarium. After few years, one plant, the Begonia rex dominated the limited space in the glass container. I hardly watered it so it went unchecked. If only I regularly trimmed the plants, probably it would never happen.

Other indoor plants seem to be good.

Terrarium and Begonia rex:

The 2 pictures above are the terrarium after redoing in 2013, Begonia rex was one of the plants. It seems that it was the most suitable plant to survive inside a terrarium and gradually took over and did not give the other plants a chance to survive. Just before I redid the terrarium yesterday, the colourful Begonia plant was the only survivor, the pretty leaves grew crowded and filling the whole confine space of the glass container. If I gave more attention by pruning it regularly, probably the invasion would never happen.

The photos underneath are the terrarium after replanting/redoing yesterday:

The colourful Begonia that grew out of control inside the terrarium has been transplanted. One small cutting goes back in the glass container together with a Sanseviera hahnii and a Peperomia. I deliberately not to overcrowd the terrarium, so hopefully each plant will have enough room to grow.

The remaining large part of the Begonia rex was replanted in a Chinese ceramic pot. The colourful foliage still look crammed after growing in a confined space for a long time. Hopefully it will grow and look better over time.

Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans):

My friend Viv bought this plant when we visited Vasilli’s Garden Shop in Coburg few years ago. One pot had a clump of the pretty miniature palm, and she divided them into two and gave me one part.

Rattlesnake Plant – Calathea lancifolia:

I read that this plant is a bit hard to grow in colder climate, but ours seems to be happy sitting near south facing window next to my computer. Occasionally I give the plant water from the fish tank and the new leaves grow bigger and longer.

Golden Pothos – Devill’s Ivy – Epipremnum aureum:

This indoor plant with heart shape leaves and interesting colours is very versatile. Need to be kept moist but not too wet. Here in Melbourne this plant can be grown outside under protected veranda. In the winter keep it away from cold draught, otherwise just keep it indoor in a brightly lit room. Propagation is by stem cuttings after the trailing plant has grown too long.

Mother in Law’s Tongue – Sansevieria:

Another tough and easy to grow indoor plant. The interesting leaves come in different colours and patterns. Some grow tall and others are miniatures. The ones that we have are variegated standard with long blade like foliage (Sansevieria laurentii) and the other one is miniature (Sansevieria hahnii). I remember this plant grew wildly along the edge of a dirty and smelly creek behind my grandmother’s place in Solo when I was a child.


Few years ago I cut out Dracaena fragrans (Cornstalk Dracaena) into 3 parts and replanted the top part with leaves in a pot, and the two cuttings in another pot. Since then, they have grown quite good. I keep one with two cuttings inside and the other one stays outside under the veranda.

The three lucky bamboo plants (Dracaena sanderiana) don’t grow in water anymore. I replanted them in  soil.

Polka Dot ot Plant – Hypoestes phyllostachya:

If grown inside, Polka Dot plant will tend to grow taller and lanky. To make it look fuller, it needs to be prune once the branches has started to grow long. I find that this plant need a lot of water, especially during hot days. If the leaves start to look a little limp, it needs watering.



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