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How does your garden grow?

FLOWERING plants not only add colour but also accentuate the garden, porch or living area. They can be divided into indoor, outdoor and water-based plants.

According to Loong of Glorious Nursery in Taman Subang Indah, Petaling Jaya, some plants are more sensitive than others, thus you will have to take extra care.

Besides watering, you should replenish the soil at least once a month, add fertiliser every fortnight and spray pesticide at least a once a week (however this depends on the severity of insects infecting the plants) to maintain the healthy growth of your plants.

Here's a list of flowering plants and the maintenance required:

1. Connisa (Indoor Plant)

Connisa is ideally grown in apartments, as it does not require much sunlight (half sun). Besides watering it once a day, you will need to remove dried leaves and flowers frequently.

"This plant flowers frequently, and once the flowers are wilted, immediately remove them, so the new sprout can develop without any hindrance," said Loong. Reasonably priced, this plant can be bought at most nurseries for RM7 t each. It comes in a variety of colours from pink, red and magenta tomaroon.

Besides adding colour, it also blends well with the bright green leaves and is visually pleasing. It should be fertilised every 10 days to maintain its growth.

2. Gerbera Daisy (Outdoor/Indoor)

Daisies are also known as gerberas. There are many types of daisies and you can usually differentiate them by their petals.

Some of them need constant sunlight while others do not. This plant can flower easily provided you have identified its basic requirements.

Retailing at RM20 each, it can be pricey but you do not have to buy many for your garden as daisies by themselves can be a prominent feature because of their bright and large flowers.

Water them frequently, and allow the soil to thoroughly absorb the moisture before you water again. If you have daisies at home, don't forget to cut and place them in a vase or arrange them as a flower bouquet for someone special.

3. Gromphrena Globosa (Outdoor)

It is commonly known as globe amaranth. Besides reminding you of purple grapes, this plant requires full sunlight and is also ideal for container gardening (refer to accompanying story).

To be watered at least once a day, it propagates through seeds. The petals are quite papery and make ideal flower arrangements and dried flowers, and are also added into potpourris.

The plants usually require warm soil (derived from sunlight) to grow properly and are hardy plants. They flower throughout the year.

4. Hibiscus (Outdoor)

Besides being our national flower, the hibiscus thrives in warm temperatures. From the usual five-petalled hibiscus, it has now developed into a variety of shades, texture and sizes.

There are more than 200 species in the hibiscus range and they are one of the easiest plants to grow in our climate. All you need is a stem for reproduction.

Some of the popular ones in Malaysia are the large-flowered hibiscus and the double-petalled hibiscus.

This plant requires a steady flow of water, without overflowing it as it can wilt easily. Add fertiliser every two weeks for optimum growth.

5. Vinca Minor (Outdoor)

Its five-lobed petals come in a variety of colours from violet-purple to red. Its centre is usually white.

Its leaves are bright green, with a glossy texture. Besides being a popular flowering plant, it requires daily watering and sunlight. As it flowers frequently, always remove the dried blooms.

6. Rose (Outdoor)

This flower is noted for its beauty and its scent never fails to attract the attention of garden enthusiasts. However, unlike the ones seen at nurseries, the ones at home don't bloom or thrive that well.

According to Loong, this is due to the fact that most of the rose plants which come from Cameron Highlands require a cold climate to thrive.

Ask questions about the suitable weather for the plant before you buy it. To maintain the plant, it is good to trim the stems frequently (in a slant) as this helps it to flourish.

There are many species available - from the Taiwanese rose to climbing or trailing plants (ideal for a fence). They range in size from tiny, miniature roses to creepers.

Besides water and sunlight, spraying with insecticide is recommended but this should be done with care to minimise the loss of beneficial insects.

7. Euphorbia (Outdoor)

Besides looking majestic, a full-grown plant costs approximately RM180. Ideal for big houses with space, this plant can develop thick, hardy stems and can grow quite big.

However, this may not be an ideal plant especially if you have children at home. The thorns on the branches can be dangerous with children around.

This plant is hard to maintain as too much watering can cause root rot and kill it. You should only water it two to three times a week.

8. Lantana (Water-based/Outdoor)

This plant needs to be submerged in water completely and requires sunlight. Two of the more common problems this plant faces are insects and yellow leaves. To avoid insects, you can spray pesticide at least once a week.

In addition, try replenishing water every now and then, and always change the platter at the bottom of the pot to avoid water retention and breeding of mosquitoes.

9. Water Lilies (Water-based/Outdoor)

Besides giving a serene atmosphere, water lilies floating on a pond of water add tranquility and calmness.

The beautiful purple and pink hues blend well with the green leaves. You do not need a big pond to grow water lilies, as a shallow pot with sufficient water and space will do.

If you have children at home, adding goldfish or guppies will make them more involved and also take care of the plants at the same time.

Besides replenishing water, it is also advisable to add granules in the water (can be found in nurseries) to stop mosquitoes from breeding.

Container gardening

IF you are a garden enthusiast, but don't have the space to create your own garden, container gardening is an ideal choice.

Container gardening is essentially placing different plants (at least three) in containers (plastic, clay, wood, ceramic, etc). Plastic containers come in different shapes and sizes, and those found in nurseries cost between RM18 and RM100.

Most containers have adequate holes for watering. However, if you are a busy individual or you are away for some time, you can always fill the base holder with water, which will gradually be absorbed by the soil.

Water container plants at least once a day as the limited amount of soil may dry quickly and the plant may became dehydrated.

To create a visual effect, plant different plants together so you get varied textures and colours. However, when you place the plants together in a container, make sure they have the same requirements.

Just have fun experimenting and gradually add more plants (for a lusher and fuller effect) as you go along.

Some ideal flowering plants for container gardening are the Gromphrena Globosa, Gerbera Daisy, Petunias and Impatiens. All plants featured can be found in local nurseries.

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