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Phuket Gardening: Little lily love in the tropics

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gardening: Little lily love in the tropics | The Thaiger

PHUKET: BOOKS on tropical gardening contain little information about types of lily. In fact, few ornamental varieties are mentioned. There is plenty about the allium branch of the family – onions, chives, garlic and the like – but little on flowering lilies.

The problem is that though they have been around for 4,000 years, the majority of lilies grow only in temperate or sub-tropical regions.

Indeed, most Asiatic hybrids or Oriental lilies, despite their names, exist here only as imports. These are especially prized as cut flowers destined for hotels and drawing rooms.

But there are varieties that can grace your Phuket garden. Take the spider lily (Hymenocallis littoralis) as an example.

It is used everywhere on the island as a bedding plant, usually planted in massed ranks to create a dramatic effect. The spider lily is ideal as ground cover, since it has attractive, strap-shaped leaves and distinctive star-shaped flowers with long spidery petals emerging from a white hub – hence the name spider lily.

It is a neat plant, unlikely to exceed two feet in height. Because of its popularity, it has spawned a number of cultivars, including a form with attractive variegated foliage, and another with much narrower leaves. The flowers tend to appear at the same time, and last quite awhile.

But perhaps the lily’s main selling point is its good nature. For it will tolerate a range of soils, and though it flowers most easily in sunny conditions, it will also put up with deep shade. Moreover it will, if left alone, multiply and provide an ever larger patch of blooms. It is an excellent starter flower for the new garden.

One lily-lookalike that flourishes outdoors in Thailand’s dry season is a variety of hippeastrum. No longer classified as a true lily, the hippeastrum belongs to the larger genus of amaryllidaceae that includes the lilies.

Right now, it is in flower around Phuket, a distinctive, single-stemmed plant crowned by four lily-like, trumpet-shaped flowers in an unusual shade of deep salmon pink. The blooms face to the four points of the compass – hence the colloquial Thai name translating as “facing four ways” or “compass plant”.

It grows about 18 inches tall, and looks particularly decorative when grouped as a border plant. Give it time and the bulbs will multiply unseen. A roadside bed near Nai Harn Lake is evidence of that.

Most other species of hippeastrum will struggle in Thailand’s heat. So it is usually sold here – as in Europe – as a massive bulb, which you then plant in a container with the top third projecting above the soil.

Give the bulb a rich potting mix, with a pH no higher than 6.5. A slow developer, it will, like its outdoor Thai cousin, take up to 10 months to flower, and will only do so once it has produced a least four, characteristic, strap-like leaves.

However, the results are truly spectacular – voluptuous, trumpet-shaped blooms at the top of thick, fleshy stems, and a range of colors from deep red through salmon pink to cream and white.

There are many striped and bi-colored forms, as befits a plant that has been extensively hybridized. And one stem may produce anything from two to a dozen blooms. But if you want your hippeastrum to flower again, you will need to put the bulb in cooler conditions for a few weeks before re-potting.

I am currently growing one in a container outdoors. Placed in a shaded area next to the house, it already has several leaves, so it should flower in due course – fingers crossed. But the real test will come if, and when, it is transferred permanently to a flower bed.

Phuket Gardening is Phuket Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell’s feature of all things flora and fauna.

If you have a garden that you would like to be featured on this page, please email: pcampbell45@gmail.com

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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