Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket lifestyle: Heavy-duty gardening

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: If you think that the ‘Phuket Gazette’ is a parochial newspaper, then have a re-think. I recently received an email from Honolulu, no less, about a piece on palms.

While the writer commended my observations about growing ferns and other epiphytes on palm trunks, he took me to task for writing about, “a very tired and overplanted group,” suitable for, “amateur gardeners and teams of poorly trained and hurried yardmen.” The writer’s letter ended by recommending a Hawaiian nursery, ‘Floribunda Palms and Exotics’, so I duly had a gander at their impressive website. But here’s the rub. Most Gazette readers in Phuket are expats whose experience of tropical gardening is necessarily limited. I was the same when I first came here. That means that, initially at least, they want rugged, easy-to-grow plants that are resilient enough for life in Phuket. In general, exotics, rare species, and newer cultivars are much more fastidious about their environment, and will need more tender loving care.

It is worth adding that Hawaii is not Phuket, sits on the Tropic of Cancer, and has a winter temperature between 16 to 29 degrees Celsius; Phuket is much nearer the equator, and is thus consistently hotter.

And as I swelter away at the computer, I am forcefully reminded that there is no real let-up. So for a while, some of the tough tropicals that flourish in Phuket’s heat are going to feature here. The more fragile exotic brethren can wait their turn.

One shrub that is rarely praised, but which copes easily with conditions here is the umbrella tree or schefflera. It is essentially a foliage shrub with glossy leaves arranged in palmate fashion like the spokes of a wheel.

The evergreen foliage grows in dense clumps, and sometimes the leaflets droop like a parasol – hence the common name of umbrella tree. It will take shady conditions and provides good cover, especially next to a wall.

In Europe it is sometimes grown as a house plant, a fact which gives an indication of its durability. In fact, I have one in a pot which sits outside in full sunlight, requires little watering, and is now about six feet wide and six feet tall.

Scheffleras can often produce unusual inflorescences – spikes of flowers which go from green to pink and finally to dark red. I say “can’ because it does not always flower, and in any case, it is the foliage and especially the variegated form which is the main attraction. In the right conditions, it can reach 10 feet in height, but it would need to be planted in open ground to achieve those dimensions.

It takes slowly from cuttings, but is, in any case, readily available in garden centers.

Unspectacular maybe, but a personal favorite.

There is nothing unspectacular about the bougainvillea. Spectabilis is even part of the botanical name. And this vine has nothing in common with the umbrella tree except that it is a survivor and will take anything Phuket can throw at it. Right now, at the end of the dry season, it is vying for visual prominence with cassias and flame trees.

Left to its own rugged devices and clinging to a tree, it can grow to forty feet or more. Placed next to a wall, it will soon cover the entire surface with its red, salmon-pink, orange or white bracts. Moreover, it looks magnificent in a pot, especially container specimens, which have several different colors grafted on to a single rootstock. For instant impact, put a row of these on your patio or balcony.

Tip of the week – planting bare-root plants

IN the days before containerization, plants were bought with bare roots, sometimes and if you were lucky – enclosed in burlap or sacking.

These plants had a lower rate of survival, but at least they only had one kind of soil to cope with. If your new plant has been soil-less for some time, soak it in a bucket of water for at least four hours.

Cut away damaged roots and position in a hole at least twice the size of the root system, which should be spread out over a cone of soil in the middle of the hole.

Carefully hold the plant upright, and backfill to the soil level. Add water to settle the roots and add a circular ridge of soil that will aid future retention.

If you are transplanting your own plants, try to preserve as much of the root system and its attendant lump of soil as possible.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)52 mins ago

Autopsy results for woman who died after mixing vaccines

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 14,260 new infections, news briefs

Thailand10 hours ago

Department head predicts Covid-19 could last up to another year

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

World12 hours ago

Swedish prison hostage situation resolved with pizza

Thailand13 hours ago

Minister: Foreigners, migrant workers are cared for amid Covid-19

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

“Withhold Intubation” for certain older Thammasat Hospital patients

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Bang Sue vaccination centre open for expats 60+, under must wait

Coronavirus News & Updates19 hours ago

“Covid-19” deaths said to cause crematorium in Bangkok to partially collapse

Thailand19 hours ago

Nakhon Sawan farmers make large profits growing fingerroot as Covid cure

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

Leaked document: military arranging private Moderna vaccines

Thailand20 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat arrest drug suspect hiding in jar

Media20 hours ago

19 year old man drowns in a Kanchanaburi river while rescuing his puppy

Thailand21 hours ago

Online registration site up for interprovincial travel permission

Thailand21 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Sandbox tweak, ‘filthy rich’ visa, Chon Buri restrictions | July 23

Phuket21 hours ago

18 infections today in Phuket creeps closer to 90/week threshold

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending