Connect with us

Cannabis

Putting the ‘I’ in your Phuket garden

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: You probably hadn’t noticed that I was plowing my way through the botanical alphabet before getting distracted by more alluring prospects, or the pressing horticultural needs of a four-month- long drought.

Well, anyway, most of the tropical plants listed under the letter “I” are in the index by virtue of an Indian designation: Indian banyan, Indian cork tree, Indian rubber vine, Indian shot, Indian rhododendron, Indian laburnum.

Indeed, the botanical name “Indica” means that the plant hails originally from India, though the epithet is used colloquially by aficionados to indicate – oh dear, more puns – a variety of cannabis. Still I suppose we can at least talk about “ganja” or “weed” these days since it has now been legalized in Canada and certain American states. Dreaming again…

Of the aforementioned plants, the one that first springs to mind is the golden shower tree (cassia fistula) which is putting on a marvelous show around Phuket at present. The dry spell has meant fewer leaves (which normally appear as the flowers arrive), but has induced a spectacle of cascading yellow racemes. A small compact tree, rarely more than twenty feet tall, its hardiness and propensity for tolerating dry conditions make it ideal as a yard tree, to front a wall or as a specimen ornamental on a lawn. Grow it from seed or from cuttings.

At the other end of the scale, as far as ease of cultivation is concerned, is the Indian rhododendron. The name too is a mouthful – melastoma malabatricum and is certainly no easier in Thai where it transliterates into something approximating to khlong kheng knii-nok. A fairly recent arrival in Phuket’s nurseries, it is an evergreen, spreading shrub with large, purple, five-petalled flowers. It grows wild in parts of India, Assam for example, but struggles here – at least in my experience. I have seen the similar but even more spectacular tibouchina ablaze in Southern California, but melastoma seems to find the Thai climate, or at least my garden, a bit oppressive.

The variety you will most likely encounter is melabathricum, which has attractive veined leaves, but it will need plenty of TLC – humus-rich, fertile, moist soil, but not waterlogged conditions. I would be keen to hear from fellow enthusiasts who have successfully cultivated this shrub: in the case of my potted specimen, the leaves turned brown and the plant slowly expired. The variety M candidum is hardier, grows more vigorously and has white as well as pink flowers. But I have yet to see it in garden centers.

I just took a peek at my Indian rubber vine. In contradistinction to melastoma, this shrub loves Phuket’s climate and soil, even though my normally profligate specimen today sports a solitary bloom. It really does miss the rains, but the wonderfully glossy, olive green foliage is as lush as ever. Like the Rangoon creeper, the allamanda, and the chalice vine, it normally produces masses of flowers – in this case musky scented, creamy pink trumpets – and like these other vines, it will need some support. Strophanthus (yaem pii nang in Thai) is likewise a vigorous grower, too big for a container, but ideal against a wall or a trellis. A must-have shrub.

The last plant in my Indian super league is millingtonia. Also known as the Indian cork tree, it is a bit too big for the average garden but if you can accommodate it, it will repay your hospitality, allowing smaller plants to flourish in its dappled shade. Anyway, millingtonia looks great as a yard or wayside tree. It has distinctive, deeply furrowed, corky bark, and a drooping habit, but its pride and joy is clusters of delicate, star-shaped flowers which cascade down from long white stems, creating the illusion, almost, of falling snow. A world away…

TIP OF THE WEEK
Most plants survive by using the green chlorophyll in their leaves to convert light energy into chemical energy that can be stored and used to promote growth. The process is call photosynthesis.

It follows then that plants normally seek light by turning towards a light source. This process is called phototropism. Sun loving plants that follow the sun’s movement are called heliotropic – for example sunflowers and heliotropes. Rare shade lovers such as the moonflower vine exhibit negative phototropism.

The gardener should recognize this need. In the case of outdoor pot plants, turn them occasionally so that the shaded part gets a chance to enjoy the sun. Otherwise you may get uneven growth.

And house plants, mostly understorey dwellers in the wild, and chosen because they require lower levels of light, will still need to be taken outside periodically to a place where they can enjoy filtered sunlight and thus increase the process of photosynthesis.

— 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

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Philippines13 hours ago

ICC opens investigation into Philippines President Duterte

World13 hours ago

American general defends “clandestine” phone calls with China

Thailand13 hours ago

Countdown to October reopening; body of Koh Phi Phi resort manager found | Thailand News Today | September 16

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!

Visa13 hours ago

Hungarian woman arrested in Koh Samui for 10-year overstay

Thailand14 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat reports Covid outbreak at prison

Guides14 hours ago

Most famous viewpoints in Phang Nga

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Blackpink14 hours ago

Blackpink’s Lisa causes sales frenzy for Buri Ram meatballs

Thailand15 hours ago

NACC ordered to disclose their findings regarding Deputy PM Prawit’s watch scandal

World16 hours ago

“Thai Taste Therapy” launched to promote Thai cuisine worldwide

Food16 hours ago

Food and drinks to stay away from in Thailand

Thailand16 hours ago

Ode to the Comments | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 19

Pattaya17 hours ago

Pattaya reopening likely to snub nightlife, favor other attractions

Thailand17 hours ago

Epidemiologists dispatched to Phuket to help curb the spread of Covid

Phuket17 hours ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival gets “green light” to run from October 6 to 14

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 13,897 new cases; provincial totals

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

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

Tourism7 months ago

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

Phuket7 months ago

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

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

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

Tourism7 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Thailand8 months ago

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

Trending