Categories
Uncategorized

5 Easy-to-grow Garden Plants

Home gardening brings a couple of benefits to gardener as well as to environment. Here are some hardy, useful garden plants that require little maintenance:  

  1. Kangkung

Common name: Water spinach, Swamp morning glory

Malay name: Kangkung

Scientific name: Ipomoea aquatica

Distribution: South and Southeast Asia, tropical Africa, South and Central America and Oceania

Conservation status: Least concern, Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A perennial creeping plant growing up to 3 m long. Its stems are hollow and contain milky sap. Leaves are lanced-shaped, with 3 – 14 cm-long leafstalks. It produces funnel-shaped, whitish flowers. Fruits are round to egg-shaped, turn woody and brown when mature.

Precaution

The plants accumulate heavy metals when planted in polluted water.

Uses

Kangkung is a popular vegetable in Asia. Its leaves and young shoots are often cooked or eaten raw.

Planting

Kangkung survives in a wide range of soils, including heavy clays. It can grow in water. The plant needs a sunny position. It can be propagated by seeds or stem cuttings. Stems produce roots at nodes that come in contact with water or moist soil. It takes 2 to 3 weeks to develop lateral branches after sowing.

Biodiversity Benefits

The plant is pollinated by bees and butterflies. The plants are known to remove excess phosphorus from water bodies.

2. Ubi kayu

Common name: Tapioca, Cassava

Malay name: Ubi kayu

Scientific name: Manihot esculenta

Distribution: Tropics and subtropics worldwide

Status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (South America)

Description

A semi-woody shrub that grows up to 2 m tall. It has tuberous roots as storage organs. Leaves are palmately lobed and alternately arranged. Leafstalks are red and up to 60 cm long. Flowers are clustered and less attractive. It produces round, ridged fruits.

Precaution

The leaves of this plant contain a harmful chemical known as linamarin. This chemical can release the toxic hydrocyanic acid in the presence of the enzyme linase. Linamarin can be destroyed by heat.

Uses

Its young leaves and tubers are cooked as vegetables.

Planting

The plant can grow in either full shade, partial shade or no shade. Generally, a sand or sandy loam is preferred for growing this plant. It grows well in moist, well-drained soil. It can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. The plant can be harvested throughout the year. The roots take about six months to mature.

Biodiversity Benefits

The plant is pollinated by insects. A mulch of leaves and stems of this plant repels root knot nematodes.

3. Serai

Common name: Lemongrass, Oil Grass, Fever Grass

Malay name: Serai

Scientific name: Cymbopogon citratus

Distribution: Africa, South and Central America, the West Indies, China and Southeast Asia

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A clump-forming grass that grows up to 1-2 m tall when in flower. Leaf blades are strap-shaped and light green in colour. Crushed leaves emit a lemony scent. Small, brownish florets are hold together on drooping flowering clusters.

Precaution

Uses

Stalks are crushed and used as flavouring in a variety of Southeast Asian dishes such as curries and Tom Yam Soup. Leaves can be boiled to make tea. Essential oil extracted from the leaf stalks is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and perfumery.

Planting

The plant needs a full sun position. It can grow in sand, loam or clay. It grows well in well-drained soils. The plant is propagated by seeds, divisions or stem cuttings.

Biodiversity Benefits

The plant can be used as groundcover.

4. Pandan

Common name: Screwpine

Malay name: Pandan

Scientific name: Pandanus amaryllifolius

Distribution: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia (including Irian Jaya) and the Philippines

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A shrub or small tree with long, linear, slightly pleated leaves. Leaves are spirally arranged.

Precaution

Uses

Young leaves of this plant are cooked and eaten. They are also used as food flavouring, colouring and wrapping material. Chopped leaves are mixed with flowers to make potpourris. People weave the leaves into baskets and sleeping mats. The essential oil extracted from the leaves has insect-repellent activity.

Planting

Pandan is planted by suckers i.e. side shoots that emerge from the base or lateral bud of a plant. The plant grows well in fertile, well-drained loamy soils. It needs a full sun or partially sheltered environment. Harvesting may start about 6 months after planting and may continue for several years.

Biodiversity Benefits

Pandan is food plant for caterpillars.

5. Kadok

Common name: Wild Pepper, Wild Betel

Malay name: Kadok

Scientific name: Piper sarmentosum

Distribution: Andaman Islands, southern China, Southeast Asia (from the Philippines southward to the Moluccas.)

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A creeping plant that form mounds of up to 60 cm in height. Stems are erect and slightly hairy. Leaves are glossy, dark green, heart-shaped and alternately arranged. Crushed leaves emit a peppery scent. Flowers are white, without petal, borne on cylindrical flowering shoots. It produces small, dark green fruits.

Precaution

Uses

The leaves of this plant are either eaten raw or cooked. They give a nice peppery flavour. Larger leaves are lightly steamed and used as food wraps. Fruits and stems are also edible.

Planting

Kadok is propagated by seeds or transplanting. It needs shady environment. It grows well in moist, well-drained, fertile loamy soils. The plant needs spaces to roam and crawl.

Biodiversity Benefits

Kadok is pollinated by animals. It can grow as an understory shrub (a branched, woody plant between forest canopy and forest floor) or groundcover.

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.