Sunday, September 20

Exploring the gorgeous blooms of the Siam tulip

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This is a showy outdoor flower when planted in a row in the ground.

I KNOW most of my retired colleagues have found a new pastime in gardening at home during the Covid-19 pandemic confinement, especially for the more senior group. Every morning I receive WhatsApp photos of their harvest of the day from as far as Melbourne, Australia, from Jim Fatt – the inventor of the autopot system. He has kept us interested in this hobby by showing us details how to plant and even enjoy gardening.

I recently came across a gorgeous imported tropical flower in the most unlikely venue – a shopping arcade in Hui Sing Garden, Kuching when I went to post a letter. Right there were a few lovely flower plants for sale. I knew the owner is good in gardening. He spends his free time gardening in his backyard. It was a lovely surprise for me to see beautiful flowers from the four single potted Siam tulips.

Background

We are likely to be familiar with turmeric and ginger flowers. Siam tulip is a cousin from the same family of ginger flowering plants called Zingiberaceae. Botanically it is known as the Curcuma alismatifolia. Like the turmeric (Curcuma longa and Curcuma zedoaria), many of these species have broad greenish-yellow leaves that like semi-shade for healthy growth.

The Siam tulip has thick olive-green leaves and shoots from a cluster of rhizomes. There are Siam tulip fields in Changhua County, Taiwan for tourism, not to mention the ones in Thailand where even some holiday resorts are named after this flower. The famous field of Siam tulips is in Pa Hin Ngam National Park in Chaiyaphum Province. Thailand.

This is a showy outdoor flower when planted in a row in the ground. This is a long perennial tropical flower that has good tolerance of saline soil, especially around seaside areas.

There are also several colours ranging from red to pink, rosé, and even brown. Research has revealed the red Siam tulip contains Malvidin 3-rutinoside pigment in the flower. The ones I saw here were reddish pink, with the flowers rising beautifully from the foliage.

Allow the plant to receive indirect bright light.

Planting tips

First choose the right location in the garden where there is less direct sunlight or in some shade. For pot planting, it also prefers to be kept in a spot with some shade. Here I mean allowing the plant to receive indirect bright light and not kept in the dark.

It may also help to keep them under fluorescent lights for several hours a day to promote flowering.

Secondly, choose a planting medium that is good for growing ginger. This would be well-draining soil that contains organic and humus materials. It is important to plant on raised beds in the ground to avoid a soggy medium. However, the plant needs moisture for the roots to develop well. Just ensure the medium is not waterlogged.

Thirdly, aftercare is simple for gardeners if we start of right in terms of the soil, potting system or in the ground, where there is no direct sunlight that is too harsh for the plants.

The need for shade can be considered using netting with 60 per cent shade above the growing plants on the ground.

Watering during dry season is required as and when the soil is dry. Two or three dry days is okay as the rhizomes would still nourish the foliage though it may not look its best.

If the pot is less than eight inches in diameter, there might not be enough soil inside without compost. Compost is good for preserving moisture for plants.

Uses

Siam tulip can be used for landscaping works as flower beds to decorate the garden. Secondly, potted flowering plants can be arranged for the decoration of areas when there are special occasions. Thirdly you can have them indoors to decorate sitting rooms, or on the patio or veranda to add an attractive element. Florists also take them for bouquets and floral arrangements as cut flowers. Hobbyist would know best what to with this lasting gorgeous bloom.

Do give Siam tulip a try in your garden. Send me an email if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

Happy gardening.