Coconut trees may start fruiting from the sixth to the tenth year of their life
Coconut trees may start fruiting from the sixth to the tenth year of their life

Q. I live in Karachi. Please guide me from which nursery in the city can I get the butterfly bush or the summer lilac plant?

A. The butterfly bush plant is relatively uncommon and unknown at different local nurseries and plant stores. You can search for it and purchase it from online sellers. The usual and relatively easier method would be to simply visit the nursery selling plants in your area and ask them. Even if they do not have one, you can always ask them to arrange it for you. They usually pre-book the plant and arrange it for you later. They might also request you for a photograph of the plant beforehand, if they are often unaware of it.

Q. My coconut trees are not fruiting, although some are more than five years old. Could you please suggest which fertiliser to use for the trees to enter the fruiting phase, or what else can be done?

A. It would have been really helpful if you had mentioned your city, as climate and weather conditions impact the fruiting capability of a coconut tree. Similarly, although the tree may tolerate dry spells, regular watering is also very fundamental.

Most importantly, the coconut trees are said to begin fruiting at least six to 10 years after seed germination and attains maximum fruit production by the 20th year of its germination. You have already waited long enough, just give them another year or two and, hopefully, your trees will start bearing coconuts, too. Fingers crossed!

All your gardening queries answered here

Q. I have two queries regarding my tomato plant. Is it normal for tomato flowers to droop (photograph attached)? Mine have just started budding. Moreover, it might be infected by some sort of pest. I have attached a picture of its leaves. Please suggest.

A. Congratulations on your plants reaching the flowering stage. It is perfectly normal and natural for the tomato plant flower to droop in such a manner as shown in your photograph. At this stage, the amount of water should be reduced, but the regular watering schedule should be continued. Since temperatures are currently on the rise, keep the plant at a location where it is exposed to early morning sunlight only.

A leaf miner leaves a white trail on tomato leaves | Photos by the writer
A leaf miner leaves a white trail on tomato leaves | Photos by the writer

During noon and in peak sunlight hours, the plant should be misted, to ensure humidity for the plant and, in the process, the pollen will also not turn dry. If there is a lack of wind and pollinators, then you may need to tap the base of the flowers to ensure the pollination of the tomato flowers. Any of the potassium-based fertilisers should now be added fortnightly to the plant container until the end of the fruiting phase.

With respect to the second part of your query, according to the attached photograph, the pest on your leaf is a relatively common one, known as a leaf miner. The white trails on the leaves of your plants are characteristic of this pest, which we will cover comprehensively in our articles later. For the time being, you may pinch off and remove the leaves which have this white-coloured pattern of the leaf miner and spray the rest of the plant with an organic pesticide after every 10 to 15 days. We hope that you get to harvest lots of tomatoes during the season.

Q. I grow green lettuce in pots and they are kept on the terrace of my house, where there is early morning sunlight exposure. From these pots, I harvest dozens of leaves after every few days and use them in food. Recently, I have observed that the taste of the leaves has changed slightly and it is now mildly bitter. The leaf also seems to have changed from the original shape. Someone told me it happens when pesticide is used excessively. But I have not sprayed the plant with anything since I have grown it. How can I recover the taste of my lettuce leaves?

A tomato plant with drooping flowers
A tomato plant with drooping flowers

A. As the temperature increases, the lettuce plant approaches the end of its life-cycle. At this time, the taste of the leaves starts to change to being more bitter than normal. Unfortunately, the taste and the plant cannot be recovered from this stage onwards. You may need to remove the plant soon and replace it with something else. Happy gardening!

Q. I have a small clay pot with a Baby sun rose plant. The pot is now very crowded. I was wondering if I can shift it and grow some of the Baby sun rose twigs in hangings? These hangings will be a beautiful, bright and flower-laden addition to my home, especially with Eid just around the corner.

A. The transplanted twigs might initially droop and appear lifeless for a few days. I hope these recover well before Eid for you. And, of course, this is a nice idea to transplant some of the stems and twigs from the crowded pot to prepare these beautiful hangings. Do share the photographs of your gardening accomplishment with us.

Please send your queries and emails to doctree101@hotmail.com. The writer is a physician and a host for the YouTube channel ‘DocTree Gardening’ promoting organic kitchen gardening

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 31st, 2024

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