In case you haven’t noticed, the botanical world is vast and full of wonder. Many climates support a wide array of interesting flora; however, none can match the tropics for supporting such an intricate web of plant life. Phuket’s ecosystem naturally supports everything from edible and medicinal plants to poisonous and carnivorous ones.
Here’s a good one if your garden abuts a wall or fence. This classic vine is fairly easy to grow and doesn’t seem to mind poor quality soil – it can even be found growing out of the sand near the beach.
Passion Fruit | Credit: Sanook.com
While a pinch of patience is required for the sweet and tangy fruits to grow and ripen, it’s worth the wait. It’s best to train this voracious climber lest you care to climb high to retrieve the fruit. Precluding the development of the fruit comes a most dazzling flower, white petals topped by radiating outstretched tendrils fading from white to purple crowned with fluted green sepals.
Two main varieties are found in Thailand, one bearing purple fruit, the other greenish-yellow with the former being sweeter and the latter slightly more sour and tangy. Even minimally nourished plants will bear some fruit while healthy vines produce an abundance. It’s quite a healthy fruit to consume on its own. Its flavor is versatile and used around the world to make ice cream, jams, cheesecakes, juices, smoothies, cocktails, and fermented to produce wines and cordials.
Renowned for its pungent, euphorically fragrant flowers, this shrubby plant is well-known and loved. Luckily for us, it grows easily in Phuket’s climate.
Jasmine | Credit: hamzabahrain on Pantip
Since Jasmine grows dense with leaves and flowers, it’s a popular choice to plant in front of homes to create a privacy hedge. It can reach 4-meters-tall and can eventually be trimmed into handsome shapes.
Of course, the most amazing gift from night-blooming jasmine is the extremely aromatic flowers that open once the sun goes down. Few things evoke the spirit of tropical living like kicking back on a patio with the moon rising and the scent of jasmine wafting in on the warm breeze.
If ever there’s been an iconic flower representing Thailand, this would be it. They are seen growing widely throughout the Kingdom whether wild in murky ponds or wetlands, or in decorative earthen pots on porches, balconies, sidewalks, or just about anywhere.
Lotuses | Credit: Royal Park Rajapruek
There’s no need for elaborate reasons to grow lotuses; the sizable delicate flowers ranging from pure white to striking pinks and purples and everything in between is reason enough. The plant is revered by Hindus and Buddhists representing the path to spiritual awakening. In one case lotus seeds lying dormant for around 1,300 years were still viable, reinforcing their symbolic longevity. All parts of the plant are edible as well with boiled and sliced roots being used in several Thai dishes.
Lotuses grow easily in water at least 30cm deep with thick mud for the roots to grow in. They require fertilizer often which comes in tablet form simply stuck into the mud. Nearly every pot with a lotus also has a family of small fish residing within which eat mosquito larvae as an added bonus.