The hardy Kangkong plant

A nice new, strong stem of kangkong growing from a plant that I thought was dying.

I have a horrible track record when it comes to growing leafy vegetables. Somehow or other, the poor plants die of neglect, don’t have the right growing conditions or are attacked by pests or disease (not in any particular order). My kangkong, however, looked to be my first leafy veggie success. They had been growing in a planter and hanging in individual bottle-pots, growing quite prolifically. They looked very impressive, if I say so myself. All was going well and I was looking forward to a decent harvest.

And then the whiteflies arrived. I tried to control them by cleaning the eggs off the leaves by hand, but there were too many leaves, and too many pests. Eventually, I stalked off in frustration and ignored the plants, and they began to die from the pests feeding on the leaves and lack of watering.

I thought that would be the end, but with the rainy weather we’ve been having, the plants got some moisture, they didn’t have any more to offer to the pests, and left alone, they miraculously survived. No doubt the stems were mostly withered, but new leaves started budding along the existing greener stems, and new stems began growing from the main stem. So I considered my options…

  1. Yucky mealy bugs setting up home at the base of the kangkong stem.

    Firstly, these plants were probably not very healthy any more. Were they worth reviving or should I just start a new batch?

  2. The plants were also very root bound in the bottle-pots, even though I used as much of the height of the bottles that I could to give the roots more space to grow. Obviously they still need more space…

Being curious, I thought I’d work with what I had and see what happened. The plants seemed anxious to grow, and responded well to some CPR/TLC.

But then the pests returned. Not just whiteflies but also fluffy, plump mealy bugs that clustered on the stems. So, as with the tomato plants, I decided to remove the food for pests, and unhappily got rid of the most infected kangkong plants, which was about 85% of them. I am stubbornly determined to see how far I can get with growing this plant. At least I know now that they’re tough, can bide their time and keep on growing. Now, if I could only figure a way to deter pests…

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The hardy Kangkong plant — 14 Comments

  1. You should! I love it quite a bit. Best of all, you can dump any green waste you want in (add lots of citrus fruit peels to give it a good smell!) and use that. =)

    • Hm… citrus peels… Chinese New Year… yeah, I get the connection! LOL. I’ll go look up the recipe and see if I can get this going. There are a LOT of pests popping up again. Must be the effect of all the rain we’ve been having.

  2. Yups, I did. My first batch was five months old because I was too scared to open it up on my own and see a monstrous thing. :P But it smelt quite nicely of apple cider vinegar.

    I didn’t have to use my second batch so it fermented for between six to nine months before I harvested it. Haha.

    • LOL. Well I’ve been putting this off for too long and better start on it. It sounds like a very good gardening resource to have handy!

  3. Oh yes, it is! Are you averse to composting worms? If not, I suggest actually investing in a worm bin (if you’re not scared of the wormies) or the worm castings/worm tea. I find that my plants are FAR less bothered by pests after I started using worm products. My second batch of garbage enzyme hasn’t even been used by me – I passed it all to someone else. Lol.

  4. Hm…I’m not too sure. I’m not familiar with worm identification, but I know that earthworms and composting worms are different. I have a small compost system, so I know the worms are all composting worms. >.< Aiyo. But if you're interested, I can point you to a guy who sells them. Or maybe just ask him questions.

  5. Hello! My kangkong is infested with feathery white stuff (whitefly?) and black stuff (that can’t be washed off). What should I do? Thanks!

    • Hi Wayne,
      It sounds like whiteflies. I usually prune away the affected leaves & stems and let the plants keep growing. Keep an eye out for new infestations and wash off with water. It’s kind of tough because the insects are automatically attracted to leafy plants, but battle on!