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Creating and Maintaining A Beautiful Garden in Indonesia

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If you have just moved into your new home in Jakarta, you may enjoy creating a beautiful tropical garden as plants can be found at very reasonable prices in many roadside stalls. Some of the better selections can be found along Jl. Asia Africa or just behind Hotel Dharmawangsa. The tropical climate and heavy rainfall is conducive to rapid growth of plants, so you will soon create a lush green environment. Below are a few hints on maintaining plants and gardens in your new home in Indonesia.

Two varieties of lawn can be found in Jakarta:

  • The soft, fine green lawns are imported fine leaf compact grasses (rumput Peking), which must be kept closely and regularly mown at carpet pile height. High humidity and water logged surfaces encourages algae growth in such a lawn. High maintenance is needed and care is more difficult. This type of grass requires direct sunlight to do well.
  • Local carpet grass, which has a rather course texture (rumput gajah or rumput Bogor), is hard wearing and usually thrives in moist soils. Regular mowing keeps the grass dense and keeps out other grasses. Keeping the ground moist will prevent pathways occurring in the high traffic areas. It requires low maintenance, if kept in good condition, with three monthly doses of NPK. This type of grass does better in sunny areas.

Additional garden hints:

  • If your house and garden are brand new and there are no big trees, large trees are available to transplant to a new garden so within a year you can create a shady area. Plumeria, Delonox regia, Erythrina indica are just a few. Normally it is necessary to brace the trucks of the trees due to high water content in the soil which makes newly planted trees prone to falling over in high winds during thunderstorms.
  • If you have a shady tree in your garden under which the grass doesn't grow, you can either trim the tree back by 30% to allow increased sunshine, or dig over and plant a small garden of plants that do not require direct sunlight/ A paved or stone area under the tree. might also be an idea.
  • Rainforest groupings, Calathea, Maranta, Nephrolepis. Philodendrons, Asplenium are most suitable plants for a small tropical garden that does not get much sunlight.
  • In order to create some color in a garden of leafy green plants you should choose local plant family groups, which provide the best chance of flowering in Jakarta. Harsh environmental conditions, such as intense sunlight or rain, limit non native plants' ability to thrive and produce blooms. A well-planned garden with a variety of flowers and a variety of green shades of  leaves can increase native bird and butterfly populations – even in the big cities of Jakarta and Surabaya.
  • As most plants drop leaves, palm species are the most suitable variety for planting around a swimming pool to provide greenery but nor drop leaves into the water.
  • Some unscrupulous plant vendors sell plants in pots that actually have no roots. This plants will end up dying within a very short period of bringing them home. Some gardeners that are hired to landscape have also been know to plant shrubs or small trees in the tin or plastic container that they were growing in at the time of planting. This effects the health of the plant and restricts the future growth of the plant. If you have a plant that seems to be unhealthy, the problem might be below the soil out of sight. Establish a good relationship with one or two suppliers or landscapers in order to avoid this problem.
  • If you have a young child who likes to put everything in his mouth, you need to be wary of plants that have poisonous leaves. Keep toddlers away from plants unknown to you. Some poisonous plants commonly found in Jakarta gardens include Plumeria or frangipani (Kamboja), Oleandar (Kembang Mentega), Dieffenbachia or dumb cane (Pohon Bahagia), Caladium (Keladi) and many other less common varieties.
  • Not very many plants grow well indoors.  If you will be turning your air conditioner on and off, plants do not do well with fluctuating temperatures.
  • If you are living in an apartment, you may like to have some potted plants inside or on your balcony. Plants that are suitable to grow in pots include: small palms, ferns, philodendrons, codaieum, dieffenbachia, and orchids.
  • The orchids that you can buy in Jakarta are beautiful and quite inexpensive compared to overseas prices. . You can get them to keep flowering by giving them plant food regularly. Keep them in a good airy spot with top ups of local coal.

Our thanks to Colliers International for their generous contribution of this article!

Last updated January 29, 2014

Housing and schooling information for expats in Indonesia expatriate website for Indonesia Indonesian language translation of article

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

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