Gardening in Malaysia

Rats’ revenge and large leaping lizards

I have been gardening a lot recently.

Rats have started to come into our driveway at night. Two or three of them.  If we leave the light on to discourage them, moths come instead.  So I put out a rat trap last night.  Then it rained, the rain soaked the bait – bread – and it fell to the bottom of the cage. Thus a rat could get the bread without getting caught. But it seemed to understand it was a trap, and wreaked revenge on our pot plants – digging up five or six small plants and leaving a mess.

Meanwhile, a neighbour created a garden at the back, and we have been planting various things in it.  In the afternoons two large (camera-shy) lizards appear.  They’re two or three feet long. They seem to have discovered the new garden, and they dig a little – somehow they seem to like digging up an onion we planted, but they don’t eat it. We replant it, and they dig it up again. But they are cute.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in April 2017

“It’s been very dry and hot recently – fairly normal for this time of year.” This is what I wrote last year.

This year it’s been very hot – but with rain sometimes.


little eggplant and flowers

kobu lime

grape vine

back garden doing well

papaya and citrus and basil and lemongrass

tomato is just surviving and has little toomatoes growing, but passion fruit seems fine

Bougainvillea as usual

Roselle grown from seed

Bougainvillea as usual



mock orange

limes picked

lime tree; mock orange have grown bigger – so most pots are just on the floor now

papaya growing

passion fruit vines resting on mock orange

passion fruit growing

and flowers, too


canna lily

pots left over now plants have grown

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in March 2017

After Chinese New Year the weather remained hot and dry until about a week ago, when it has started again to rain most days.

With a lot of watering plants survived, but for one very sick plumbago. The first is a photo of it last month.


And a photo now. I have pruned it.  Let’s see how it goes.

very sick plumbago


otherwise doing well

And papaya are coming up. I planted them in four places.  Today I culled them down to three plants per spot. Later I will cull them down to one per spot.


eggplant plant has been attacked by mealy bugs

this lime tree has done really well with lots of limes now

we’ve cultivated these and have a lot now, all doing well

the grape vine

so many flowers on the mock oranges

duranta is happy

we’ve cultivated these, too, and all are well



we use rosemary a lot in cooking now

the passion fruit vines are still fruiting.  They should be out of season, but they were also growing this time last year.  I have pruned the vines back a bit and cut off the dead wood.

baby passion fruit

and this lime tree has a lot of full size limes, and many tiny ones growing

Canna Lily is a bit quiet at the moment

I’m growing this smaller papaya for decoration.  I just cleaned a lot of mealy bugs off it

In the last month all remaining pumpkin vines dided off, without producing anything.  They usually don’t at this time of year, anyway.


Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in February 2017

During my almost nine years living in Malaysia I have always remembered Chinese New Year as hot and dry.  But since September last year it has been cool and wet. This year CNY came quite early. But nevertheless right on cue the weather became, yes, hot and dry.

So now I have to make the effort to water plants, which I haven’t had to do much of for quite a while.

Some plants are wilting a bit as they’re not used to the sun, but most are OK.

So nothing much has changed, except that we could use some of a neighbour’s garden to plant some citrus trees, hibiscus bushes, lemon grass and so on.  Here are some photos of them.










Dealing with rats then wasps


While we were away in Pangkor Island rats took advantage of the quiet and moved into our ceiling.  Web sites say lay traps to catch them, but they were too smart / not hungry – anyway, they didn’t work.

What we found did work was simply keeping on a light that would illuminate the cavity area.  Brilliant! They moved out and haven’t been back.




Yesterday afternoon I noticed a local building issuing a lot of smoke – but it wasn’t fogging for mosquitoes, and it wasn’t on fire.  An hour or two later we noticed a wasp / bee nest on a branch of one of our large potted trees.  Scary.

I checked the web for self-help solutions, combined ideas, and then did the following:

I moved all other plants away so they wouldn’t get sprayed

Trimmed the tree a little, but wasps were flying around so I couldn’t get very close, and couldn’t do a good job.

Waited until dusk, when they would be less active, but I could still see a little

Turned outside lights on that were not in the direction I would stand

Had a quick escape route if necessary

Ensured I had antihistamines nearby in case of multiple stings.  You can also put ice on stings to help.

Mapped out a route to the nearest hospital in my mind, so I could quickly drive there if necessary

Got two cans of insect spray – for bigger insects like flies etc.

Put on thick socks, Wellington boots, thick trousers, shirt, scarf around neck, hat, raincoat, plastic poncho with hood, gardening gloves – in light colours as they prefer dark colours, and it’s also easier to see if any land on you if your clothes are light.  Kind of like a Ghostbuster outfit

There was very little movement at the nest by now – they were tired after a hard day moving house, I guess

Stood up wind about six feet / two metres from the nest and then directed both sprays against the nest.  The nest appeared to be wasps sitting on wasps all the way to the centre of the nest, so the whole thing just collapsed into an array of bodies on the floor after spraying for a minute or two.  Most were not moving, but some were – very few flew, and none landed on me. I sprayed in the air around me, then moved a little closer and sprayed the floor where the moving ones were

An hour later I returned and washed the bodies away, washed all the foliage of the plants to try to remove insecticide, and washed the floor – which was slippery

The next morning I strung up brown paper bags in the gardens as wasps won’t set up house near where other nests are, and they think the paper bags are nests.  When it rains they’ll become soggy, but in all the years we’ve been here this is the first problem we’ve had with wasps, so it’s unlikely we’ll have another anytime soon.  I just didn’t want any wasps that might have survived returning to set up home again.

And I moved all plants back and watered them

This all worked and I wasn’t stung at all.  Here is a dead one the next morning.


And a fake wasp home


Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in January 2017

Well, again not so much has changed. Every time I think the wet season has ended it rains again.  It has been cool and rainy for most of January, too.  But a lot of Malaysia has been flooding, which thankfully we’re not having a problem with.

rainy sometimes, dry and sunny sometimes and they seem to do OK

rainy sometimes, dry and sunny sometimes and they seem to do OK

rainy sometimes, dry and sunny sometimes and they seem to do OK

rainy sometimes, dry and sunny sometimes and they seem to do OK

small Crepe Ginger are growing well

small Crepe Ginger are growing well

lime is flowering and fruiting

lime is flowering and fruiting and growing new leaves

I'm pruning the passion fruit vines now

I’m pruning the passion fruit vines now

however, there are still a few passion fruit growing, and some new flowers, too

however, there are still a few passion fruit growing, and some new flowers, too

smaller mock orange are flowering

smaller mock orange are flowering

grape vine growing - a grasshopper was eating it until we caught it

grape-vine growing – a grasshopper was eating it until we caught it

the best thing this month is the egg plant plant

the best thing this month is the egg-plant plant

lots of tiny eggplants to put in curry

lots of tiny eggplants to put in curry

So it’s been about six months now with not too many changes.  As that’s how long it’s been rainy and cool.