South Africa has typical Southern Hemisphere weather with the coldest months being June, July and August. These winter temperatures may reach the freezing point at high altitude, but are at their most mild in coastal regions, particularly the Kwazulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces. While the Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall, most of the country experiences summer rain. South Africa is a sunny country with an average of about 9 hours daily sunshine in most regions, and an average annual rainfall for of about 464mm. But just because winter is cold and mostly dry, does not mean your garden has to die. There are plenty of plants that survive winter in South Africa, and here is a list of winter plants and vegetables that will survive the colder temperatures.
Vegetables to plant in the Winter
Green onions – Scallions are the best green onions to grow during the winter because it is a hardy plant, which greatly depends on soil fertility rather than the presiding environmental condition for growth. Due to a long growing period, your scallions will still be undergrowth in spring and start being ready for harvest in the early summer.
Garlic – It is one of the easiest vegetables to plant in winter months. Garlic also tends to take longer to mature and planting them in late autumn or early winter will have them ready for harvest in early summer.
Spring onions – They grow fast (faster than garlic and green onions) and will be ready for harvest at the end of the winter season. They make one of the best vegetables to include in winter given to their high nutritious value.
Peas – The Green pea is one of the most nutritious spring vegetables, but then you have to consider planting peas at the end of autumn. Peas require a well-drained and a fertile soul for effective growth.
Cold Hardy Flowers
English Primrose, Pansies, Violas, Snowdrops, Catmint, Coneflower, Winter Jasmine, Hellebores, Pieris, Witch Hazel, Winterberry, Camellia, Glory of the Snow, Winter Aconite, Cyclamen, Pussy Willow, Leucojum, Mohania.
Gardening Tips for Winter
- Plant bulbs that flower in the spring.
- Pull up any dying plants / remove dead leaves.
- Drain garden hoses and irrigation systems so water does not freeze inside.
- Compost the leaves you rake from your yard.
- Label your garden so you know where not to plant come spring.
- Spread compost throughout your garden to provide it with a blast of nutrients to last the winter.
After the first killing frost, cut back perennials (plants that live longer than 2 years). Do not do this too early, you could deprive your plant of nutrients it needs to survive the winter
Before the first freeze, cover the garden with mulch to protect the plants from harsh temperatures. (but don’t do this too early. If you do, mice may take up residence in the mulch and feed on your plants. Give the mice time to find other winter homes.)