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Your Monthly Gardening Checklist: Late Autumn to Winter

As the days grow shorter and the temperatures begin to dip, South African gardeners prepare for the transition from the vibrant blooms of summer to the serene beauty of autumn and winter. Contrary to popular belief, these cooler months offer a wealth of opportunities for gardeners to tend to their beloved green spaces, ensuring that they remain healthy, vibrant, and ready to flourish come springtime. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore in detail the tasks, plant selections, and essential tools needed to nurture your garden through the autumn and winter seasons in South Africa.

Understanding the Seasons: Autumn and Winter in South Africa

South Africa’s diverse geography and climate zones mean that the transition from autumn to winter varies across the country (autumn from March to May, and winter from June to August). In the Western Cape, autumn and winter bring cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, while inland regions experience more pronounced temperature drops and occasional frost. Coastal areas generally enjoy milder winters, while the Highveld and other inland regions can experience freezing temperatures and even snowfall.

May: Preparing for the Change

As the first hints of winter appear, it’s time to prepare your garden for the cooler months ahead. May marks the beginning of this transition, and there are several essential tasks to tackle:

Garden Cleanup:

  1. Remove any dead or spent plants from your garden beds, clearing the way for new growth. Consider investing in a sturdy spadeand fork to do so.
  2. Consider investing in a Telescopic Deluxe Straight Blade Hedge shearfor reaching tall or dense shrubs and hedges with ease.
  3. Use a Trimtech trimmer to trim flower bed edges and grass surrounding paved areas, maintaining the overall aesthetics of your garden.
  4. Gather organic debris for composting, utilising aLong Handle Tree Pruner and Saw to trim branches for the compost pile.

Soil Enrichment:

  1. Enrich your soil with compostor well-rotted manure to replenish nutrients depleted during the summer growing season.
  2. Use a pressure sprayer to apply liquid fertilisers evenly throughout your garden beds, ensuring optimal soil health.


  1. Apply a thick layer of organic mulch (e.g. bark or shredded leaves) to garden beds to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the plant roots from temperature fluctuations.

Plant Selection:

  1. In May, it’s crucial to choose cold-hardy vegetables that can withstand the winter chill. You can also enhance your garden’s visual appeal with cold-tolerant flowers.

Vegetables to Plant:

  1. Broad beans and peas: Hardy legumes that can handle cooler weather.
  2. Garlic and onions:Essential kitchen staples that develop well over cooler months.
  3. Root vegetables: Such as carrots, beetroot, and turnips — ideal for sowing now as they thrive in cooler soil.
  4. Leafy greens: Including spinach, Swiss chard, red mustard, butter lettuce and kale, which can tolerate light frosts. These can also be planted in potsto add dimension to your garden.

Flowers to Plant:

  1. Pansiesand violas: Colourful options that can withstand cold.
  2. Snapdragons and primulas: Provide bright blooms through cooler weather.

Additionally: Besides these flowers, you can consider sowing bellis, ornamental kale, poppies, wildflowers, gazania, dianthus, and lupins.

For our range of seeds, click here. You might also be interested in our guide to incorporating edibles into your ornamental garden. 

June: Mid-Winter Maintenance

  1. It’s almost time for the first solstice of the year (around 20 June). June brings cooler temperatures, shorter days and less sunlight, signalling the need for continued care and maintenance of your garden:

Pruning and Protection:

  1. Prune deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen, using quality tools like the Trimtech Chainsawfor precise cuts.
  2. Protect sensitive plants from frost by covering them with frost cloth or straw, ensuring they remain healthy and undamaged. Alternatively, opt for a grow house or greenhouse.

Plant Selection:

  1. Now is the time of the year to sow strategically, opting for winter vegetables, hardy herbs and flowers for additional colour. Invest in a three-piece prunerset to maintain the health and shape of your plants, ensuring optimal growth and productivity.

Vegetables to Plant:

  1. Brasicca: Can be started early in the season for late winter harvest. Consider cauliflower and broccoli.
  2. Mustard greens and collards: Robust greens that continue to produce in cold weather.
  3. Leeks:Excellent for deeper planting and known for their hardiness in cold.

Herbs to Plant:

  1. Parsley, sage, and thyme:Not only are they hardy, but also continue to provide fresh flavours throughout the winter.
  2. Mint:Though it can spread, mint is easy to grow and thrives if contained.

Flowers to Plant:

  1. Iceland poppies and cineraria:Add splashes of colour even in the coldest months.
  2. Foxgloves: Biennial plants that can be sown now for beautiful blooms the following year.

Additionally: Besides these flowers, you can consider sowing camellias, winter roses, dianthus, and violets.

July: Future Planning

As winter deepens, gardeners turn their attention to preparations for the coming spring in September:

  1. Check and Repair: Inspect any garden infrastructure such as trellises, fences, and stakes to ensure they are secure ahead of the windy, [and in some parts of South Africa] rainy season. It will prevent damage during storms.
  2. Pest and Disease Watch: Keep an eye out for signs of pests and diseases, especially if you’re in the coastal regions of the Western Cape. Cooler, wetter weather can often lead to an increase in certain fungal diseases and pest infestations.
  3. Feeding: While most plants slow down in winter, those that are growing, like citrus and other fruit-bearing plants, will benefit from a boost. Using a balanced, slow-release fertiliser can help support their growth through the colder months.

Plant Selection:

Now is the time to opt for spring-flowering bulbs, anticipating the colourful display they will bring in the months ahead.

Vegetables to Plant:

  1. Early potatoes: Can be planted now in frost-free areas for an early spring harvest.
  2. Peas and broad beans:Continue sowing these for a continuous crop.

Additionally: Continue planting beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers, celery, garlic, lettuce, radishes, onions and spinach.

Flowers to Plant:

  1. Bulbs: Such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths, which need to be in the ground by mid-July at the latest. You might also be interested in reading our [insert bulb blog].
  2. Lilies and freesias:Provide beautiful fragrances and colours early in spring.
  3. Ranunculus and anemones:For vibrant blooms that pop in the early spring landscape.
  4. Additionally: Incorporate poppies, lupins, wildflowers, and calendula into your garden. In warm areas, petunias and impatiens can be sown too. You might also be interested in reading more about how to create a natural meadow in your backyard.

Looking Forward to The Warmer Seasons 

As the seasons change and temperatures drop, the secret to a successful South African garden is to plan for the future. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide and utilising essential tools and equipment tailored to the needs of your garden, you can ensure that your outdoor oasis remains healthy, vibrant, and ready to flourish come springtime. So roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening gloves, and embrace the beauty of autumn and winter in South Africa as you tend to your beloved garden with care and dedication.

Remember to visit your nearest MakroBuilder’s Warehouse or Game for all the tools you need to create a luscious winter garden. Follow us on FacebookInstagram and TikTok for more gardening trends and tips.