Can you help me identify plants of Karoo

jxa44April 22, 2003


I'm changing my garden style from cottage garden (needs too much water) to plants from mountaneous regions of the world. It seems that Karoo SA is very much like the mountains I live in in California. Can anyone help me identify plant that grow well in Karoo?


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Could you be more specific as to your climate? Latitude and elevation would be plenty.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 10:43AM
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And also rainfall, when and how much, please.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 1:44PM
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I am in northern california -- don't know the latitude, but we are up around 3000'. We get winter rains of 66"-70" (October - March), and winter freezes/snow (usually Feb/March). Summer temps average 90+ degress (July/August).

Does this help?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 1:49PM
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How hard are these freezes? What's your minimum temperature in winter?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 6:09PM
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Mid 20s and when it snows it usually sticks for about a month . . .

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 6:55PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Given your regular snow/freezes and high rainfall, you are not really that similar to the Karoo, which is less cold in winter and much drier in general. Few South African shrubby perennials will handle your conditions, and even fewer succulents. Even the winter growing bulbs will be subject to freeze damage. The South African plants that will handle your cold are mostly from the higher elevations in the Drakensburg Mountains, which get their rainfall primarily in the summer months, and will therefor prefer water in the summer to do well for you.

You are probably in a Sunset zone 7 climate, which translates to winter lows ranging from 23 to 9F or -5 to -13C temps in winter. I will leave it to others who grow South African plants tolerant of these winter lows to make suggestions, the majority of South African plants I grow are limited to USDA zones 8/9/10, with fewer from zone 8.

Kniphofia uvaria is one plant that comes to mind as perfectly happy in your climate, but will act as a winter deciduous perennial that may need mulching in winter, rather than the evergreen it typically remains here in coastal California. Coleonema pulchrum is also listed as hardy for Sunset zone 7, but I know it has been damaged at 24F in hard freezes here in the SF Bay Area.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 6:58PM
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Thanx for the Info Bahia! I realize that finding just the right plants will be like finding eggs on an easter hunt -- but when you do, it's sooooooooo satisfying!

Funny you should mention Kniphofia uvaria. I have two plants are are doing great. Actually, i've planted some kangaroo paw plants that made it through the winter too -- it didn't snow here this season, and I think I've probably taken good advantage of one of the micro climates in my yard.

Again, many thanx for your information.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2003 at 12:35AM
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modjadje(Willamette Valley Zone 8)

Hello Joyce,
I garden in southwestern Oregon, near Cave Junction, at 1600 ft elevation. We had snow falling for 2 solid days, first week of April (it was rare, I'm told, but it happens). Apparently you did not get any?
If you don't mind, tell me near what town you live and i will have a fairly good idea of how to compare your situation with mine. Being an expatriate South African, i know the plants well and can recommend which ones to try. Yes, our climate is very far from that of the Karroo as the Karroo plants have evolved to do the best they can with very sparse rainfall which falls in spring or summer. Here, plants must be able to handle very soggy while cold conditions during the winter, and we as the gardeners have to give them water during our mediterranean summers.
Some of the bulbs, like some Nerines, and Amaryllis Belladonna, actively grow during the wet winter and goes dormant during the dry summer. Mine stayed green all of this past winter.
Kniphofia stayed green in pots on my uncovered deck, even though late October had a spell of 14 degree F. min. temps for several days in a row.
It seems my one Melianthus villosus has died; the other is resprouting from the roots, but they seem to be too marginal to do well here.
Ixia, Sparaxis, Babiana, Watsonia, and Homerus collinia are all green right now and not flowering yet, but they are hardy enough.
Well, hope this helps. Delina

    Bookmark   April 26, 2003 at 5:00PM
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georgeinbandonoregon(z9 OR)

there are a number of s.a. succulents that should do well under your conditions like ruchsia and delopspermum---places like and sunscape nursery (also on the web) stock many different species and genera that are hardy in the denver area and should do equally well wherever you are. standard mediterranean plants like rosemary, thyme, sage (including some of the mexican and native california species), santalina, lavender, and germander would make excellent drought-tolerant companions. natives like ceanothus and arctostaphyllos would also be fine associates. two south africa buddlejas (butterfly bushes) b. loricata and b. saligna might be worth trying at least as die-back perrennials although they might be somewhat more water demanding under your conditions. since you have also queried other forums on suitable australian species, euc. urnigera, gunnii, glaucescens, pauciflora, perrinniana, niphophila, neglecta, camphora, archeri, and parvula are relatively cold-hardy and the bottle brushes callistemon subulatus, seiberi, and viridiflorus would be hardy species to try. and stock most of those species and many more for that matter.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2003 at 11:24PM
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We our elevation is ~3000'. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) this year we didn't get any snow -- lots of hail, but no snow. Last year we got about a foot in late January/early Febrluary which stuck for about a month. Our winter temperatures are normally mid 20s, which is quite a contrast from our summer temps of 90 degrees plus. Additionally, we get quite a lot of rain 60"-70" per season mostly in the late winter/early spring. The soil is in large part decomposing granite; so it drains well.

I am able to grow Nerines, crinum, Amaryllis Belladonna, Kniphofia, and Melianthus -- the melianthus, when in bloom, attracts the hummers from miles around :-) I planted watsonia last year, which seems to be doing quite well, but with this being an atypical winter season, they really haven't been tested for hardiness yet. I've ordered (but have not yet received) ixia, Sparaxis, Babiana, Watsonia, and Homerus collinia -- great minds think alike! Thanx for your suggestions.


I'll have to whip out my high country gardens catalog. For some reason, I didn't think of looking through their catalog (even though I know they specialize in xeriscape plants). Excellent suggestion!

You've made suggestions of plants (and nurseries) that I haven't considered -- thank you. It's been a blast surfing the net to try to find plants from around the world that will beautify my garden.

For anyone who may be following this thread for plant ideas in their own gardens, the plants that I grow (and do well in my garden) from George's suggested list of plants are: lavender, rosemary thyme, sage, ceanothus and bottle brush plants.

Thanx to all for your wonderful suggestions!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 12:38PM
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