A Maltese Mediterranean Climate - Four Seasons In The Garden | Green Patches - Mediterranean Gardening

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Maltese Mediterranean Climate - Four Seasons In The Garden

Coming from an island smack in the middle of the Mediterranean, we learn from an early age in school that our climate has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.  I have discovered, however, that the Mediterranean Climate is also shared by other countries that are  very far away from this tiny island.  Places like South Africa, Australia, Chile and California.  I have also learnt that despite having the same climate, each country has a different version of it depending on its geographical location.
So here is some geography to start off with.  We live on an island which is around 320 square kilometers surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.  We have no mountains, no rivers and no lakes.  We are also one of the top countries in the world with the highest population density.   

The temperatures here can vary between 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in a Winter night to 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) in a Summer afternoon.  We have never seen snow or frost, but we get the occasional hail storm.  Humidity can reach up to 99%, and we get gale force winds sometimes, which are becoming more frequent as time goes by.  

To the Maltese gardener, this means that we can garden all year round, but I must say, it is not always easy.  Here is one year in what I'm calling a Maltese Mediterranean Climate, and it's effects on my garden.  

Mild, Wet Winters

Winter is a very stressful time for us.  In December the weather is still pretty mild with temperatures hovering around 18 - 16 degrees Celsius.  We can have a week of blissful sunshine where you are required to water your plants, only to get two days of torrential rain in the weekend.  Here in Malta it never just drizzles, it's either cloudy or pouring down every half an hour.  I keep a good watch on my plants due to the sunny spells, but I  mostly never end up watering them unless it has been particularly warm.

This weather goes on well into mid-January when the temperatures start dropping, and we get more cloudy days than sunny ones.  January and February are the coldest months of the year, and the plants in my yard are all fast asleep by now. This year however, I had a few exceptions as both my Kalanchoes bloomed with flowers this Winter.  Rain is also on the increase in January, so I pretty much let everything be.

kalanchoe flowers
Kalanchoe in January

kalanchoe marmorata flowers
Marmorata Flowers in January

February is when it all goes haywire.  It can get very windy for days on end.  The plants here are at its mercy if you don't shelter them, blowing away every bit of moisture from the soil.  The only problem is that as soon as the wind stops, the heavens open, and it starts pouring down again.  This time of year I don't do anything to the plants in my yard because they are quite sheltered from the wind, the plants I keep on my roof however, appear windswept and lifeless this time of year.  


Just when you think you cannot get enough of the wind and the rain, March comes, and Spring comes along with it.  We still get windy days on occasion, but the rain starts slowing down, and we get frequent sunny spells.  As the temperatures start rising my plants start showing signs of life.  Small leaves and buds start to appear everywhere as if the plants are waking from hibernation.

April usually brings more rain, however, the days start getting longer, and the sun gets warmer.  During this time, I keep an eye on new growth on my plants, particulary the Plumbago, which is reduced to a few sticks in Winter, and now starts growing its first leaves again.  I still don't need to water them though.

May comes in like a blessing.  The rain stops altogether now, and we get sunny periods almost every day.  The temperature is around 20 - 25 degrees Celsius at this time, and the plants in my yard start flourishing.  For me this is the best month of the year, when it is not too hot or too cold (by our standards), and everything comes to life.

Basil sprouting in Spring

plumbago flowers
Plumbago Starts Flowering

Hot, Dry Summers

June usually hits us hard.  We can get very hot days out of nowhere, and this is around the time I need to get my plants off the roof altogether.  The heat scorches the leaves which are still growing, and I need to get them in the shade fast.  Outside in the country you can see the flowering fields already losing color, unless they are tended to.

July and August are the worst.  We may get a rainy day on occasion, but if it does it is warm, and brings down a ton of dust that has accumulated over the country.  The wind also starts playing up during this time, and it is also warm and dusty coming in from our North African neighbors.

My plants are in a shady spot in the yard, but the lack of air flow, and the warm conditions make daily watering a must.  They are however in full bloom now, and I get lots of flowers on my Plumbago, the Schefflera keeps growing new leaves every day, and the succulents, well, they just love the hot temperatures.  This time I do the most trimming to keep everything in shape.  Our countryside has lost all its color now and everything is burnt to a crisp, except for the evergreens.

Best Plant of the Summer

Spiders Love The Summer Heat


Autumn for us is just an extension of Summer.  September is a little cooler, but people are still going to the beach, and we hardly get any rain.  I do some pruning in September to get the plants ready for the Winter months.

October and November are perhaps the worst months of the year.  The days get shorter, we are still lingering from the hot Summer days, and the temperatures are still warm, but we get howling winds and frequent rainfall.  Our countryside starts getting green again, which is perhaps the only good thing about these two months.

Some of my plants get a second growth spurge during this time, waking up from the hot summer sun glad to be getting some rainfall.  My Plumbago starts shedding its foliage, and the last remaining flowers lose colour from the lack of sunshine.  I take the plant back up on the roof to get the last bit of sun before it sheds all its leaves, getting ready for Winter.  The Schefflera may grow a few more leaves before going dormant.  Some leaves don't get to fully develop before Winter, so they stay small until the next year.  Just as they are about settled in for Winter, December comes once again with its sunny days, and we start all over again.

My Succulents Getting Drenched

The Schefflera Just Loves The Rain

How's your climate?

So there it is, one year in a Mediterranean Climate, Maltese style.  What's your climate like? If you also share a Mediterranean Climate, is it any different, or the same?  Feel free to share, and no matter what your climate is like, happy gardening :)


  1. Thank you for sharing your seasons and giving us a sense of what it is like on Malta. It must be a wonderful place to live, the climate lets you garden all year. Looking at the map really makes it clear that this climate, although shared by other places, is pretty widespread across the world. I would miss no mountains, rivers and lakes, but island living sounds pretty nice. Our climate really varies from -20° to 102° in any given year. I like the snow and would miss that too.

  2. That was fascinating. I am awed by your detailed observations of the weather. Our plants rest in the summer heat, but they don't go dormant, just look sulky. Now with the coolth and rain we have a green jungle with flowers. Very unwilling to prune my roses, as recommended, next month.

  3. I enjoyed learning about your climate! I think it would be wonderful to live by the Mediterranean! I also love your plumbago! Here in Alabama, USA, the summers are also very hot and humid. We are semi-tropical, and summers are very green. We sometimes have dry spells, but often we are fortunate to get afternoon thunderstorms, which help to decrease the watering chores. Fall is very colorful with deciduous leaves turning colors. We have short, mild, wet winters, too, though we do get frost and the occasional snow. And spring is wonderful, except we live in a tornado prone area, and that can be deadly.

  4. Thanks for sharing :) Donna, I would not last a minute in a temperature of -20, we are not used to the cold I'm afraid. Diana, I guess having just a few plants to tend to makes variations in weather, or the effect of it, more apparent. Deb, sounds like you get to enjoy all four seasons. I always thought it must to be great to have the seasons more pronounced, we only seem to have two seasons really, Winter and Summer.

  5. You have some really tough weather to deal with but it sounds like you take it in stride. I hate to say it but I think our climate in the mid-Atlantic US is one of the best in the world for gardening. We have four pronounced seasons: winters are somewhat cold but not too bad with occasional snow, spring is gorgeous with good amounts of rain, summers can be hot and dry but it always rains again in early fall, fall is heavenly with clear blue skies, cool temperatures, and plenty of rain.