Winter Growing Cannabis in South Africa can be tough and rewarding. This guide will teach you how grow a dank cold temperature crop.

Winter can be surprisingly cold, warm, wet or dry in South Africa. Which means that is typically a terrible time to grow some ganja outdoors. The low temps in many areas stalls growth and the shorter days can cause fluffy buds. Although you could end up with some tight nugs that are frostier than a winter morning lawn. This is definitely not for beginners as an existing good grip of the basics is essential. My grow guide 101 and outdoor planting calendar are excellent places to begin. But don’t let me hold you back, fortune favours the brave and there’s nothing wrong with getting your grow on 420 24/7 365. So let’s get on with all you need to know about…

Winter Growing Cannabis in South Africa

Pulling off a good winter crop is well within reach for most South Africans. Some growers even prefer winter growing as their area may experience summers that are too hot or humid. Winter presents an ideal opportunity to double tap your season or play it safe by avoiding summer rainfalls. Here are some of the key ingredients to making your winter grow worth the effort.


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Lower your expectations

Don’t aim for personal bests or anything like that. Particularly if this is your first attempt. Be realistic and keep your chin up. Once you have a winter grow or two under the belt you can raise your expectations and results. You will soon come to understand the conditions and genetics that best work for you. Aim for cultivars (aka strains) that have short flowering times and can withstand the lower temperatures. Sativa are not ideal for winter growing in cold climates.

Which winter cannabis genetics to grow?

Your best bet is to go with Auto-flowering or Indica dominant genetics. Here’s a really handy guide that explain genetics in more detail. Planting seeds directly outside in winter will lead to a few weeks of vegetative (leafy) growth and then the beginning of the flower cycle. If you put clones out they will go straight to flowering. Flowering will last 7 to 10 weeks and the plants should then be ready for harvest. Try to plant more seeds or clones than you think you will need as plants are likely to be small. It is better to have more plants than you need as any excess can be easily removed.

winter growing cannabis in south africa

Time it right

Winter growing isn’t all about challenging yourself with the toughest conditions possible. It’s more about finding that seasonal gap in your garden or greenhouse to double tap a harvest. A time when you may otherwise not have been getting your ganja gardener on. Firstly, take a look at your area’s rainfall and temperature patterns. Environments with consistently high humidity of 90% plus or low temperatures that barely make it past 15•c for weeks on end are no good. Secondly, if you plant too late in winter your plants will start to flower, get mixed signals about the spring days getting longer and then go back into re-vegetative growth. Restarting its leafy growth vibes and ruining those buds that were flowering so nicely. Pick a time that has potential and start from there.

You should also time when you feed or foliar spray plants. I have found early morning feeding and sprays to be the most effect. Select a warm day so that plants have a fair chance to dry off before sunset.

Mulch and covering are king

Remember, you aren’t just growing plants. You are growing roots. These unseen networks are vital to plant health. And just like the plants they do not like getting freezing cold. The ground or pots that you use should be insulated. Some mulch or garden fabric is very affordable and goes a long to keeping your roots warm.

winter growing cannabis in south africa

Some frost guard or greenhouse plastic is excellent for keeping rainfall and cold temperatures off of plants. A structure or stakes around the plants make it easy to cover them without damaging the flowers. Special care should be taken to not cover excessively. Cannabis thrives on strong light and consistent airflow. Use your judgement and watch out for pests such as powdery mildew or bud rot when covering plants for long periods.

Make the most of the light

Winter days are shorter providing less available light for photosynthesis. Plant in areas that receive as much direct sunlight as possible. Avoid shady or covered areas as this causes thin plants and low yielding flowers. Moving plants in and out could protect them from cold nights. Be careful of providing light during the night as little bit of light may do more harm than good. Possibly causing reveg or lanky  plants. Pay special care to the quality and cycle of any supplemental lighting.

The perks and purps

One of the perks of winter growing are the colours that plants are likely to express. You can expect hues of red, purple and black. With purple being the dominant colour. This certainly goes a long way to making the white of the trichomes really pop on the dark background of the buds. But while colors are novel they should not be a priority for growers. Yellows and purples could be a result of nutrient or PH imbalances. Focus on genetics that meet you needs with colour purely as a perk.

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Another perk is that there are probably no males plants growing nearby during winter. This means that you will not need to worry about rogue pollen seeding your sensi crop. On the other hand it means that it could be a greet time to run your own breeding project as there is no random pollen to deal with.

Pests and problems

The ideal growing environment that you create for your winter grow may also become a haven for some pests. Care should always be given to looking out for issues any time of the year. Spider mites, gnats, aphids, powdery mildew and bud rot can still easily damage your crop. Stick to your treatment schedule and avoid foliar spraying during high humidity or very cold days. Sticky strips are an excellent way to passively deal with bugs. While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) provides far more optimized solutions that target specific pests.

Please visit our blog for more for more info  on how to grow dank nugs.

What are your top tips for winter growing cannabis in South Africa?