Gardening in Malta

Buskett Gardens Malta

Gardening in Malta is a very popular activity. People in Malta love their homes, and therefore many people practice gardening on some level to provide greater charm to their houses. The country, notwithstanding its size, also offers many beautiful public gardens that people can visit to observe the calmness of nature and get some relaxing time away from the busy traffic of towns and cities.

Malta is also home to a considerable number of garden centres that provide gardeners with all the tools and supplies needed to practice gardening at home.

Gardening in Malta is shaped by a hot, dry Mediterranean climate. The Maltese islands are also a target of strong winds throughout the year, and sometimes gardening in Malta can be a challenge.

When starting your garden in Malta, you need to choose plants that you know can survive in your home or garden. If you have plenty of shade or indirect light in your outside garden, then many plants are appropriate, including Mexican Petunia, Vinca, Spider plant, Hibiscus, Aloe vera, Ficus trees, Pothos, Arrowhead plant, Coleus, Hoya and herbs such as Basil.

Hibiscus in Malta
Hibiscus in Malta by loveforgardens.com

On the other hand, if your garden has direct sun for most of the day, you might need to opt for more durable trees, such as Olive trees or Lemon trees that can survive in the strong Maltese sun. Bay Laurel Trees are also an option.

The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a plant grown commonly in the Mediterranean and used in many cooking recipes, especially stews. In Malta, it is usually called siġra tar-rand or simply rand. Internationally, it is known by different names, including Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay and Grecian Laurel. It has a particular smell and gives a strong aromatic flavour to many meat-based dishes, for example, rabbit stew (stuffat tal-fenek in Maltese).

Keeping your plants, trees and flowers watered through the year is important. Rain is a rare commodity in Malta, and gardening in Malta requires you to be very careful in your watering activity.

Sure, there is no fixed rule or schedule to adhere to. After all, most plants have different requirements, and the changing weather also adds to the equation. In the end, you need to get to know your plants well, however one standard test is the finger test.

Put your finger in the soil for 2 or 3 centimetres and feel if the soil is dry. If it is, then chances are the plant needs some water, otherwise, avoid overwatering as it can easily kill a plant. Keep in mind that if a plant is very dry and urgently needs water, chances are you can save it. On the other hand, if you overwater the plant, it can start to rot and there is very little you can do.

Gardening in Malta also has a long tradition of indoor plants. People in Malta are known to love their homes and welcome guests, and therefore plants have always been an important part of Maltese homes. Common indoor plants include Dieffenbachia, ZZ plants, Philodendron, herbs, Amaryllis, Calathea and more.

Finding garden centres, plants shops or gardening help is also easy. Some of the biggest names in Malta include Piscopo gardens, Callus Garden centre and Sherries Garden centre, but there are hundreds of others, some of which are also very big. Apart from hundreds of flowers, trees, and plants, you can also find many gardening gifts, tools, and supplies such as wheelbarrows, shovels, pruning shears, garden gloves, pots, planters and so on. In summary, you can rest assured there is always a garden centre near you in Malta.

Plants and Flowers in Malta

Philodendron

Philodendron Plants are very common in Malta, generally grown as indoor plants. Available to purchase from most garden centres in Malta, it is also very easy to propagate. Simply put a thick cutting in water for a few weeks (changing the water frequently) and it will grow roots. When ready, plant gently into a pot with potting mix and water generously in the first few days.

Once the plant feels strong and has accepted its new container, it will only need watering once every few days (when the soil feels dry to touch). I find Philodendron Plants to grow best in indirect sunlight, for example on a windowsill or under a skylight.

Begonia

There are many different varieties of Begonia plants in Malta, and it is a commonly found plant in many Maltese gardens. One of the most requested ones is the Angel Wing Begonia (Ġwejnħet l-Anġlu). It does not enjoy too much water or too much sun and requires good drainage. You can grow an angel wing begonia plant in a plant pot without a saucer or plate to let the excess water drain properly. Be careful when handling this plant, as it can be very delicate.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily, also known as Spathiphyllum is a favourite indoor plant in Malta. It has many advantages, including being full-blooming, air-purifying, and easy to care for. You should aim to keep the soil moist, but not overwatered. The plant needs indirect light to keep strong and its glossy, beautiful leaves.

Anthurium

The Anthurium plant and flowers are incredibly lovely. Their texture sometimes makes the flower look as if it is man-made as it is glossy and almost looks like plastic. There are different varieties and of course sizes, so prices in Malta can vary a lot, from 19 Euros to 50 Euros. Anthurium is particularly well-suited for most homes and needs very high humidity and warmth to thrive. Its low maintenance makes the anthurium plant one of the best plants for homes and offices.

Anthurium flower
Anthurium Photo by Алекке Блажин from Pexels

Poinsettia

Poinsettia is a local favourite in Malta. It is synonymous with the Christmas period in December and is very often given as a gift during this festive season. The most popular ones are the red and white varieties. Poinsettia plants can be pruned in around January to February for them to grow strong again the next year. Poinsettia plants can live for many years, and if planted directly into the ground can also grow very big. The colour of the leaves is green throughout the year, but it will change to red or white in winter if exposed to enough light.

Coleus

The coleus plant is a fast-growing plant with coloured foliage. Is very common in gardens in Malta and widely available at reasonable prices. The coleus plant grows well in indirect lighting with warm conditions and enjoys plenty of water. To propagate the coleus plant, simply cut a thick branch and put in some water for a few weeks, changing the water every few days. Once the branch has developed new roots, simply transfer into a pot with soil, gently planting without harming the roots. This method provides a very high success rate of propagation.

ZZ plant

Stunning, incredible, and majestic. A personal favourite, the ZZ plant is also very easy to maintain. It is usually used as an indoor plant in Maltese homes and offices and kept in indirect light. It requires very little water, sometimes once a month is enough. The plant is immediately recognisable from the shapes of its leaves, and it is a very difficult plant to kill. Nonetheless, it can be very expensive to purchase from a garden centre in Malta.

Narcissus

The Narcissus flower (Narċis in Maltese) is a beautiful flower that grows well in Malta’s Mediterranean climate. Unfortunately, the Narcissus is approaching the danger of extinction from the wild in Malta, as it tends to be over picked because of its beauty. The Narcissus flower is indigenous and thrived on the Maltese islands before people started living in Malta.

Orchid

The Orchid is a very popular flower in Malta, found in the wild but also in many homes and offices. The price of an orchid in Malta can vary widely, depending on size and packaging, however, orchids purchased from florists for special occasions can easily cost between 20 Euros and 40 Euros.

Sunflower

The Sunflower is a commonly grown plant in Maltese gardens. Sunflowers are a wonderful addition to any garden, thanks to their vibrant yellow colours, and are easy to grow and care for. Sometimes it is called Warda tax-Xemx, and in Malta, it tends to flower from July to October.

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe Flowers are extremely popular in Maltese homes and quite cheap to purchase from a plant shop or garden centre. There are many colours available, including pink, orange and red. The Kalanchoe grows best in warm weather and with lots of indirect sunlight.

It can be grown outside or as an inside house plant, however, be careful to water only when the soil feels dry to touch. Too much direct sun can burn the leaves, and too much water can also kill the plant.

Dahlia

Dahlia flowers are highly requested and can be found in most garden centres in Malta to be purchased as bulbs. Their vibrant colours make them an interesting addition to Maltese gardens.

Gardenia

Gardenia plants have waxy, white, and very fragrant flowers. They are one of the most popular indoor plants in Malta.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus plants are one of the favourite plants in the garden of many people, especially in Malta. They are easy to take care of, grow quite quickly and are beautiful to watch every time they open a new flower.

Another bonus is that it usually lives for many years, adding beautiful colour to your garden year after year.

One of the easiest ways to grow a Hibiscus is within a pot or container. This gives you the ability to move around the plant in your house or garden as needed, depending on the temperature and sunlight available.

Under normal circumstances, the Hibiscus plant will need at least six hours of sunlight for the flowers to bloom.

In warm weather or during blooming season, Hibiscus need consistent watering. In warm weather, it will need watering daily, whilst in colder weather, it will need watering only when the soil feels dry after touching. Be careful, however, as too much water can kill the plant.

To provide extra nutrients, one may add some plant food along with watering ideally once every two weeks during Spring and Summer.

The above shows how easy it is to care for a Hibiscus plant. Adding this plant to your garden can add a nice touch of colour that every gardener will be proud to enjoy.

Bird of Paradise

The bird of paradise flower is a prized possession in Malta. Not very common, but incredibly wonderful, it is associated with some of the best gardens in Malta. An evergreen perennial, it is widely cultivated for its breath-taking flowers. The plant needs warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine to produce the distinctive blooms and is therefore ideal for the warm, Mediterranean climate of Malta. Purchasing this from a garden centre can cost around 20 Euros.

Bird of Paradise flower
Bird of Paradise Photo by Thierry Fillieul from Pexels

Monstera

The monstera plant is usually identifiable by the shape of the leaves, although different varieties exist. In Malta, it is a very requested plant, and the larger or rare types can be very expensive to purchase. It is very commonly found and grown as an indoor plant.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum flowers provide vibrant colours and energy to your garden. In Malta, they tend to be popular too. Chrysanthemum plants can be grown in any kind of soil, but they require sunny weather for best performance. They are easily and cheaply available through most garden centres in Malta.

Trees in Malta

Carob

The Carob Tree is very popular in Malta and can be found in many parts of the countryside and fields. It produces a fruit used in sweets and can grow very large and live many years. Mature trees conduct the flowering process around October and November. It is very easy to grow carob trees from seeds, however, be aware it will take many years and the proper environment for the tree to mature and produce the carob fruit.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus plants (‘bajtar tax-xewk’ in Maltese) is a very popular fruit in high demand. Used in fruit salads, desserts, liquors or as a snack, this plant can be found growing across the Maltese islands in the wild and in many fields. Farmers in Malta consider the Prickly Pear as an important part of their produce, and those who cultivate the plant on large scales regard it as an important source of income.

The warm Mediterranean climate with long, dry summers and cool, mild winters are the ideal setup for Prickly Pears, however, be aware. Collecting the fruit can be complicated, and many farmers will dress in thick jackets with thick gloves to avoid being injured with pricks or spines.

Bonsai

Bonsai is an art, technique and tradition also practised in Malta. Bonsai requires special skill and attention and can cost hundreds of euros to purchase even in Malta. Bonsai plants are usually available in the biggest garden centres in Malta.

Herbs in Malta

Mediterranean Thyme

A common herb found in Malta, including in the wild, is the Mediterranean thyme (Sagħtar in Maltese). Thyme is usually found in rocky and arid locations. It is a perennial and evergreen herb and can be found growing throughout the year. It is also very commonly found in Maltese kitchens and gardens, and all sorts of thyme plants are found in most gardening centres in Malta.

Gardens in Malta

San Anton Gardens

San Anton Gardens in Malta is probably the most popular and well-known garden in Malta. Both locals and tourists visit this garden at some point, admiring not only its flowers, trees, and architecture, but also several animals that live in the gardens.

San Anton Gardens is in Attard, in the centre of the island. This garden has been open to the public since 1882 and was originally constructed by Grand Master Antoine de Paule as an addition to his summer residence. Interestingly, the palace within the garden is nowadays still the official residence of the president of Malta.

Some of the most common plants and flowers that you can find within San Anton Gardens include Roses, Bougainvillea, Norfolk, and Araucarias. The garden is also home to trees from other countries, some of which are hundreds of years old.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens (Il-Barrakka ta’ fuq in Maltese) is a garden situated in Valletta. The size of this garden is quite small compared to other public gardens; however, it offers one of the most breath-taking views available in Malta, that of the Grand Harbour.

People visiting the garden however can also marvel at the various flowers and trees that complement the amazing view. When in Valletta, a stop in this garden is a must, as it also provides a moment of quiet from the busy lifestyle of Malta’s capital city.

Whilst in the Upper Barrakka Gardens one can also visit the Lower Barrakka found in the same city. Coupled with the Upper Barrakka, it also offers a great view of the Grand Harbour and the breakwater.

Chinese Garden of Serenity

The Chinese Garden of Serenity is one of my personal favourites. Situated in Santa Lucija, in the south of Malta, it offers beautiful Chinese style architecture, along with many plants and flowers that do well in Malta’s climate. Some of the most popular plants in the Chinese Garden of Serenity is the Hibiscus flower and the Almond tree.

The garden also features a beautiful pond in the middle of the garden, with plenty of fish and turtles living in this environment. Over the years, China has also sent workers to Malta to improve the garden.

Chinese Garden of Serenity Malta
Chinese Garden of Serenity Malta by loveforgardens.com

Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden in Attard is part of San Anton Palace and has been providing the palace with fresh produce since the time of the Knights of Malta. Today it is a place for families and young children to relax and play.

Garden Centres in Malta

Malta has hundreds of garden centres, however below I am listing some of the bigger ones for ease of reference.

Piscopo Gardens

Piscopo gardens is one of the bigger garden centres in Malta. I have been there on many occasions, and they offer a large variety of plants, flowers, trees, pots, and other gardening tools. I recently bought a vertical garden from Piscopo, and although it was a little expensive, it will add a beautiful touch to anyone’s home. Nonetheless, there are other more cost-effective solutions available, and I find vegetable seedlings to be well priced.

Website: piscopogardens.com

Facebook: facebook.com/PiscopoGardens

Address: Triq Tony Camilleri Burmarrad, Malta

Callus Garden Centre

Callus Garden Centre is a small, yet popular plant shop in Malta. I have visited this garden centre numerous times in the south of Malta, and the staff are knowledgeable and helpful. They also have a large variety of herbs as soon as you go in, along with marvellous olive trees.

Website: callusgardencentre.com

Facebook: facebook.com/callusgardencentre

Address: Triq l-Imqabba, Siggiewi, Malta

Sherries Garden Centre

Sherries Garden Centre is a very large garden centre based in Burmarrad. I have purchased a beautiful olive tree from here, and they offer an extremely large variety of plants and flowers. Apart from that, they also have a home section, where you can find patio furniture, outdoor furniture, planters, wheelbarrows, seeds, plant pots, planters and more. I recommend a visit.

Website: sherriesestates.com

Facebook: facebook.com/sherriesestates

Address: Triq Burmarrad, San Pawl il-Baħar, Malta

Tree and Plant Nursery

There are different Tree and Plant Nurseries in Malta, but I would like to share with you the Government nursery called St Vincent de Paul Nursery. Here, the government safeguards and grows the stock of local fruit trees, which can then be sold to the public. This nursery was established to promote the sustainable use of local fruit tree varieties.

Gardening in Malta is a very common hobby, and one can also find many Facebook groups where gardening enthusiasts in Malta share their gardening knowledge and photos. Check out the following ones when you need help:

Happy gardening!

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