Montane ecosystems are more prone to invasions by exotic plant species than previously thought. Besides abiotic factors, such as climate and soil properties, plant-plant interactions within communities are likely to affect the performance of potential invaders in their exotic range. The biotic resistance hypothesis predicts that high indigenous species richness hampers plant invasions. The biotic acceptance hypothesis, on the other hand, predicts a positive relationship between indigenous and exotic species richness. We tested these two hypotheses using observational data along an elevational gradient in a southern African biodiversity hotspot. Species composition data of indigenous and exotic plants were recorded in 20 road verge plots along a gradient of 1775–2775 m a.s.l. in the Drakensberg, South Africa. Plots were 2 × 50 m in size and positioned at 50 m elevational intervals. We found a negative correlation between indigenous and exotic richness for locations with poorly developed mineral soils, suggesting biotic resistance through competitive interactions. A strong positive correlation for plots with very shallow soils at high elevations indicated a lack of biotic resistance and the possibility of facilitating interactions in harsher environments. ... mehrThese results suggest that biotic resistance is restricted to the lower and mid elevations while biotic acceptance prevails in presence of severe abiotic stress, potentially increasing the risk of plant invasions into montane biodiversity hotspots.