Creating a luscious garden for your Maui home will provide a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy. From vibrantly colored flowers to hearty shrubs, ferns and grasses, Hawaiian plants have captivated humans for millennia and continue to do so today.
Aside from their enchanting beauty and fascinating cultural significance, gardening with native Hawaiian plants can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Plants native to an environment use less water, stimulate new growth, and provide local birds and bees with healthy habitats. They also save you time and money on care and upkeep, as they are hard-wired to survive in the very habitat you have planted them in! All in all, your Maui garden’s ecosystem will only benefit from incorporating native plants.
Here are a few examples of popular native Hawaiian plants to get your garden started:
Ilima can be either a shrub or ground cover, depending on the mother plant. This allows you to enjoy these beautiful yellow flowers in two ways, depending on your landscaping needs. Tolerant of both heat and coastal weather, ‘Ilima also has low water requirements.
The little yellow flowers are enticing to Honeybees while at the same time acting as a natural deterrent to deer. While it will take patience due to their small size, the flowers can be used for Leis if desired; a perfect way to get the most out of their short lifespan, as they only last for about one day.
‘A’a li’i is a hearty, robust shrub found in various habitats from sea level to higher altitudes. Thriving in environments from mesic to dry, its low water requirements are one of the many reasons for its popularity in challenging landscapes. Tolerant of both wind and salty air, this is a very resilient plant that can handle pretty much anything.
The ‘A’a li’i’s beautiful, brightly colored flowers are popular choices for Lei makers, as are the seed pods that can be found in light green, light pink, and dark red colors. Its rapid growth speed and abundant leaf litter make it a favorite among native plant gardeners all over the Hawaiian Islands!
Known for its gorgeously vibrant purple flowers, ‘Awikiwiki hails from the dry forests of Maui, Big Island, and Lanai. Typically found at elevations from 150 feet up to 4,000 feet, this vine will be happiest in dry to very dry conditions. ‘Awikiwiki will provide nutrients to share with the plants surrounding it, thanks to its ability to fix nitrogen within the soil.
Able to spread along the ground or climb its surroundings, ‘Awikiwiki makes a beautiful addition to your fences and trellises. It’s also surprisingly kind to its neighboring plants, as it won’t damage or constrict them as many other vines do.
A hardy fern native to Hawaii and a sacred plant to Laka, Goddess of Hula, the Palapalai is an excellent addition to your Maui home garden. Commonly used for Leis, Hula alters, and to adorn Hula dancers, there are many chants and songs that tout the cultural importance of this light green fern.
Found at elevations from sea level up to 5,000 feet, the Palapalai does best in moist, mesic climates but can be tolerant of dryer places as well. Its beautiful light green fronds are soft to the touch and fair best in protected areas due to wind vulnerability.
Known for its large, vibrant red flowers, Koki’o is a tree that hails from the dryland forest. The only species of Hibiscus on the planet known to possess an enchanting fragrance, this tree will likely grow to about 15 feet and prefers to be planted in a location where it will get full sun exposure.
Honeybees and native birds alike love to spend time among the Koki’o’s welcoming flowers, which will bloom for you year-round. Low water requirements make this tree easy to care for, needing water only about once a month or so once the roots have been properly established.