Big Island Plants


Native trees from seeds are generally slow growers, not usually ready for the ground until one or two years old.  All of these trees are at or beyond that age, and ready for the ground. 


-          Plant out during periods when ground is kept moist from rain for the first few weeks or more.  

-          Do not plant out during droughts unless daily hand watering can occur.  

-          Plant at least 10 feet away from the base of large trees (like big ohiʻa). 

-          Planting near tree-ferns is perfect. 

-          For sunny dry places, use materials that will hold water longer during droughts, while also providing aeration and drainage.  

-          For shady-damp places, adding cinders into the soil will provide better aeration and drainage. 


Potting mediums used in these native plants vary.   The variance is not species specific.  Instead, it is simply due to my changing away from mineral soils like cinder and perlite, switching over to more renewable materials such as coconut fiber. None of the materials are nutrient rich on their own.   Fertilize potted plants periodically, less often when they are in the ground.


Fertilize with: organic soil amendments (manure or compost), synthetic slow-release beads 3 or 4 times per year, or by watering with water soluble all-purpose plant food 1 or 2 times per month. 


Dry-Sunny species can be planted in direct sun, but may need daily watering for several weeks.   Partial-shade or under the cover of larger plants is best.   Plants will become more sun-tolerant as they mature.


Wet-Forest species are best planted in full or partial shade, light filtered by nearby taller plants.   Be sure they stay moist for several weeks. 


Pest control:  Many things like to eat young native tree foliage.  Slugs, walking sticks, mites, leaf miners to name a few.  Damage is usually minimal, but sometimes it can be severe.   Visually inspect plant, especially the undersides of leaves and along stems, to find the cause.  If nothing, try again in an hour or more after sunset with headlamp.  Hand picking or leaf cleaning usually resolves the issue for insects and mold.  Don’t handle slugs without gloves or tools. For severe infestations once the cause is known, visit a garden shop to find the best solution.


Weeds:  Big Island Plants ® are started under cover of plastic or shade without doors.  Sometimes birds will drop weed seeds into the pots.   If something other than the tree starts growing in the container, it is most often a weed.  The most common of those you might see are: various grasses and sedges, garden cress, oxalis, poha and popolo berry starts.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, ohi‘a! 


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Volcano - Puna, Hawaii