Tropical Gardening: Nurserymen association plant show and sale set for Labor Day Weekend

  • Photo courtesy of Quindembo Bamboo Nursery

    This rare Chusquea leibmanii bamboo from tropical America will be one of many available at the Big Island Association of Nurserymen Plant Show and Sale in Hilo.

Get cozy with plant lovers and growers from around our island during the Big Island Association of Nurserymen Plant Show and Sale to learn how to accentuate your garden paradise.

Hawaiian landscapes are unique.


They bring together rare, bold and colorful plants from around the world and combine them with our own native plant materials. Palms, bamboos and ferns combine to give a lush tropical effect where rainfall and irrigation are abundant. In drier areas, many species are combined with plants such as plumeria, croton, stephanotis and bougainvillea for iridescent color and fragrance.

To learn more about how to bring this fantastic variety of plants together in harmony, the BIAN invites folks to its annual horticultural show and sale at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium in Hilo. The event is slated for 5-9 p.m. Friday (Aug. 31) and starts at 9 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 1).

There will be rare bamboos such as Chusquea leibmanii, and will include rare palms, flowering shrubs and trees as well.

These tongue twisting palms are just a few of the amazing plants now found in Hawaii thanks to the efforts of the International Palm Society, local nurseries and growers of the Big Island.

Twenty nurseries will be participating in the plant show and sale, so you can stop and shop at one spot. There will be orchids, bromeliads, fruit trees, cacti, flowering shrubs and trees, just to mention a few for sale.

This also is an opportunity to rub elbows with the experts and get your gardening questions answered.

For more information, contact Sean at Royal Palm Enterprises by calling 966-7169 or emailing info@hawaiiplants.org.

When landscaping with native and exotic plants, remember that many natives are rare and protected by law. An example of this is that for many years, it has been common practice to go to the forests of our island and cut down hapuu for instant landscaping. Today, these beautiful ferns are threatened because they are very slow growing.

When cut from the forest, weeds often take over the area exposed. An example is in Kaloko Mauka, Kona, where 40 years ago tree ferns covered most of the roadsides from the belt highway to the top of Kaloko Drive. Today, invading weeds are encroaching where people illegally cut down the hapuu or allowed grazing animals access to the hapuu stands.

Our tree ferns are just a few of more than 800 species of tree ferns found worldwide. These descendants of an ancient type of vegetation are found in semi-wet to wet forests from sea level to 5,000 feet elevation.

Hapuu was very common in the wetter areas of all the major islands, but overexploitation reduced the stands drastically.

Pulu was used in ancient times for dressing wounds and embalming. Pulu has been used for stuffing pillows and mattresses. Until recently, large numbers were cut for orchid media and landscape use. Trunks cut and planted in less-than-ideal locations live for a while then gradually decline and die, thus requiring frequent replacement.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where native plants such as tree ferns are growing, get to know them and protect them. Presently, all tree ferns are considered threatened since so many species are found in the rapidly diminishing rain forests of the world.

It is illegal to ship tree ferns or tree fern products internationally. This does not, however, protect tree ferns within a country from destruction.

The last remaining large stands of hapuu are found primarily on the Big Island; however, these are being rapidly reduced by clearing and development except in protected areas such as the national park. Sale or purchase of Hawaiian tree ferns has been discouraged in the landscape industry since the plants seldom do well when removed from their natural environment.

Unfortunately, the Hawaiian tree fern is becoming scarce, so should only be planted where garden conditions are ideal. Some nurseries have tree ferns available. Do not remove hapuu from the forest without proper authority. Where possible, use other plant species such as palms to give that lush tropical effect.


Master Gardener Gary Kastle also reminds us that we can get our gardening questions answered by calling the Master Gardener helpline at 322-4893 or emailing konamg@ctahr.hawaii.edu.

Master Gardeners also will be at the BIAN plant show and sale with information about how to become a member of their team.