Tropical Gardening: Orchids and Hawaii chocolate perfect for Mother’s Day

  • Photo courtesy of VOLTAIRE MOISE Orchids make classy gifts for Mother’s Day. Check out the Kona orchid show and sale May 10-11 at the Old Kona Airport Park Pavilion in Kailua-Kona.

Today is Cinco De Mayo and Boys Day, but don’t let that distract you from the really big day next Sunday.

It is Mother’s Day, and if you forget any of those favorite women in your life you are in real trouble!


Trying to wrack your brain for just the right last-minute gift can be frustrating.

But don’t panic. Relax and be creative at the same time.

This is a great time to visit garden shops and nurseries to take care of those last-minute gifts.

Orchid plants make the perfect gifts for those special friends and relatives. Luckily, you will have the opportunity to pick up some rare orchid gifts at the Kona orchid show from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, May 10, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the main pavilion at Old Kona Airport Park in Kailua-Kona.

Educational classes by expert growers will also be available to get answers to all your gardening and plant questions.

Orchids make a classy gift, especially in combination with quality Hawaii chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, last week the chocolate festival was a great education for Hawaii participants.

According to Eli Isele, UHCTAHR Extension Agent working with cacao farmers, Hawaii chocolate is a rapidly growing new crop for Hawaii.

In 2018, more than 81 acres were harvested with a yield of almost 44,000 pounds. In the next few years the acreage is expected to more than double.

If you are interested in cacao farming, processing and the market, you can contact Eli at 969-8209 for information.

Hawaii chocolates and orchids are a good start on your Mother’s Day gift quest, but there are many other options as well.

To avoid the headaches, enjoy your shopping by being different. You would be surprised at how many different plants make great gifts.

With a little love and care, you can give a gift that really has some meaning.

All the foliage plants can be spruced up with bright ribbons and clever cards, but some plants are more in keeping with the special occasion than others. In giving living plants, use your imagination with the containers, decorations and wrapping. You can put more love in this type of gift than most other types unless you consider hand-made bedspreads, homemade cookies and other delectable edibles.

First and foremost, flowers are a natural.

Hydrangeas are traditional for mom. Most folks think of hydrangeas as a cool climate shrub that does best in Volcano, Kaloko Mauka and Waimea, but they can be grown almost anywhere in Hawaii given enough water and some shade in warmer lowland areas.

Orchids, bromeliads and anthurium varieties are appropriate as well. Then there are hibiscus varieties with flowers from white to red and yellow, with every color in between. The many gardenia varieties with white flowers and green leaves on pendulous branches makes a fragrant gift.

The cinnamon, tiare and endemic Hawaii gardenias are favorites. Some azaleas and several new tropical rhododendrons are even on the market.

Potted blooming orchid plants and bromeliads are just a few plants you might consider to use in the home, and when their color wanes place them in your tropical garden.

The fun of giving plants to mom, sister, daughter and wife is that you can then plan together on how to best present them in the home or garden. It is a bonding experience for those who prepare and give the gift, as well as the special lady who receives it.

In getting your gifts ready, start with the right container. Wooden tubs are excellent since wood prevents rapid drying out of the soil.

Jardinieres usually lack drainage holes, which might cause a watering problem. Clay pots are fine and can be painted to blend with the colors in the home. Brass and copper are ideal for table and mantle arrangements. As these containers are usually small, pay careful attention to supplies of water and fertilizer.

If you run out of time, as a last resort you might consider a gift certificate from a local nursery for flowers or plants.


To be satisfactory, plants must do more than merely survive. They must maintain an attractive appearance with minimum care. For problem interiors, check with your local garden center or nursery to help you make the right choice.

This information is supplied by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. For more information, contact the UHCTAHR Master Gardener Helpline at 322-4893 in Kona or 981-5199 in Hilo.

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