Next Sunday 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 brains for just the right last minute gift can be frustrating. Don’t panic. Relax and be creative at the same time. This year may be particularly limited as far as shopping goes due to the Covid 19 lockdown, but it can certainly give folks time for thought.
With Earth Day the week before and observing that Earth lockdown has rapidly reduced pollution emissions worldwide, maybe we can think about celebrating Mother’s Day with a focus on Big Mamma Mother Earth by planting some trees.
This is a great time to visit garden shops and nurseries to take care of those last minute gifts. Along with buying Mom a big box of chocolates, consider planting a cacao tree as well. Whether in a large pot on the lanai or in the garden, cacao plants are an interesting subject of conversation. According to Eli Isele, UHCTAHR extension agent working with Cacao farmers, Hawaiian chocolate is a rapidly growing new crop for Hawaii. In 2019, more than 80 acres were harvested with a yield of almost 45,000 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 may contact Eli at 969-8209 for information. Hawaiian chocolates 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 may 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, home made cookies and other delectable edibles. By giving living plants you give Mom an opportunity to pay it forward to Mother Earth when she finds a place in the garden for its permanent site. Remember, plants big or small are taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and supplying oxygen.
Here are some other gifts to consider. 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 may 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 native and introduced 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 Hawaiian 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 may 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. But, as these containers are usually small, pay careful attention to supplies of water and fertilizer.
If you have 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 a minimum of 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.