In the Garden

Rick Barboza

Friday, November 12, 2004

Handle flowers of
ma‘o with care

Native Hawaiian Lei Plants for Your Landscape
Coastal Plants Volume II

This is the second of three columns about native coastal lei plants that also look great in residential landscapes. There are plenty of coastal shrubs to cover because the majority of isle flora comprises shrubs and ground covers, plants better suited than others to live in this harsh environment.

More shrubs

Ma'o (Gossypium tomentosum): Otherwise known as the Hawaiian cotton, this silvery shrub usually has three to five lobed leaves and bright yellow flowers. These flowers can be strung into leis, but great care is required when doing so because they are very soft and easily bruised. The finished leis are beautiful but last for only one day. Unlike the fragile flowers, the plant is very hardy and thrives in full sun with minimal watering. If given too much water, the leaves will lose their silvery sheen and become a darker, pale green. Give this plant at least six feet of space and watch this beauty grow. The maximum height for this bush is usually 4 to 6 feet.

Lysimachia mauritiana: This plant has no known Hawaiian name, but is a small succulent shrub about a foot tall. New leaves form out of tight, green rosettes similar to those of the silvery and more popular hinahina, and clusters of white flowers protrude from the side of a stem that towers above the rest of the plant. These durable white flower clusters and rosettes of leaves can be woven into leis. In the garden, these plants look great as accents around larger landscaping stones or as a group to fill in a bed. Full sun and minimal watering is all you need to keep this plant happy. Try not to pick all the flowers at once because after the plants flower, seeds develop and then fall to the ground, allowing new plants to sprout in a couple of weeks.

Coming up: More on shrubs

Rick Barboza co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail rickckbarboza@aol.com.

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