Proper sun makes this plant shine
Description: The kulu'i pictured here is the most familiar variety. The underside, margins and veins of the leaves shimmer and shine, making silvery-golden sparkles in the sun. The more sun it receives, the shinier the plant becomes. This kulu'i's foliage is also very dense, and the plant can reach a height of 6 to 8 feet. The flowers emerge in dangling spike clusters 1 to 2 inches long that resemble teardrops.
This endemic species is found in dry forest on all the main islands, from sea level to above 2,000 feet. Not only is it an endemic species, but the genus is endemic as well, making it even more unique to Hawaii. This particular variety comes from the dry forest above Mokuleia on Oahu; it was first cultivated by well-known botanist and avid native plant enthusiast Jon Obata many years ago.
Landscape use and care: Kulu'i is easy to grow and take care of. Full sun and a good water soaking twice a week will make it look its best: compact, full and shiny. You might notice that when given too much water or not enough sun, the leaves will become larger, more green and not as shiny. This also makes the plant look more "leggy" and not as full.
The plant is naturally bushy, but pruning it will make it even more so. Kulu'i can be shaped into a nice, thick hedge.
Few pests bother this plant, but if you have a lot of ants, they could bring mealy bugs and scales. If you notice this, get rid of the ants first; if the other pests remain, you can either cut the plant back to remove them or spray pesticides -- or do both if the problem is really bad.
Cultural uses: The flower spikes and new leaves look great in head leis or flower arrangements.
Also: Many varieties of this species have been described, each with distinct characteristics, but not so different as to separate them into their own species. This plant is also available at Home Depot for less than $4, a bargain considering its beauty.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 295-7777 or e-mail Rick.firstname.lastname@example.org
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail email@example.com