Ground-trailing ‘ihi has flowers that stand out
Description: Prostrate herbs with thick stems and tightly arranged, alternating leaves that are round and very succulent (similar in appearance to the dwarf jade plant, only this plant trails along the ground). On the top of the stems, a small cup of leaves holds a cluster of yellow flowers, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. This plant closely resembles an introduced portulaca, often referred to as pigweed, but that plant has small yellow flowers about a quarter-inch in diameter and often has softer stems that are red toward the base. The native plant has a light tan base that is almost woody in appearance.
HUI KU MAOLI OLA
'Ihi sells for about $4 at Home Depot or from Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Hawaiian Plant Nursery.
This type of 'ihi is an indigenous plant that exists on coastal and strand habitats, such as lava, raised coral reef, sand and soil. It is found on the majority of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as well as Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Hawaii.
Landscape use and care: This species of 'ihi, like most others, prefers full sun with only occasional watering. Soak the ground every two to three days, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Sandy soil is also preferred for good drainage. If given daily watering, the plant will grow large and healthy-looking, but that is not a positive thing. The plant is actually becoming "soft" and appetizing to pests. When in its natural state, few pests bother it, although mealybugs are sometimes noticed at the leaf axis. These can be removed by hand or sprayed with pesticide. If the situation looks out of control, simply cut off infected areas and allow the plant to grow back, keeping an eye on it to prevent future infestations.
Plant 'ihi as a bedding plant or at the base of larger landscape stones.
It also looks great in soil pockets between rock clusters. When in bloom, the yellow flowers really stand out against darker rocks, and, if you're lucky, after they bloom they'll drop seeds, creating a future stock of 'ihi for your garden.
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