In the Garden
Rick Barboza

Landscaping the yard
with lei plants

This series has shown that growing your own lei plants can help you create an attractive-looking yard while avoiding long hikes to gather materials and depleting wild sources.

Na'u has the scent of a typical gardenia with a hint of coconut oil.

In this volume we will be going over a few more dry forest lei shrubs:

Na'u (Gardenia brighamii): Is a rare gardenia. Less than 20 individuals remain in the wild, however, it is available at retail and wholesale nurseries. This is a must-have for any lei maker. Its flowers have five to seven petals, are about 2 inches across, and smell like the big, bushy flowered gardenia with a hint of coconut oil.

These flowers can be strung into strand-type lei or woven into more ornate styles. In the garden, the na'u does best in full to lightly filtered sun, with well-drained soil. Give it a good soaking but allow the water to completely evaporate between watering. This is a slow-growing plant so be patient. Eventually, it may reach heights of 15 feet or more.

Kulu'i (Nototrichium sandwicense): A gorgeous shrub with exceptionally pubescent leaves giving the foliage a silvery-golden tinge. The pubescence is so fine that the leaves often gleam in the sunlight.

The flowers are grouped on soft, compact inchlong spikelets that droop from slender stems that emerge from the leaf axis. Both the young leaf shoots and these flower spikes are highly prized for leimaking.

Plant this shrub in as much sunlight as possible, and water only when needed. Too little sunlight or too much water will cause the plant to lose its sheen and become greener; it also will not produce as much flowering spikes.

In the right conditions, this plant can grow up to 8 feet tall and be silvery and full, which makes it ideal for hedges.

Rick Barboza co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery. Contact him at 259-6580 or e-mail rickckbarboza@aol.com

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