Collage of native plants and program participants

Native Plants in Public Places

Jody Smith, Education Specialist
O‘ahu, Hawai'i and Maui

Professional landscape architects command considerable power and impact significant acreages via their design decisions for large scale commercial, government and subdivision projects. Landscape contractors make the day-to-day installation and maintenance decisions which make or break the success of native tree plantings. Nurserymen ultimately provide the variety and quality of native plant materials for these projects and impact the direction of the entire industry. It is imperative to keep these three groups well-informed about the appropriate use of native trees and plants. A series of workshops for the landscape industry about using native trees and plants were held for these three target groups.

The project was jointly sponsored by CTAHR, the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii (LICH) and Dennis Kim of Native Plant Source. Additional grant funding was received from the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Project Need: A major educational event that targeted the landscape industry regarding the use of native Hawaiian trees and plants for landscaping was held in 1992. A decade later, many advances have been made in this field. Landscape architects have become more sophisticated in their design with natives. A greater number of native trees and plants are commercially available. Progress has been made in the arena of native plant propagation. It was timely to provide this updated information to landscape architects, landscaping contractors and nurseries via the workshop format. Professional workshops effectively disseminate technical information as well as provide valuable networking opportunities for this target audience.

Project Objective: To update landscape professionals (landscape architects, landscape contractors and nurserymen) about the trends and opportunities available using native trees and plants via three workshops on O‘ahu, Hawaii and Maui.

O‘ahu: The O‘ahu workshop was carried out on July 12, 2002, at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki. Over 100 people attended the event representing all aspects of the landscaping industry (nurseries, contractors and landscape architects) as well as various departments of federal, state and local government, including individuals from local garden clubs, conservation groups and environmental organizations. A spectacular plant display was provided by Dennis Kim and Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plant Specialists.

Hawai'i: The Hawai'i Island workshop was held on Friday, November 8th, 2002, at the Cooperative Extension Offices in the Komohana Complex in Hilo. Workshop evaluations were very positive. We had an excellent display area with book sales, and two native plant exhibits as well (by Grow Native and Kapoho Kai). Day two provided an optional tour of local native gardens in Hilo (sponsored by the CES Hilo staff). This program received excellent newspaper coverage. Over 110 people attended this program, with the majority of the representatives being from the landscaping industry, government, local garden clubs, conservation groups and environmental organizations (no landscape architects).

Maui: The Maui workshop was held on Saturday, April 5th, 2003, at Maui Community College in Kahului. Approximately 65 people attended this program (limited by room size) with the majority of the representatives being from the landscaping industry, local garden clubs, conservation groups and environmental organizations (few government representatives, no landscape architects). The local papers ran several articles in advance of the program. Ho`olawa Farms provided an eye-catching native plant display.

Community Benefits: As a result of this program, many landscapers and nursery owners have attended the programs and come away with valuable information and contacts. Hawaii Landscape magazine has run a series of announcements and articles about the use of native plants, greatly heightening awareness in the industry. In addition, local garden clubs and environmental/conservation groups have become aware of the potential for using native plants in the landscape. General public awareness has been increased in general, especially with the press coverage for each workshop.

Volunteers and Volunteer organizations: This program has enjoyed wide-spread support from grassroots volunteers from hula halau, garden clubs, nurseries, students, and local conservation groups.

In addition, we obtained financial support from Hawaiian Electric Company, The Outdoor Circle, Diamond Head Sprinkler Supply, Garden Club of Honolulu, Hawai`i Association of Nurserymen, Hawai`i Island Landscape Association, Hawai`i Landscape and Irrigation Contractors Association, Maui Association of Landscape Professionals, Native Pathfinders Institute, Nutricote, R&S Nii Nursery, RM Towill, and Scenic Hawaii. We used these funds to purchase and print conference t-shirts.



How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden: Online Handbook:

CTAHR free publications about growing ornamental plants, including several native plants:


Bornhorst, Heidi. Growing Native Hawaiian Plants; A How-to Guide for the Gardener, The Best Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 1971. (introductory guide on growing native plants)

Culliney, John L. and Koebele, Bruce P., A Native Hawaiian Garden, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 1999. (more advanced guide to native plants and their propagation)

Growing Plants for Hawaiian Lei, CTAHR University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 2002. (guidebook to growing lei plants for home or commercially, including horticultural, cultural and business information). Click here for more information.

McDonald, Marie A., and Weissich, Paul R. Na Lei Makamae: The Treasured Lei, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 2003. (Book about pre-contact leis and the native and canoe plants used in them).