Nursery Visit Hawai'ian Style

Freshly back from the Big Island, I am still floating on turquoise waters with images of agaves in my daydreams. If we lived there: Oh, the garden we would have!

Although nursery visiting was not high on my husband's list, I squeezed in a quick visit to a Hilo garden store that to my delight featured a small nursery. My "I'll be back in 5 minutes!" was realistically a quick half-hour. Here's a quicker tour:

Right up front a table of succulents caught my attention.

But before we enter, let me show you the entrance. Garden Exchange in Hilo has all things for the garden: fertilizers, garden tools, seeds, garden art, soil amendments and plants. Sadly, like so many nurseries, they carry vast quantities of pesticides and herbicides. Hawai'i seems so fragile. Why would you want that junk? But I digress. Let's talk plants.

Many of the plants I saw are considered house plants in my zone 8 garden. Not so in Hawai'i. And there were other surprises. First of all, I thought the prices were excellent, and I also saw many plants common to nurseries in Oregon. I wonder how they do in Hawai'i?

A few choice plants had these great descriptions, most did not but that's okay in this information age as it's so easy to research. This particular plant does not seem common to Hawai'i, rather it came from the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Nice.

Here is the bloom on the Medinilla alata.

Here's an example of one that I  might see in Oregon, and with a great price.
No other information other than the tag.

That juicy color is fab.

Here's another detailed description; this one for a Dracaena draco or dragon tree.

For a one gallon pot, I like that price!

I include the ubiquitous Ophiopogon japonica here for the price. I have not seen it under $8 in Oregon, anywhere. I have to start coming to Hawai'i to shop plants? Not such a bad idea! 

Warszewiczia coccinea, dwarf wild poinsettia.

Here's a quite impressive bloom. Also called Macaw's tail for good reason.

Of course, there are many macadamia orchards on the Big Island. Hmmm...that might be a new calling for us: macadamia farmers. What do you think?

Macadamia leaves. I had no idea they looked like this.

Or maybe we could grow cacao....

An orchard of cacao trees?
Chocolate-loving husband says Yes!

I finally found my lucky lizard. No idea what he is but he was quite friendly, actually.

Here's some Thunbergia -

It was bluer in person.

Mona Lavender?

This one was new to me. 

Taro is one of those crops that the Polynesians brought with them to Hawai'i. It is what poi is made from (I had taro chips which were quite tasty). Here's an ornamental version:

Ornamental taro.

Again, the prices! I see though that most of the pots are recycled and have a lot of wear and tear. I don't mind, in fact I like the idea of reusing. Plus, if it saves a few $$...maybe we can petition our local nurseries?  

How about that silver sheen? This was the loveliest bromelaid I saw (there were many). I did not see a tag for this but I think it must be Alcantarea 'Silver Plum'. Anyone know?

Ginger...I belive some varieties are invasive to Hawai'i. 

I don't believe this is one of them. Nice orange, though!

This one takes the prize for my favorite. Wow, just look at these leaves! 

Velvety goodness. I **really** like this one.

And this one, too.

And here's another to adore.

What patterning! Love this.

Here's a fun one.

Lemon Lime indeed, how bright and cheerful!

Again. $3?? ...... I'll take five.

Of course, there were resident birds, chattering away and being friendly.

Agave attenuata, maybe? They were everywhere in landscapes, big and beautiful and healthy.

For $8, I'll take a couple of these, and in terra-cotta pots, too! 

See what I mean about recycled pots? Again, I think it's a great idea. Some of our nurseries already do reuse. Xera Plants for one happily takes pots back (from their own stock).

I believe these were in the $3 range. Sweet.

This was by far the most expensive plant I saw, and a lovely one, too. Variegated fishtail palm. 

Nice coloration. There were so many palm varieties in landscapes everywhere, it was a treat to see them. I did not see this one that I can recall. 

And while in Hilo, why not stop at the farmer's market? Look below at what we found, besides strange Spam products, tropical fruits and really wonderful hand-made items:

And, of course, one came home with us. For $5 a bucket! Come on! I'll take them all!

Here it is in our condo overlooking the sea at sunset. Mahalo, Garden Exchange and Hilo for a great day out. 

Thank you for reading and until next week, happy gardening! Aloha!


  1. I lived on the big island from 1970 to 1974. I remember well the flora. In fact I can say unequivocally that the flora was the best part of being there. We had an Agave attenuata in our front yard as well as fruiting pineapples and papayas and the plumeria flowers were heavenly. The prices on those plants are really good. Were you able to bring anything home? I know there are strict agricultural transmission laws that might have made it a hassle. I love that $5 bouquet wrapped in tea leaves. So pretty. I hope you had a great trip.

    1. Really?? How cool, Grace! Oh, those Agave attenuatas. I kept wanting David to slow the car down so I could drool, but if he did that with every one we saw we would still be there crawling along at .2 mph. Not able to bring anything back, a big hassle....but fun to look while there!

  2. Wow! Such great prices. I guess they didn't get the memo that the rest of the nurseries got about keeping the price of black mondo grass artificially inflated.

    1. I KNOW, Alison - so good! I didn't want to mention to that nursery about the mondo grass - I thought at least one place in the universe should have a "normal" price for that. Funny....!

  3. Aw, c' know you would miss the Pacific Northwest. And farming is really hard work.

    1. Ok, you are right :) I would. We are so lucky here to be able to grow *most* things. I do love it.

  4. Thanks for sharing wonderful information, it is really nice information.

    1. Hi Cubic Zirconia Green, thanks for the comment and for reading! Cheers!


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