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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 3, 2002

Multi-hued hibiscus can be old-fashioned or up to date

By Heidi Bornhorst

Dear Heidi: Why don't we see much hibiscus in Hawai'i gardens anymore? I used to love seeing all those big, bright, colorful flowers in gardens all around the Islands — so cheerful, so Hawaiian, and bright! Where can we buy hibiscus — the old-fashioned, awe-inspiring kind, for our new home and garden?

— Dale Morisato, Kapolei

The Kaua'i white hibiscus is parent to many hybrids. Blooms last up to two days, depending on whether you leave it on the bush.

Advertiser library photo • April 10, 1997

Dear Dale: Plants go in waves of fashion, like fads, just like a lot of other things. Often old-fashioned is best, but people have ripped out their old hibiscus to do something trendier in the garden. Later they regret it as the hibiscus were so durable and attractive.

Happily, there is an event coming up on Saturday where you can buy some choice hibiscus and

other wonderful plants, visit an inspiring and educational garden and meet fellow garden-minded people as well as the growers themselves.

The large, bright, old-fashioned hibiscus you refer to are sometimes called dinner plate hybrids. Also being offered Saturday: tropicals, cactus, succulents, native plants and lots of 'ono produce.

I spoke with grower Glenn Nii of C. Nii Nursery in the back of Hawai'i Kai. They grow old-fashioned hibiscus, hybridize new varieties and still use grafting as a propagation technique.

Pearl City Urban Garden Center sale
Plants and produce on sale
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
962 2nd St, Pearl City
 •  Information: 453-6050
Glenn will be offering all kinds of hibiscus: old-fashioned and new cultivars, and natives such as the Kaua'i white

Varieties and species he has are:

• Duke Kahanamoku, which has yellow petals with a red-brown center. It is a fairly large flower,

6-8 inches across, and it is a two- to three-day flower, depending on whether you leave it on the bush or not. It has firm, heavy-textured flowers and thus good keeping qualities.

• The Nadine Kahanamoku variety is lavender with a pink edge, and Nii describes it as "a solid eight inches" across.

• Hibiscus waimeae, Koki'o ke'o ke'o, the fragrant white, native hibiscus of Koke'e and the mountains of Kaua'i. It is a two-day flower and is the parent and grandparent of many of our choice hybrids.

Heidi Bornhorst is director of Honolulu's botanical gardens. She can be e-mailed at islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: The telephone number for the Pearl City Urban Garden Center is 453-6050. It was listed incorrectly in a previous version of this column.