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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 14, 2004

Kaua'i native plants program needs help

By Heidi Bornhorst

Q. How do I get involved with native plants on Kaua'i? We just moved here and want to help grow Hawaiian plants and meet people and plant scientists who know about the native flora and fauna.

— New to Kaua'i

Join the Kaua'i native plant society and help with a project at Lawai Kai on the south side.

Fertilize gardenia bushes and keep them clean of bugs by picking every bud and flower.

Advertiser library photo

The National Tropical Botanical Garden is weeding the area of alien plants and restoring it with native Hawaiian costal plants. This will benefit the honu, our native and endangered green sea turtle.

The Lawai Kai beach restoration is really progressing, but they still need many hands working on the zoysia grass, removal and planting of natives.

They really need to speed the work along to get the beach area ready for the honu nesting season. The goal is to have the entire beach replanted with native plants for their arrival.

The workdays start at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays at Lawai Kai. Many people choose to finish at noon, but you can work as long as you want. The work continues throughout May.

Contact David Bender, the Restoration Ecologist for the National Tropical Botanical Garden and Limahuli Garden and Preserve. You can also contact him at dbender@ntbg.org or 742-1011, ext. 113.

In bloom

Gardenias are going gangbusters right now. They will benefit from fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro and Miracid. Some people with ever-blooming gardenias fertilize with half-strength Miracle-Gro every time they water.

Thrips, those thin black insects, sometimes bother gardenias and get in the flowers.

One way to curtail this is to pick every bud and flower. If you miss a few, go back and pick out all the dead flowers. By keeping your plants clean, using the flowers and giving them away (what an old-fashioned joy) you provide less opportunity for thrip invasions.

I also learned from my great gardening Wahiawa pals the Kagehiros that cutting a bit of leafy stem (two or three nodes), along with the gardenia bud, makes for nicer flower arrangements and presentation; it also is good to shape tall and robust growing gardenia bushes.

Submit questions at islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com or Island Life, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Letters may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms. Heidi Bornhorst is a sustainable landscape consultant.