By Norman C. Bezona
Cooperative Extension Service University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Big Island Association of Nurserymen (and women) is having its annual plant sale April 26-27 at the Edith Kanakaka‘ole Multipurpose Stadium in Hilo. It is a great opportunity to connect with nurseries all over the island in one place. Loads of new plants and old favorites will be available, as well as experts to help you with ways to grow them.
Hawaii has a special magic. An infinite variety of colors and fragrances bless our gardens. The scent of flowers perfumes the air and sets a tropical, romantic mood, whether you live mauka or makai.
By adding more flowering plants to your area, you can combat unpleasant smells like car exhaust fumes or rubbish cans. There are many good choices for your garden. The scent of orange blossoms and, of course, grapefruit, lime, lemon, and tangerine blossoms all have delicious fragrance. Our colorful flowering trees like gold trees, shower trees, and orchid trees, for example, are beginning to make a show now.
But, there are many other, lesser known and more varied, plants that can add to our gardens. All the plants listed below have fragrant flowers. Some of them such as plumeria, night blooming jasmine, fragrant dracaena, gardenia, angel trumpet and mock orange, are equipped with fragrance so potent that it can fill every inch of garden air space and drift into the house, too. Others, like the spider lily, produce more subtle perfumes that usually won’t travel quite as far and are best appreciated at close range.
Here are some other fragrant plants to look for at the sale.
One very striking shade lover is the Brunfelsia. The shrub is a native of South America. Its scientific name is Brunfelsia calycina floribunda. It gets its common name, yesterday-today-and tomorrow, from the fact that the 2-inch tubular, flaring flowers are purple one day, violet the next, and almost white the next. The flowers form chiefly in spring, but sometimes spring through fall, or in spring and again in fall. The plant may grow as high as 10 feet in partial shade, but can be kept as low as 3 feet by pruning.
There are many kinds of jasmine as well as several other plants called by that name — including star jasmine and orange jasmine (mock orange) that are not jasmines at all. There are several true jasmines that bloom with fragrant flowers. Jasminum ilicifolium and Jasminum multifolorum are two shrubs used as foundation plantings. They may also be grown as vines and will bloom more profusely.
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a viny shrub. Tie this plant to a post, fence, or some other support and it will climb; or pinch out branch tips and it will cover the ground. The clusters of star-shaped, white flowers contrast nicely with shiny dark green leaves.
Mock orange (Murraya paniculata) or orange jasmine is a member of the citrus family and is an attractive evergreen shrub or small tree with glossy green pinnately-compound leaves. The white, very fragrant flowers are produced at intervals throughout the year, followed by clusters of red ovoid fruit. It is a vigorous grower and may be used as a small tree, an informal high hedge or screen, or may be trimmed to a formal shape.
Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) produces flowers with a powerful scent. A single plant per garden should be plenty. These evergreen shrubs grow 6 to 8 feet tall or more and bloom off and on throughout the year.
The ever-popular plumeria should be found in most gardens, but a close relative is rare. It is known as Tabernaemontana or cinnamon gardenia and was originally introduced by Paul Weissich in 1960 from Africa. Flowers are produced all during the year and have a cinnamon fragrance. The odor is delicate, but one or two flowers perfume the whole garden. Close relatives are Ervatamia (Crepe Jasmine) Cerbera, Stemmadenia and Oleander.
Look for flowering trees like the Tabebuias. Different species come in many forms and colors from pink to purple and yellow. My favorites are the Gold Tree from Central America and the Mexican Gold Tree. There are many species of Bauhinia available. The most popular is the Hong Kong Orchid Tree. Of course the Royal Poinciana is well known with its orange-to-red flowers, but a few nurseries are beginning to carry the yellow form which is extremely rare.
When shopping, don’t forget all the fantastic foliage plants like Heliconias, Philodendrons, palms and bamboos. There will be new tropical rhododendrons, daylilies, carnivorous plants and cacti at the show as well.
Look for these and more at the BIAN Plant sale.
This information is supplied by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. For further information, contact the office near you.