Common Hawaiian Plants

Hawaii's tropical climate makes it a good spot for growing, and lush landscapes are a signature of the islands. Many tropical fruits and vibrant flowers grow well in Hawaii's climate, which is defined as zones 10 and 11 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Temperatures in these zones rarely reach freezing.


Among the most common fruit trees in Hawaii, guava (Psidium) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that produces green or nearly black fruit that has flesh resembling Asian pears, though not as juicy, with seeds in the middle. Guavas are used throughout Hawaii in jellies, juices and smoothies. The strawberry guava (P. cattleianum) can grow to 15 feet and has glossy green leaves that may reach 3 inches. The dark-colored fruit has a sweet-tart flavor. The P. guajava variety can grow to 25 feet, and leaves are up to 6 inches long. Young foliage is deep red, aging to green. The light-green fruit is slightly acidic and firm. Guava should be planted in full sun or high shade and require moderate water. These tropical trees are hardy to zone 9.


The yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is Hawaii's state flower and is native to the islands. Because it was not officially named the state flower until 1988, many also associate the red hibiscus with Hawaii, and the red version is used as part of the logo for Hawaiian Airlines. Yellow hibiscus, which is endangered in Hawaii, produces a yellow, saucer-shaped bloom with a spot of maroon at the center and can reach 6 inches. It may grow as tall as 30 feet, but it is more often found as a shrub and is native in dry forests. Hibiscus of all kinds are prevalent throughout Hawaii. The Chinese hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) is the most common and is hardy to 30 degrees F. This variety is available in a range of colors from yellow to red to pink. It requires full sun and regular water.


Mango (Mangifera indica) is an evergreen tree that is planted in Hawaiian home landscapes and is grown commercially in some parts of the state. Mango trees are tropical and cannot withstand any frost; they are hardy in zones 10 and 11 only. Mangoes have large leaves that can reach 12 inches long and are red or purple when new before aging to green. The fruit is oval and about 6 inches long, with skin that may be green, yellow or red. The flesh is juicy and yellow. Mango trees thrive in full sun but require steady, moist soil.

Keywords: zone 10 plants, zone 11 plants, tropical plants, Hawaiian plants, warm-weather plants

About this Author

J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.