The Best Things to Plant in Hawaii

Hawaii is filled with lush landscapes due to its warm, wet climate. Designated as zones 10-11 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, temperatures rarely get to or below freezing the low-lying areas and, in many areas, are between 70-80 degrees all year. Tropicals thrive in this area, which is rich with ferns, palms, pineapples and myriad other plants.

Elephant Ears

The roots of this perennial are taro, a key food source in Hawaii and other Pacific islands. Elephant ears (Clocasia esculenta) have tuberous roots and are native to Asia and Polynesia. These plants can grow to 6 feet and have giant, heart-shaped leaves that may be as long as 2 feet. Elephant ears may stay in the ground and will produce new leaves year round in Hawaii.


Hibiscus (Hibiscus) thrives in Hawaii's warm, wet climate, where some varieties, including the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), may grow to 30 feet in this tropical climate. Hibiscus, which produce showy flowers in a rainbow of colors, bloom year round in Hawaii. Plants are available in dwarf varieties for smaller areas. Hibiscus require full sun and regular watering.


A popular fragrance in the tropics, plumeria (Plumeria) can grow to 18 feet tall, has long, leathery leaves and produces fragrant clusters of showy, waxy flowers that may be up to 2-1/2 inches wide. Blooms are available in white with a yellow center, red, pink or yellow. The leaves on this small tree cluster at the tip of the branches. Plumeria is easy to grow from cuttings and is sold at gift shops throughout Hawaii. Plumeria thrives in full sun with moderate water.

Keywords: tropical plants, taro, elephant ears, hibiscus, plumeria, Hawaii landscape

About this Author

J.D.Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the U.S. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as writing about travel, health and other issues. Chi received her bachelor's degree in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward her master's in journalism.