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The Best Hawaiian Indoor Plants

orchidee image by Heiner Witthake from

Hawaii’s lush greenery and floral fireworks can also be coaxed indoors to add a touch of tropical paradise to homes and offices. Since dependably warm temperatures, gentle breezes and constant mild humidity characterize much of the state’s climate, the biggest variable in indoor plant culture in Hawaii is the amount of available light. By evaluating how much light is available, you can match plants’ light needs with their environment and enjoy success with indoor plants.

Plants for Low Light

Low light means an environment with only artificial light, such as an office with florescent lights and no windows. Natives of exotic, dim jungle floors–like the heart leaf philodendron–do particularly well with this kind of light. These large vines can be trained on a thin slab of wood set into a sturdy pot, or pruned to keep them compact. Certain bromeliads, such as vriesias, thrive in low-light levels in Hawaii, because the humidity is generally sufficient to keep them happy indoors. These large, colorful epiphytes are hardy indoors. Impatiens, which seem to thrive on neglect many places in Hawaii, are a great low-light choice for color. Many flower colors are available.

Plants for Medium Light

Medium light refers to indirect sunlight from a window, with or without supplemental artificial lighting. In Hawaii, the ubiquitous areca palm is a good candidate for indoor culture. When planted in pots, this bushy, golden-green palm will grow up to 6 feet high–and it adapts well to medium light. Anthuriums do very well indoors with medium indirect light–especially in humid parts of the state, or in rooms which are not air conditioned. Several beautiful cultivars, known as ‘Obake’ anthuriums, have been hybridized on Hawaii Island. Dracaenas make great-looking indoor plants for medium light levels and are widely available. These hardy plants typically grow up to 8 feet in pots and can be found with solid or variegated leaves in many colors.

Plants for High Light

High lighting is defined as at least some daily direct sunlight on the plant. Good plants for high light levels include dendrobium, epidendrum and vanda orchids. These orchids are easy to find in the islands because they are commonly grown for lei flowers and export. While they appreciate high light, these orchids can be easily burned if suddenly moved from low light to direct sun. If you are unsure whether new orchids were grown in shade, move them gradually into higher light. Graceful lady palms do well indoors in high light and can reach up to 10 feet high in pots. Their clumping stalks and dense, fan-shaped foliage make them a good choice for screening objectionable views.

Both green and red ti plants look great in indoor pots, where they can get at least some direst sun. Many varieties are available in Hawaii, including some very attractive dwarf cultivars.

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