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plumerias on tree
Last season’s Waimānalo collection.

Nearly 90% of flowers used for lei-making are imported to Hawaiʻi, and the decreasing supply of local flowers is having a drastic impact on the lei industry statewide. To address growing concerns from lei-flower growers, makers and vendors, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (CTAHR) has launched a new plumeria collection at the Urban Garden Center.

Students from Kalani High School helped clean up the plot, amend the soil and plant the first rooted cuttings on January 6. The work day was organized through a collaboration between CTAHR and the Lei Poinaʻole Project of BEHawaii, created in response to concerns about the decreasing supply of local flowers.

group photo
CTAHR Extension Agent Alberto Ricordi at the Urban Garden Center with volunteers and high school students.

“This new collection at Urban Garden Center will be very important for the industry because the current supply cannot meet the demand, and because access to flowers and foliage to make lei is very important for the community,” said Alberto Ricordi, a CTAHR assistant extension agent.

CTAHR receives requests from plumeria growers and landscapers who are seeking new varieties and lei groups. This new collection features more than 30 varieties of flowers and foliage. The partnership is meant to help close the gap of local flowers for lei-making in the next five to six years. Collaborations like this will be key for the success of this project.

“We selected varieties considered good for lei, with traits such as long-lasting flowers, thick petals suitable for handling, and attractive scent and color,” said Ricordi.

More community work days and workshops will be offered in the future. Sign up for the . For questions, contact albertoh@hawaii.edu.

plumerias on tree
Last season’s Waimānalo collection.
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