Hawaiian flowers and all tropical plants in general have been popular since the days of their initial discovery. Usually vastly different from traditional old-world varieties, they lent an exotic flair to any garden, bouquet or presentation.
You might be wondering which varieties to plant to reproduce an authentic garden of Hawaiian flowers, or perhaps which would be more suitable for a floral order. The following list outlines several of the most common varieties and provides a brief history and some interesting facts.
· Anthuriums – Anthuriums were first introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s. Their name is Greek for “tail flower,” which is derived from the tail-like pollen spore that protrudes from the center of the flower. These Hawaiian flowers thrive in warm and humid climates, so make sure you don’t plant them unless you can expect constant temperatures at or around 65-85F.
· Carnations – Carnations are one of the most popular of the Hawaiian flowers, and have long been valued for wedding ceremonies. They come in many colors, but some of the most valued include the red, white and pink varieties.
· Bird of Paradise – Perhaps the most exotic of all Hawaiian flowers, the bird of paradise with its majestic appearance lends regality and splendor to any garden or floral arrangement.
· Orchids – Orchids are globally treasured and tend to be popular amongst all cultures in all locations. In fact, quite a few nations claim a variety of the orchid as their national flower. A striking feature about these tropical Hawaiian flowers is the fact that, throughout the world, between 200,000 and 300,000 naturally occurring varieties can be found.
Six varieties of orchids are grown commercially in Hawaii: dendrobiums, cattleyas, vandas, cymbidiums, oncidiums and phalaenopsis, with the white dendrobiums being the dominant variety in the market.
Orchids symbolize love, friendship and peace – appropriate for the friendly and peace-loving island state. So important a role do they play in Hawaiian tradition that it’s nearly impossible to find a bouquet or lei (the traditional welcoming wreath) that doesn’t include at least one orchid.
Orchids are able to thrive in interior household environments, which makes them one of the best Hawaiian flowers to consider for recreational cultivation. Just make sure you place them in a windowed room that gets a lot of midday sun.
· Heliconias – The heliconia, named in honor of Mt. Heliconia, the ancient home of the Greek gods, are a widely-popular addition to any display of Hawaiian flowers. Their vibrant colors, impressive appearance and long life makes them highly sought-after. Some varieties of heliconia that you may have heard of include the false bird of paradise and the parrot’s beak, although there are quite a number more.
· Proteas – Proteas are one of the must unique of the Hawaiian flowers. They bloom throughout the year over two-week periods, producing large flowers that vary widely in appearance based on particular sub-species. Not surprisingly, they are named after Proteus – a Greek god who could change his appearance at will. They would make a worthy addition to any garden or display featuring Hawaiian flowers.
The History of the Lei
The lei, a time-honored tradition involving Hawaiian flowers, is often one of the first things we’re taught about Hawaii as children. It’s the classic wreath of flowers presented to visitors and placed around their neck as a sign of greeting, welcome and love. But what are the origins of the lei? How did they come to be?
Originally, years ago, Hawaiian women would swim out to returning fishing boats to present the sailors with a lei of Hawaiian flowers. The lei is synonymous with the word “aloha,” which means love, mercy, compassion, pity, greetings, and goodbye all in one. Later, as the island became a tourist location, passengers of cruise ships would be greeted with a lei – oftentimes multiple ones – constructed out of a wide array of diverse and beautiful Hawaiian flowers.
The tradition of the lei has expanded today to cover many different celebrations. Weddings, graduation ceremonies, anniversaries and birthdays are all common places to find the lei, as it is a perfect addition to each one of them.
Typical leis will include orchids and carnations, which are well suited to one another. More traditional ones are made using only ti leaves. The old and long-respected maile variety was once used for weddings, during which the tribal leader, or Kahuna, would bind the hands of the newlyweds as a symbol of their union.
Hawaiian Flowers as Gifts
Hawaiian flowers make great gifts for any occasion. Most suitable for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, they will lend a fresh and beautiful air to any celebration. This flawless delivery of natural beauty and fragrant appeal is widely treasured by everyone, making them one of the top picks for floral gifts around the world.
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