How to Plant a Garden in Hawaii: Tips and Tricks for Growing Tropical Plants and Vegetables (updated)

Gardening in Hawaii can be fun and challenging to grow your own food on the island. Learning how to plant a garden in Hawaii has its challenges, but If are looking for an easy and fast way to grow a garden no matter how large or small, keep on reading. Also, those that love tropical fruits and veggies, follow the steps and tips below to help you get started and enjoy spending time on the garden. You will love planning a garden and reap the benefits of growing some of your own food on the islands.

There’s so much joy in reconnecting with the land, no matter how small – it can even be a group of small pots with fresh herbs, tomatoes and easy to grow vegetables clustered together. Learning how to plant a garden in Hawaii is fun and getting your hands into the soil is good for your mind, body and soul. It’s easy to plant a garden in Hawaii, the tough part is in the planning, prepping and eventual maintenance required for abundant produce.

Plant a garden in Hawaii

Some basics to gardening in Hawaii

It’s surprising how fast it is to start a kitchen garden and learning to growing your own fruits and vegetables here in Hawaii. A good part of the process is inspiration, knowing what you want to grow and the learning process. Now is a great time to start and here are some of the tools you need below to get going quickly in growing your own fruits and veggies.

Planning your edible Hawaiian garden

If the thought of being able to start growing your own garden sounds too intimidating, it really isn’t, and you can always start small at first and control the entire process on your own time. You’ll definitely love the sense of accomplishment and seeing something growing from your efforts and yes love. Amazing to think that you can actually grow your own food, herbs or ingredients with a little effort, daily care and nurturing plants through the various growth stages to production.

Growing veggies in Hawaii

As inspiration, check out some of the wonderful and simple gardening websites or even You Tube videos of getting a garden started with these easy fruit trees that grow well on the islands or even fast growing vegetables that you can harvest quickly here in Hawaii.

Here’s some more important considerations below on getting that garden going right away.

Decide how much garden area to plant and maintain

There’s a lot of work in prepping an area and making the soil workable and rich along with doing daily maintenance of a garden.  You should think about how much area you can really dedicate to take care of including weeding, fertilizing, watering, pest control on a daily basis. The more land you dedicate to growing, the more effort it will take to maintain those growing beds.

Growing fruits and veggies in Hawaii

Growing an edible garden with limited space

With limited space or growing pots or a small space each spot has to really work and produce well so care has to be given to make the decisions on what can grow well or what you really want to try to grow in this space. This might include herbs, garlic or onions, bakchoy, lettuce and radishes that can do well in smaller spaces to more fruity tomatoes, strawberry and other small to medium sized plants. If you grow vertically, you can also grow tomatoes, beans, cucumbers or pumpkins if you create trellised support for them to grow tall.

Here’s some fun techniques with small space ideas to inspire you with limited space

Tips to starting a garden in Hawaii

Tips to starting a garden in Hawaii

Take the time to see what grows in your area well and ask your friends and neighbors what can be successful and easy to grow in your particular area.

Pick the right plants to grow in Hawaii

Choose plants that grow in Hawaii and in the right location

Even though Hawaii is perfect for growing a kitchen garden doesn’t mean all veggies or fruits will grow well here. Depending on elevation, soil condition, watering and climates, you need plants that will grow well in so many zones of these tropical environments. For choosing the best vegetables to grow, consider what is doing well in your area, this might include: taro, eggplant, okra, beans, spinach, lettuce, tropical peppers and herbs for instance. The UH Hawaii’s has studied and created some of the best growing plants for a kitchen garden, in their growing programs. Check out these hardy and successful plants below for more inspiration.

If you are more interested in fruit trees or indigenous food plants, check out the wonderful fruit trees you can easily grow in your garden to include bananas, citrus, pineapples, papaya and many on the list of easy plants and maintenance on the CTAR Website here for more inspiration.

You can go on the University of Hawaii CTARH website here for seeds that have grown well in Hawaii and you can order by form on the site.

Good soil and preparation is essential

It takes a good base in prepping up your soil, adding good amendments, mulch and drainage for plants to grow well and fast in our sunny tropical environments. In Hawaii we have lava, sand, clay and very poor soils, so you need to learn what type of soil you have and want you can do to add more nutrients and even more soil to build up your beds. Depending on the size of garden you want to build, you can buy bags of good soil and mulch or have delivery service done to help you in building healthy soil and beds for planting.

Time to get your hands dirty and prepare the garden soil in three simple steps

Backyard landscaping and make your growing area accessible

Find a spot that is easy to move soil, nutrients, your tools and even water that you can do daily in an area that is accessible.

When you make things easier to maintain your garden, finding an easy spot to get to everyday from your home is essential in making those daily chores possible is crucial. So plan ahead and find an area in the garden that makes it easy to get to and move all the necessary tools and other materials to the growing area.

Sometimes getting a new berm started in unused areas might be the easiest thing to do with new soil, mulch and amendments to getting the soil prepped and then planting tried and true plants that work well in your zone.

maintaining a kitchen garden in Hawaii

Tending your garden in Hawaii

We have so many other conditions to consider here in Hawaii from heat and humidity, wildlife and ongoing pest control to consider in protecting growing starts in the growing process. A diligent process of checking daily on plant health, fertilizing and pest control is important to checking growth patterns and health during this crucial time frame. Plants crave good nutrients from the soil to develop good structure and food for consumption.

Growing tropoical fruit in Hawaii

Plants need 8 hours of sun to be healthy and productive

You need a place that actually gets sun to be able to not have shade, competing plants that take nutrients and other impediments to growing and producing the best produce for you. Make sure you site containers, planting beds in areas that allow for enough sun to grow viable and healthy plants to produce well.

Growing veggies in Hawaii

Consider succession gardening

For plants that can last longer seasons or can have seasonal crops that can be prepared in different beds for transition. Longer surviving plants like tomatoes, herbs and eggplant can be grown in one area while other plants staggered that produce at a certain time frame like corn, lettuce, beets, turnips and other seasonal crops.

Here’s a look at succession gardening overview below

Fertilizing your garden in Hawaii

Fertilizing your garden can be intensive or easy depending on if you use chemical or organic fertilizers. Many will opt for easy chemical purchases that you can buy from local stores and depending on your particular fruit or vegetable can be generic or more specific to a specialty crop or fruit. For a more thorough discussion on Fertilizing your edible garden, check out this guide for more details and what to do during the growth to production phase.

Organic fertilizers can be a little bit more work but yield good production with some effort and you can also purchase some of these directly from specialty retailers. This includes:

Composting – you can create a compost pile and spread or use as a top dressing to your plants

Compost tea – create a watered version from any of the ingredients below to spray or water your plants at various stages of their growth cycle.

Chicken manure

Male urine – has to be diluted but has excellent nitrogen which helps in the growth stage

Worm castings

Fish meal

Wood ash or biochar

Pest control in Hawaii

There’s a lot of pests that love to devour plants and fruit so being diligent in your daily inspections is necessary to plant health and creating produce for consumption. Things you can typically use including insecticidal soaps, traps or sprays are needed or organic treatments or even water spraying is what you may consider for producing healthy plants and produce. Check out these typical pests in the Hawaiian garden and effective treatments to maintaining plant growth.

Here’s a fun primer on pest control in the garden

Gardening resources for Hawaii

Weeding and other maintenance

Weeding is always crucial in a kitchen garden with weeds that can quickly take over a garden in no time. What is a small seedling ends up being a massive weed patch in not time. Weeds take up all the valuable nutrients, water and even sun from your kitchen garden so daily maintenance is necessary. The best way to control weeds in the garden includes the following solutions

Daily weeding of small seedlings before they get large

Deep mulching to prevent weed seeds to grow through

Using a weed cover with your desired plants growing through

Add a drip system to only the plants that will receive all the watering needs and not the weeds around them.

Daily visits to your garden, checking for pests and other damages to the plants that can be minimized including controlling snails, slugs and other aggressive insects and keeping them in check. Fertilizing for different stages of growth and fruiting. Watering needs especially on hot sunny days and staking your developing fruits and veggies that can easily drop or brake off.

Garden video inspiration

Check out these fantastic Hawaiian gardening video basics to get you started on growing abundant fruits and vegetables at home now.

Gardening 101 basics

Starting perennials in Hawaii

Check out these easy plants to grow in Hawaii for a tropical perennial vegetable garden. You’ll be amazed with what you can produce here.

Top Vegetables to Grow in Hawaii

These tend to be the easiest vegetable plants to grow and experiment with in your vegetable garden.

I. Sweet Potato

  • Grows well in Hawaii’s warm and humid climate
  • Nutritious and versatile, can be baked, boiled, mashed, or fried
  • Requires well-draining soil and ample water

II. Taro

  • A staple crop in Hawaiian cuisine
  • Can be grown in both wet and dry conditions
  • Rich in carbohydrates, fiber, and various nutrients

III. Green Beans

  • Easy to grow and fast-maturing
  • Can be grown year-round in Hawaii
  • Provide a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins

IV. Lettuce

  • Grows well in Hawaii’s cooler and higher elevation areas
  • Provides a good source of vitamins and minerals
  • Can be harvested multiple times if planted in succession

V. Cucumber

  • Grows well in Hawaii’s warm and humid climate
  • High in water content and low in calories
  • Can be eaten raw or cooked

VI. Eggplant

  • Thrives in Hawaii’s hot and sunny weather
  • Rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants
  • Requires well-draining soil and regular watering

VII. Squash

  • Can be grown year-round in Hawaii
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Comes in various varieties, local caboca and butternut

Overall, growing these vegetables can provide a sustainable source of fresh produce for Hawaii’s residents and visitors.

Fast producing fruit trees in Hawaii

Easy and fast growing fruit trees to have in your Hawaiian garden, these six fruit trees are proven winners.

Locally adaptable annuals in Hawaii

Here’s a look at the most productive annual vegetables that grow and produce very well in Hawaii and maybe even longer than one season.

fast growing vegetables in hawaii

Check out these gardening resources

University of Hawaii Master garden growing links from CTAHR

Non-invasive fruit trees in Hawaii

Yard and garden nutrient management

Fast growing vegetables in a garden

Pineapple growing season in Hawaii

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

Avocado season in Hawaii

Mango season in Hawaii

Traditional Hawaiian food favorites

Breadfruit in Hawaii

Please pin this for later

Pinterest planting a garden in Hawaii

Conclusion to growing a garden in Hawaii

Growing a food tropical garden in Hawaii can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. With the right knowledge and techniques, you can successfully cultivate a variety of nutritious and delicious vegetables that thrive in Hawaii’s warm and humid climate. By choosing the top vegetables to grow in Hawaii such as sweet potato, taro, green beans, lettuce, cucumber, eggplant, and squash, you can create a sustainable source of fresh produce for yourself and your community. So roll up your sleeves, dig in, and get ready to enjoy the abundance of a thriving garden in the beautiful Aloha State!

Gardening in Hawaii is a matter of learning what grows best in Hawaii, education, daily chores and inspection and just getting your hands dirty. Hopefully with all this care and fun in the process, you’ll also end up with some wonderful fruit and vegetables to enjoy from your own gardening pursuits when you plant a garden in Hawaii.

Let’s hear about your success stories and tips in the comment section below, thanks.

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  1. Jackie Smith

    I have loved following your gardening in Hawaii. I have yet to plant my seeds in Greece but you have inspired me to do so this week. It is fun to harvest your crops. I can hardly wait for your post on harvesting!!

    • emorata

      I actually started to harvest my first batch of bush beans which is exciting and a whole slew of herbs already being used from planing this garden in Hawaii

  2. Doreen Pendgracs

    Hi Noel. We still have snow on the ground & the ground is frozen. But I have planted some seeds inside. Lucky you to be gardening in Hawaii.

    • emorata

      Yes spring is amazing and planting a garden in Hawaii is fantastic in getting a head start and longer production season.



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.