How to Grow Hawaiian Maile

by Don Davis
The green leis on this woman's head and around her neck are made of maile.

The green leis on this woman's head and around her neck are made of maile.

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Maile is a sweet-smelling flowering vine native to the Hawaiian Islands; it was the plant originally used to make leis. Aboriginal Hawaiians had many names for the plant. Maile lau li'i had small leaves and maile lau nui had big leaves. Maile kaluhea smelled the sweetest and maile ha'i wale was brittle. Maile still grows on all the islands except Kahoolawe and Niihau, but it is endangered. Botanists are unsure why the plant is disappearing. But most of the maile that now decorates Hawaiian proms and weddings is actually grown in the Cook Islands. It must be grown in tropical areas.

Items you will need

  • Maile fruits
  • Plastic bag
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Small flower pots or soil cups
  • Perlite
  • Potting soil
  • Spray bottle
Step 1

Ripen maile fruits in a plastic bag until the fruits become soft. Maile fruits are dark purple and have two or more segments. Each segment holds a seed.

Step 2

Crush the maile fruits and soak them in cold water in a bowl for six hours. Discard the fruit and any seeds that float. Wash the remaining seeds.

Step 3

Plant the seeds in small flower pots or soil cups filled with a mixture of three parts perlite and one part potting soil.

Step 4

Store the pots or soil cups in a covered location and mist them every 48 hours with a spray bottle filled with water. The seeds will germinate in 30-35 days.

Step 5

Transplant the sprouts to a partially shaded location near rocks or at the base of trees.

Step 6

Water the plants daily until they are established. Water established plants when the ground around them goes dry.

About the Author

Don Davis has been a professional writer since 1977. He has had numerous writing jobs, including writing news and features for the "Metrowest Daily News" and "Los Angeles Herald-Examiner." Davis has a Bachelor of Arts in English and history from Indiana State University.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images