Tropical Gardening Helpline: Can aalii be propagated? - West Hawaii Today

2022-09-19 04:53:40 By : Mr. Please Contact Evin Wong

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 | Today's Paper | 81.149°

Kris asks: I have a small native Hawaiian aalii tree in front of my house and would like to put another one in my yard. Can I propagate from the tree I have with seeds or cuttings?

Kris asks: I have a small native Hawaiian aalii tree in front of my house and would like to put another one in my yard. Can I propagate from the tree I have with seeds or cuttings?

Tropical Gardener Answer: Actually aalii is pretty easy to propagate from seeds. The tree produces green and red flower in clusters which develop into small seed capsules that are reddish or tan and paper thin. They usually contain two or four small round black seeds.

Collect the seed capsules when they are dry and start falling off the plant. Remove the seeds from the capsules and put them in a dry paper bag to store. They will last a few years if kept dry and cool but those planted soon after harvest will have a better germination rate.

Twenty-four hours before planting, soak the seeds in tap water to scarify the seed coat and decrease germination time. Any seeds that float when soaked are not viable and should be discarded.

Sow the seeds in a tray with good drainage onto a mix of 1 part potting soil and 3 parts perlite. Keep the medium most (not wet), watering when needed. Keep the trays out of direct sun or heavy rain until the seedlings appear. Some should emerge in two weeks while others may take up to six months to appear.

Pot the new seedlings into a nutritional mix of potting soil and let them grow for six months or more before planting in the spot you have chosen in your yard. During this early stage in their growth, you can foliar feed as often as weekly to give them a good start.

You can also grow aalii plants from cuttings. Some propagators report, however, that the plants grown from seed have stronger roots and are usually heartier. To try growing from cuttings take a woody section of the plant about the diameter and length of a pencil, dip it in a rooting compound and place it in a damp mix of perlite and vermiculite. Keep the mix moist until the cuttings root and put our new leaves then move them to a pot and do foliar fertilizing until they are large and healthy enough to move to your garden.

Enjoy your new plant. It will grow slowly but with careful pruning should take on a lovely shape and become an attractive native Hawaiian landscape plant.

E-mail plant questions to for answers by Certified Master Gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.

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1. aalii dried seed pods by Kim and Forest Starr – “The dried seed capsules of the aalii usually contain at least 2 small round black seeds that germinate easily.”

2. aalii fruit by Kim and Forest Starr – “aalii flowers fade from red to tan before they dry.”

3. aalii flowers by Kim and Forest Starr – “When the bright red aalii flowers fade in color and dry on the tree, the seeds are ready to plant.”