Orchids in Kona

It’s easy to think that a tropical place like Hawaii is full of orchids. That’s certainly true in some parts of the islands, like Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo. However, in other parts of Hawaii, orchids aren’t as common. Kona lies on the other side of the Big Island where rains are rare, and the air is dryer. The name Kona means “leeward” or “dry side” in Hawaiian. Orchids are limited here. During a recent visit, we saw lots of Dendrobium hybrids in pots or made into leis. We also spotted some Phal hybrids for sale at a roadside stand (sitting in full sun, by the way,) but not much more.

Leis made from Dendrobium flowers for sale in KonaPotted Dendrobium orchid near KonaPhals for sale at a fruit stand in South Kona

It’s an interesting contrast to the wet side of the island, where orchids grow as weeds and drip from the trees. It’s also a reminder that orchids don’t favor deserts: they need regular moisture and good humidity. In your own home or office, whether the heater is running or the air conditioner has turned on, orchids suffer in the dry air. Many other tropical plants, like Kona’s copious bougainvillea and fragrant plumeria, are drought-tolerant. They don’t mind the dry air, but orchids do. In dry conditions, they start to attract pests, quickly lose flowers, and fail to thrive. Bring orchids to the wet side, not with more frequent waterings, but with added humidity. Meanwhile, Kona has lots more stunning flora and fauna to enjoy.

Bougainvillea flowers in KonaFragrant Plumeria flowersSaffron Finch in Kona

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5 Comments on “Orchids in Kona”

  1. RandyJ Says:

    Love that little yellow finch! How beautiful!

    I love plumerias. For years I grew one in an 8″ pot and it flowered every year. Maybe I overwatered it because I didn’t know they were drought-tolerant plants? Such a great fragrance for their flowers.

  2. Raymond L. Says:

    Kona looks so beautiful! I know the dry air is better for some plants, but I think most like some humidity. Thanks for including the pretty little yellow finch in your pictures. he looks like he’s enjoying a few crumbs to convince him to pose for the photograph.

  3. nancy Says:

    I can practically smell the sea breeze 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your vacation pics.

  4. jazmine Says:

    nice orchids
    thanks for the fotos

  5. CoufF Says:

    I thought it was a lot of beautiful orchids, when I visited Kona. I do not know what they were. Almost every restuarant and shop there were some on display.