Plants business blossoms: Elemental Plants owner opens nursery in Honokaa

  • Elemental Plants owner Michael Gibson helps a customer on his new nursery’s first day open in Honokaa Sept. 9. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • Gibson plans to sell 10 to 12 of the most sought after avocado varieties when in season. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • A variety of plants from all the major groups are sold at the nursery. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

HONOKAA — Michael Gibson has a thing for plants of all stripes.

On Sept. 9, they were on display at his new Elemental Plants nursery that opened that day adjacent to the Hamakua Harvest Sunday farmers market.


“A nursery has always been a key component of the multi-faceted concept of the surrounding project of Hamakua Harvest and integral to the holistic nature of its mission to promote and incentivize small scale farming and its operating sustainability, so it’s been on the drawing board for 10 years,” he said.

Run by Gibson and his staff members, Elemental Plants brings a new commercial nursery in Honokaa, in addition to others in the region.

“Every community (in North Hawaii) seems to have its share of specialty and backyard nurseries, generally open by appointment, but there are also a few other public nurseries such as Hanano Nursery and Kari Hagerman’s behind Ace Hardware in Waimea and Aikane Nursery in Hawi,” Gibson said.

So far, fruit trees, unusual ornamentals and succulents are attracting the most interest to his nursery.

He has been selling plants on Hawaii Island for about 15 years, and plans to cater to a wide cross-section of clientele from around the island at the nursery.

“The market will determine to what depth and diversity we operate from over time, but our intention is (to service everything) from wet to dry, low to high environments, through fruit trees, native and classic landscape plants, orchids and palms, Gibson said.

“Our underlying goal is to contribute a positive experience to all who come through, deepening each person’s experience of the amazing world of plants, in all of its stunning diversity. We will not be able to do this overnight, but we already have a pleasing cross-section of species and will be able to augment it weekly almost indefinitely.”

Once full stocked, Gibson said they plan to have representatives of all the major groups of plants, such as ornamental shrubs and trees, bamboos, palms, native plants, orchids and anthuriums, bromeliads and protea, ferns, succulents, herbs and veggies, fragrant plants and most of the fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.

“The nursery will emphasize species in flower or fruit or otherwise in their seasonal prime, from air plants and bromeliads to the fragrant and spectacular ornamental shrubs and trees. We will also be offering bagged soil amendments and black cinders,” he said.

Avocado trees are one of his specialties.

“We will have avocados narrowed down to the 10 or 12 most sought after that fill the many variations in customer taste and harvest season,” Gibson said.

Elemental Plants works with a half dozen nurseries regularly and another half a dozen sporadically, mostly from the fertile side of the island.

“Our goal is to contribute our own propagation skills over time so that eventually we will be making significant contributions to the mix,” Gibson explained.

Being a botanist was a job that choose him.

“(It happened) on a long road trip on the mainland, when I was instinctively seeking out many of the great botanical gardens that the country has to offer, and feeling a lot of inspiration and incentive,” Gibson said.

Unwilling to share his personal favorite, he hinted that the plant is labelled as “the world’s most beautiful tree.”

“When we have it, you’ll have to come by to see what that is since the selections of each category are ever morphing with new hybrids and seasonal variations, and evolving favorites,” Gibson said with a grin.

Elemental Plants will also continue their booth Saturdays at the Kamuela Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables.

“It is well established and a perfect segue to the upcountry community. We will likely continue with that presence for the foreseeable future,” he concluded.


Elemental Plants nursery at Hamakua Harvest in Honokaa is open Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Info: Call 775-9198

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