Hawaiian chocolate and orchids are perfect gifts for Mother’s Day

  • Hawaiian chocolates and orchids are a good start on your Mother’s Day gift quest, but there are many other options as well. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

  • Chocolates are popular as Mother’s Day gifts. A living cacao plant is another option that can create interest in the garden. (Voltaire Moise/Special to West Hawaii Today)

We just celebrated Cinco de Mayo and Boys’ (Childrens’) Day a few days ago but don’t let that distract you from the really big day. It is Mother’s Day, and if you forget any of those favorite women in your life, you are in real trouble. Trying to wrack your brains for just the right last-minute gift can be frustrating. Don’t panic — relax and be creative at the same time. If you plan a restaurant brunch or dinner to celebrate, be prepared for crowds and a long wait unless you have made reservations well in advance.

This is a great time to visit garden shops and nurseries to take care of those last minute gifts. Orchid plants make the perfect gifts for those special friends and relatives. You may actually find cacao plants available. They are an interesting addition to the garden. They do require shade and wind protection, growing best below 2000 feet.


Locally grown chocolate makes yummy gifts as well. Speaking of chocolate, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource (CTAHR) extension agents working with cacao farmers, noted that Hawaiian chocolate is a rapidly growing new crop for Hawaii. In 2018, more than 81 acres were harvested with a yield of almost 44,000 pounds. Both 2019 and 2020 have shown increases in acreage and yields as well. In the next few years, the acreage is expected to more than double. If you are interested in cacao farming, processing and the market, contact CTAHR for information. Hawaiian chocolates and orchids are a good start on your Mother’s Day gift quest, but there are many other options as well.

To avoid the headaches, enjoy your shopping by being different. You would be surprised at how many different plants make great gifts. With a little love and care, you can give a gift that really has some meaning. All the foliage plants may be spruced up with bright ribbons and clever cards, but some plants are more in keeping with the special occasion than others. In giving living plants, use your imagination with the containers, decorations, and wrapping. You can put more love in this type of gift than most other types unless you consider hand made bedspreads, home made cookies and other delectable edibles.

First and foremost, flowers are a natural. Hydrangeas are traditional for Mom. Most folks think of hydrangeas as a cool-climate shrub that does best in Volcano, Kaloko Mauka, and Waimea, but they may be grown almost anywhere in Hawaii given enough water and some shade in warmer lowland areas. Orchids, bromeliads and anthurium varieties are appropriate as well. Then there are hibiscus varieties with flowers from white to red and yellow with every color in between. The many gardenia varieties with white flowers and green leaves on pendulous branches makes a fragrant gift. The cinnamon gardenia, tiare and endemic Hawaiian gardenias are favorites. Some azaleas and several new tropical Rhododendrons are even on the market.

Potted blooming orchid plants, and bromeliads are just a few plants you might consider to use in the home and when their color wanes, place them in your tropical garden.

The fun of giving plants to mom, sister, daughter and wife is that you can then plan together on how to best present them in the home or garden. It is a bonding experience for those who prepare and give the gift as well as the special lady who receives it. In getting your gifts ready, start with the right container. Wooden tubs are excellent since wood prevents rapid drying out of the soil. Jardinieres usually lack drainage holes, which may cause a watering problem. Clay pots are fine and can be painted to blend with the colors in the home. Brass and copper are ideal for table and mantle arrangements. But, as these containers are usually small, pay careful attention to supplies of water and fertilizer.

If you have run out of time, as a last resort you might consider a gift certificate from a local nursery for flowers or plants.


To be satisfactory, plants must do more than merely survive. They must maintain an attractive appearance with a minimum of care. For problem interiors, check with your local garden center or nursery to help you make the right choice.

This information is supplied by CTAHR. For more information, contact the CTAHR Master Gardener Helpline at (808) 322-4893 in Kona or (808) 981-5199 in Hilo.

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