Quick Answer: Best Vegetables to grow in Hawaii
The best vegetables to grow in a Hawaii garden are beans, cherry tomato, eggplant, pepper, summer squash, greens (katuk, lettuce), and roots (kalo, sweet potato). Given Hawaii’s climate, most vegetables can be grown all year, though kau (summer) is the best season to grow.
Check out this well-researched guide to help you figure out the best veggies you can grow in Hawaii.
- Quick Answer: Best Vegetables to grow in Hawaii
- Best Vegetables to Grow in Hawaii
- 1. Beans
- 2. Cherry Tomato
- 3. Eggplant
- 4. Pepper
- 5. Summer squash
- 6. Katuk
- 7. Lettuce
- 8. Kalo
- 9. Sweet Potato
- What is the easiest-growing vegetable in Hawaii?
- What is the best time to grow vegetables in Hawaii?
- Quick Recap: Top Vegetables to Grow In Hawaii
Hawaii has a humid tropical climate with mild temperatures all year and notable variations in precipitation within short distances.
It has only two seasons, kau (summer) and hoʻoilo (winter), both of which are very mild.
In Hawaii, there are lava, sand, clay, and very poor soils, so you should be aware of the soil type in your area before growing vegetables.
Additionally, you must select the vegetable variety that is best for your region.
Below is the list of the best vegetables to grow in Hawaii.
Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are biennial plants native to Peru. They are considered a “superfood” for their nutritious values.
There are varieties of beans that are native to tropical climates and would thrive in Hawaii.
Most varieties of beans are easy to grow, require little water, are drought tolerant, require a small space to grow, and are nitrogen fixers that will enrich the soil.
Beans prefer 6-8 hours of sunlight and well-drained, mildly acidic soil devoid of soil salts. Because of their shallow root system, they require careful upkeep and routine weeding.
Bacterial blight and leaf beetles are common concerns.
Here is a guide to growing snap beans:
2. Cherry Tomato
Cherry Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) is an easy-growing variety of tomatoes and looks similar to a cherry. This annual plant is native to the Peru–Ecuador area.
The tomato cultivar grows the easiest on the islands and is most suited to Hawaii’s climate.
You can have multiple harvests from a small number of plants as there are no harsh winters to harm the plants.
Cherry tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A and lycopene, which limit UV rays from damaging your skin.
It is best to grow them in containers and even though the plants require full sun, it is ideal to shade them when it gets overly warm.
Plant after the hottest months, and provide fertilizers rich in calcium and magnesium. Too little or too much water will harm the plant.
Common concerns are fungal wilt diseases, tomato spotted wilt virus, walnut toxicity, and stalk borers.
Here is a guide to growing cherry tomatoes:
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is tropical, herbaceous, and annual. Native to India, it belongs to the tomato family.
It can be grown all year round in Hawaii.
Eggplants prefer an optimum temperature of 70°F to 85°F, which coincidentally is the rough average temperature of Hawaii.
There are many varieties that would grow well in a home garden, these include long, round, or oval, and small, pickling types.
They are also typically drought-tolerant. They do not require an external pollinator.
Well-drained soil that is mildly acidic is perfect for eggplants. Mulch the soil to protect them from high soil temperatures.
Appropriate irrigation (2-3 times a week) is required during fruiting to ensure proper fruit development.
Insects like leaf miners, flea beetles, aphids, and mites as well as diseases like bacterial wilt are common concerns.
Here is a guide to growing eggplants:
Peppers (Capsicum annuum) are related to eggplants and belong to the nightshade family. Native to Mexico, the plant comes in a range of flavors from sweet to fiery, and lives for 3-5 years.
This is a plant well suited to the winter climate of Hawaii. It requires a temperature range of 65-75°F
They can be grown in containers and are plentiful producers. Some varieties are insect hardy.
Keep a routine check of weeds and remove them early, as tall weeds can harbor insects. Fertilize as necessary, but excess nitrogen fertilization can cause flower drop.
If not watered adequately, plants might develop blossom end rot.
Here is a guide to growing peppers:
5. Summer squash
Summer squashes (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo) are annuals that grow on compact, non-sprawling vines and are harvested at an immature stage when the rind is still delicate.
They include green and yellow zucchini, Summer Crookneck, Early Straightneck, White Scallop, and Cocozelle.
Given Hawaii’s climate, they can be grown year-round successfully, although it’s best to plant them before the onset of summer for the best results.
There are various varieties and hybrids that are well suited to growing in Hawaii and may be cultivated in a variety of soil conditions.
Squashes have a shallow root system and would require caution during cultivation. Weed removal becomes harder once the plants become bushy.
Mulch the soil to help retain adequate warmth.
Aphids, cutworms, leaf miners, melon flies, and white flies are common insects that harm these plants.
Damping-off, nematodes, powdery mildew, and mosaic viruses are also common concerns.
Here is a guide to growing zucchini and bush squash:
Katuk (Sauropus androgynus) also known as Pak wan is a shrub grown in tropical regions as a leaf vegetable.
Native to Southeast Asia, this perennial is called tropical asparagus in its tender stage.
As already mentioned, this plant is well-suited to thrive in tropical climates. It can be grown as a hedge plant or a potted plant. It will be best to plant it in the winter of Hawaii.
It propagates quickly from cuttings and grows quickly.
Katuk can tolerate full sun if watered consistently, and the plant is relatively pest-hardy. It can tolerate light floods and shade.
Katuk needs plenty of water and will not tolerate dry conditions. Use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen twice a year. Mulch the soil using an organic mulch to retain moisture.
It is typically pest-hardy but slugs and snails are a concern.
Here is a guide to growing Katuk:
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is popularly grown as a leafy vegetable.
Native to the Mediterranean region, planting to harvesting for this annual plant takes around 65-130 days.
Lettuce is an easy-to-grow plant that would grow best at higher elevations in Hawaii due to colder temperatures.
Lettuce is also grown year-round in most home gardens in Hawaii, however, that would include selecting the best variety for your region.
Lettuce can be grown in small spaces like pots, requires little water, little to no fertilization, and can be grown in many soil types.
Excessive fertilization might lead to soluble salt buildup and phytotoxic effects on plant growth. Lettuce can tolerate some salt, but not much.
Tip burn might happen when it’s hot and dry outside. Plastic or organic mulch can be used to increase the effectiveness of fertilizer and water utilization as well as for weed control.
Some common concerns are insects like aphids, leaf miners, leafhoppers, caterpillars, mites, thrips, and whiteflies and diseases like bacterial leaf spots and rots.
Here is a guide to growing lettuce:
Kalo (Colocasia esculenta) or Taro are tropical plants grown primarily as root vegetables for their edible corms.
Native to Southeast Asia, the plant takes about 6-12 months to mature.
It is one of the leading food crops of Hawaiian people and can be grown all year round.
Some varieties grow well in the hot and humid tropical climate of the islands.
Kalo is used to prepare poi, a staple food of the Hawaiians. Apart from the corms, the leaves are also edible.
Compared to most other root and tuber crops, kalo is more nutrient-dense.
Corms and leaves are excellent protein, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron providers.
The plants need heavy watering and full sun. The leaves may be picked throughout the growing
season, but over-harvesting reduces corm size. During the growing season, fertilize twice or thrice (potash is especially crucial).
Common concerns include brown leaf margins, leaf tip dieback, aphids, broad mite, taro beetle, and problems due to underwatering.
Here is a guide to growing Kalo:
9. Sweet Potato
Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) is another tropical plant grown as a root vegetable for its large, starchy, sweet-tasting tuberous roots.
Typically grown annually, the plant is native to South and Central America.
They are an essential part of the Hawaiian culture and history. Plenty of varieties are suited to Hawaii and grow all year round.
Hawaii has a climate that is well-suited for the growth of sweet potatoes. The climate is so favorable that the plant grows enormous roots even in pockets of volcanic rocks. Most of Hawaii’s terrain is suitable for growing sweet potatoes.
They are easy to grow, low maintenance, drought tolerant, and help to improve and conserve soil and suppress weeds.
Keep them in a warm, sunny, sheltered location, and water and feed them on a regular basis.
Provide a high potassium liquid feed every two weeks.
Despite their drought tolerance, these plants prefer to be kept moist. Excessive nitrogen fertilization can reduce yield.
Japanese beetle, leaf miner, sphinx, leaf roller, cutworms, weevils, etc are common insect pests. Black rot, stem rot, blight, pit, etc are some common diseases.
Here is a guide to growing sweet potato slips:
What is the easiest-growing vegetable in Hawaii?
Sweet potato, kalo, and other root vegetables like radishes are the easiest to grow in Hawaii. They grow fast, require little maintenance, and often little space.
Both summer and winter in Hawaii are well suited to growing vegetables, depending on the type. However, summer will be more suitable.
You can start planting around mid June.
Because of Hawaii’s tropical climate and mild seasons, most vegetables can be grown year-round as their optimal requirements are met.
Zone 11, meaning the annual minimum temperature range is relatively warm and is usually between 40℉ and 50℉.
Cucumber is a warm-weather crop that may be produced in Hawaii all year.
The best growth occurs when the temperature is 70°F or greater.
Quick Recap: Top Vegetables to Grow In Hawaii
|1. Drought hardy, less space
|1. Easy growing
2. Multiple harvest
|1. Drought tolerant
2. Do not require an external pollinator
|1. Require less space
2. Produce well for the space given
|1. Many varieties, grows in containers
2. Low maintenance
|1. Grows quickly
2. Pest, light flood and shade hardy
|1. Less space and low maintenance
2. Easy to grow
|1. Staple to Hawaii
2. Nutrient dense, stores well
|1. Suppress weeds, pests, diseases
2. Improve and conserve soil
I hope this list will help you decide what all you can grow in your backyard in Hawaii.
Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions or suggestions.