We are so excited for the debut of the new-and-improved PlantPono.org! Find out more about a plant before you buy, or search for suggestions for the perfect non-invasive plant for your property.
From homeowners putting their first plant in the ground to landscape architects designing major projects, Hawaii’s residents need a reliable and scientifically-based tool to make the right planting choices to protect our islands. After years of development and the building of a database of nearly 2000 plant species, the PlantPono.org website was launched. For five years, this great tool was available to gardeners of all levels to help with plant selection. But in April 2018, hackers targeting University websites found a vulnerability in the aging page, and down it went.
We decided to turn this disaster into opportunity. Getting the site up and running meant a chance to give PlantPono.org a fresh look and enhanced features. Over the next few months, we worked with local website developers Websites with Aloha, HPWRA specialist Chuck Chimera of HISC, and University of Hawaii database specialists to develop the new-and-improved site. Besides new pictures and headings, we added new options for searchability and easy-to-understand graphics for assessing a plant’s likely invasiveness.
The home page offers two ways to search for plants. To learn more about a specific plant, simply type in the common name, synonyms, or scientific name into the “Search by Name” box on the lower left side of the screen. This search box is very forgiving of misspellings! Nearly 2000 plants have been assessed by botanists using the Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA), and by using this search you’ll find out quickly if your selected plant is considered likely to be invasive in Hawaii. Remember, native plants do not have a HPWRA designation (natives are never considered invasive in their home range), so if you want to find out more about a specific native plant, click on the “Find a Pono Plant” box to get to the next section.
Clicking on “Find a Pono Plant” brings you to a page with a wealth of options to find the plant that is right for your landscape. Drop down menus allow you to choose from a multitude of characteristics: elevation range, native, growth forms (tree, bush, bamboo, etc.), color palette, sunlight and drainage requirements, propagation methods, salt tolerance, etc. Furthermore, the plant uses can be sorted! They include: bonsai, cut flower, nitrogen fixer, wind break, edibility, shade tolerance and many more. Try out interesting combinations and see what results come up. Sorting by “non-native, nitrogen fixer, and windbreak” yields 4 non-invasive pono plants. More plants are researched and uploaded almost every day, so check back regularly!
Have an invader in your neighborhood? Find out about that suspicious plant by clicking on the top menu under the tab “Plant Assessment”, and click on “Don’t Plant These” to investigate what plants to avoid growing. All of these plants scored high risk on the HPWRA, meaning they already are or are likely to be invasive in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. These can be sorted by the common or scientific name and by growth form (vine, succulent, grass, ground cover, etc.). The enhanced species pages for invasive plants includes information on: the history of cultivation, their native range, description, and invasive characteristics. Some invasive plant profiles include alternative choices that are unlikely to be invasive. Soon, we will be adding treatment information to rid yourself of pesky plants in your yard.
Besides all the great plant information, the new PlantPono.org website promotes pono businesses. Click on your island under “Pono Businesses” to learn who in the green industry is doing the right thing by growing pono (to date, Hawai’i Island and Kaua’i are the only participating islands, but we’re looking forward to others in the future). Pono businesses are endorsed annually, and they agree to not sell or propagate invasive plants and to implement best management practices to reduce the spread of pests. Supporting these businesses is a big step towards maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Visit PlantPono.org today!