Botanical Basics


Without fail, anytime our flower bar is stocked with these beauties, people come running. I present to you, the King Protea. 

The King Protea has the largest bloom in the massive protea family. Native to South Africa, they grow as a shrub and bloom most prolifically in the winter. The large "flower" is actually a collection of tiny true flower heads surrounded by colorful bracts that can be white, yellow, red, or the most sought after, pink. 

paiko king protea

Proteas love extreme weather conditions: dry summers and cold wet winters, so your efforts at growing them in Honolulu will be poorly rewarded. But lucky for us, the temperate climate on the high slopes of the Big Island and Maui provide perfect conditions for these artichoke-like bad boys. We work with a handful of small farms to stay stocked.


Cut the stems at an angle when you get home to get them drinking. Keep your kings fresh with water changes every few days and a floral preservative. Make your own preservative with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, a teaspoon of lemon, and a teaspoon of sugar.

And did mention they dry beautifully? When your arrangement looks tired, hang the kings upside-down to dry (this helps preserve their shape), then enjoy them for years.

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Photos by Kenna Reed unless noted
Written by Kenna Reed

Botanical Basics: Anthurium brownii

If you’ve been into the shop lately, you’ve probably noticed that Paiko has been overflowing with plants. We wanted to take the time to introduce you to one of our sexiest and easiest plants to take care of:  Anthurium brownii.

These anthuriums prefer wet, tropical environments, so it's to no surprise that they can be found from Costa Rica to Columbia. It also shouldn't be a surprise then, that Hawai'i makes an ideal habitat for them.  Anthurium brownii can be identified by its striking, ruffled, yellow veined leaves, and long spindly flowers. These aren't the type of anthurium flowers you spot at the farmers market.

This active guy flowers and fruits year round. The blooms are composed of a long protruding spadix covered in spirals of minuscule "flowers," and spathe, a leaf-like bract that hangs down beneath the spadix.   When the bloom is fresh, you  may also notice tiny (roughly 5 mm wide) "fruit" varying in color. 

Thinking of adopting your own little "brownii" ? You're in luck. They're extremely easy to take care of and can handle even the brownest of  thumbs (within reason). For lighting: Anthuriums want bright, indirect light, but can do well in partial to full shade. More indirect light = more vibrant and frequent blooms. Direct sun is too harsh and will burn leaves. For watering: Water regularly, generally whenever soil is dry to the touch (not dry to the point where soil is shrinking/cracking). Anthuriums are susceptible to root rot, so be sure to not over water. For fertilizing: Anthuriums don't require a whole lot of it. But... If you want the most out of your plant, fertilize every four months with a one-quarter strength fertilizer. 

Simple Care Breakdown:

Lighting: Partial to full shade; no direct sunlight. 

Watering: Water regularly; do not overwater. Prefers consistently moist (not drenched) soil, do not let dry out completely between waterings. 

Fertilizer: Every four months, if feeling ambitious. 



Photos and story by Kenna Reed

In Store: Paiko Holiday Workshops for December


paiko holiday workshop flyer

Tis the season for holiday decor and DIY gifts to share this winter, especially if you're seeking some handmade goodies! This December, Paiko is offering a plethora of holiday workshops for your seasonal inspiration that we can't wait to share with you. Want to have the best decked door on your block? Then maybe the Tillandsia Holiday Wreath workshop is for you. Attending the SALT Holiday Fair? Check out our Tillandsia Snowglobe class at Kaka'ako Agora. Curious about what a Kokedama is? We'll teach you at the Christmas Kokedama workshop. Hosting a Holiday party? Haku lei guru, Ann Kadowaki will kick start your Hawaiian Table Swag inspiration.

These classes compose a tight knit network of like-minded nature-loving individuals who want to be involved and spark creativity in their community. Not only are these classes educational but they're relaxing and productively stimulating.  A welcoming environment for pau hana play, pre-party girls night, or a date with your favorite person. Each class is taught by either Paiko's very own Tamara Rigney, or other respected activists in the Hawaiian horticulture community.

Interested? Check out our calendar for additional information on each workshop and to save a spot!

Here are some images from our past workshops:

Ann Kadowaki

Succulent Gardening

DIY Potting Bar


Botanical Basics: Tillandsia

Tillandsia (commonly known as air plants), are one of the easiest plant to keep around your home. Tillandsia are members of the Bromeliad family, and have grass-like leaves that are often quite alien in appearance. They can be found in deserts, forests, and mountains throughout the Americas. Like orchids and some ferns, these plants are epiphytes, meaning they survive by absorbing nutrients from water and the surrounding environment rather than soil. Unlike typical house plants, the roots of a tillandsia plant are primarily used as a support, attaching the plant to a surface or another plant. Tillandsia are great plants for landscaped terrariums, vases, and even alone on a table as décor. Although they don’t need much, giving your plant the proper care can result in a thriving, blooming plant that can add a touch of green to nearly any part of your home.

Tillandsia FAQs

My air plants just need air, right?

Sorry, but not quite. Although these plants need minimal attention to survive, they will need air, light, and occasional watering. But don’t panic, we’ll take you through it.

How much light does my plant need?

Air plants should be kept where they'll receive bright, indirect sunlight. If your plant will be in a spot with more direct light, you will probably need to water them more frequently to keep them hydrated.

How often do I water my plant?

Although tillandsia can survive for long periods of drought, like your other houseplants they will eventually die without water. The good news is that these plants are very forgiving, so don't need to worry too much if you forget a week.

Your plants should be watered by misting with a spray bottle once a week. A longer, 15-20 minute soak is recommended every 2-3 weeks. To soak your plants, simply dunk them in a bowl full of water, or hold them under running water for a few minutes. Gently shake the plants to remove any excess water from the base and the leaves, as pooled water with promote rot. A plant in bloom should be misted rather than submerged in water to avoid damaging the delicate flowers.

If your plants are in a hot, dry area, or a spot with lots of direct light, you will need to water them more frequently. One way to gauge how your plant is doing is to notice how the plant's leaves look after watering- they should will feel a bit stiffer because they are full of water. When the plant needs watering, the leaves will feel softer and appear lighter in color. If your plant's leaves start to wrinkle or roll, it's probably been too long since your last watering.

What temperature should I keep my plants at?

Air plants generally do well in warm weather, somewhere between 50-90 degrees. Luckily for us, Hawaii stays in that range, so unless you turn your A/C to sub-artic temperatures, your plant should be fine.

Ugh, so much work. Do I need to fertilize too?

You don’t have to fertilize your plant, but doing so may promote growth & blooming. You can use a Bromeliad fertilizer or a diluted houseplant fertilizer once a month.

Can I propagate my tillandsia?

You sure can! Like succulents, propagating your tillandsia is remarkably easy to do. Around the time a plant blooms, you will start to see little plants pop up, known as "pups." When the pup reaches at least one-third the size of the parent plant, you can remove the pup by gently pulling it apart from the parent. You can then mount the pup or put it in a terrarium as you would any other tillandsia.

I’ve seen air plants mounted on boards and sea shells, can I mount my plant?

You can certainly mount your tillandsia onto another surface for display, with a few considerations. First, remember that your plant will need water, so whatever you mount the plant onto will be getting wet too- choose a base that is water-resistant. Secondly, you want to glue the base of the plant (nearest to the roots) to ensure the best results. Use a waterproof glue, as your typical white glue & even hot glue will break down with repeated watering.

Can I keep my air plant in a container?

Almost any vessel will do just fine as a home for your air plant, although they do best with some air circulation, so avoid enclosed containers. These plants look great in miniature landscaped terrariums, check out our shop for inspiration!

More Botanical Basics: Orchids, Succulents    More Tillandsia: In the Shop, Tillandsia Terrarium, Wilder Magazine

Botanical Basics: Succulents

One of our favorites here at Paiko, succulents are easy to care for and come in a variety of unusual shapes. Succulent plants are drought tolerant, storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. Because of this unique water-storage system, they require less maintenance than your typical houseplant. You may already be familiar with succulents such as cacti, aloe, and jade plants, but there are a range of succulents that do well in containers, such as the rosette shaped sempervivum or the aptly named "string of pearls". These days succulents are increasingly popular, and can be found incorporated into wreaths, container gardens, and even bridal bouquets. Paiko offers a variety of succulents sourced from a local Oahu grower, so we took a trip out to the Windward side to check out their awesome plants. Afterwards, we discuss a few of the basics to get you started on own succulent garden.

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Succulent FAQ:

What kind of soil should I plant my succulent in?

You can grow your succulents in a low nitrogen compost or peat based soil with pumice or some small stones added to the base of the container for extra drainage. Beginners can buy ready-made cactus mix at most gardening stores.

How much light does my succulent need?

Succulents love light, so place yours in an area that receives bright sunlight. & You can tell your plants aren't receiving enough light if they appear compact, with little distance between the leaves. Leaves will be small, not big and floppy.

When do I water my succulent?

Water your succulent 1-2 times a week, allowing the plant to completely dry out before re-watering. Even if the succulent looks healthy the roots could still be moist and over-watering will cause root rot. Never let your succulents to sit in water. If you've been watering too much the leaves may turn yellow and fall off.

My plant fell out of the pot. Should I take this personally?

Probably, but don't panic, you can still salvage it. If your plant falls out of the pot leave it out to dry in a well ventilated area for a few weeks and then re-pot into fresh potting mix.

Can I propagate my succulent?

You sure can! Many succulents will grow from their leaves. Just twist a leaf off gently and let it callous over for about 5 days. Then place it upright into some potting mix, and water about once a week. A new plant should form from the leaf in a few weeks. Plants like aloe and agave produce little plants around their base known as pups. The pups can be gently removed and replanted.

My succulent has some strange spots...

If you notice spots, blemishes or discoloration, move the plant to increase light and air movement. If this doesn't work, try re-potting it with fresh potting mix.

The leaves are brown and dry under the main head of my rosette shaped plant, is that normal?

It's a normal part of the plant's growing cycle. If you want to you can pull them off, but dry leaves will offer greater protection from sunburn.

To create your own succulent garden & get even more tips, sign up for one of our Succulent Garden Workshops!

More Botanical Basics: Orchids. More Succulents: Succulent Bouquet, Paiko Workshop: Succulent Garden

Photos and story by: Hannah Grgich

Botanical Basics: Orchids

Orchids have a bit of a reputation for being fussy, often deterring the casual admirer, however, armed with a little knowledge, anyone can cultivate an awesome orchid nearly year round. Today we will be covering care basics for the most common and easy-to-grow orchids. Orchids are not your typical houseplant, and do not usually grow in potting soil.  In nature, most orchids are epiphytes, meaning they are found attached to trees by their roots. Orchids absorb water and nutrients from the air, rain, and debris that accumulates at their base. There are hundreds of genera of orchids, and they are indigenous to regions all over the world.  Hawaii only has three native orchids and they are all quite inconspicuous and quite rare.  The orchids you will frequently find at Paiko are Phalaenopsis, Grammatophyllum, Intergeneric hybrids, and Lady Slippers.

image-1 - Orchid Blog group

Orchid FAQ

1. Do I need to provide humidity for my orchid?

Orchids enjoy moist air, with a humidity level of 55-75%. Luckily for us, Oahu’s average humidity generally falls within this range, so no additional steps to increase humidity are needed.

2. How do I know if my orchid is getting enough light?

Orchids flourish indoors in indirect light. The leaves of your plant can help you decipher whether the plant is getting the proper amount of light. Grassy green leaves indicate that your plant is receiving enough light to bloom, whereas a plant with dark green leaves could use more light.  Inadequate light can prevent your orchid from flowering, although it will still grow. Intergeneric hybrids will tolerate a wide range of light, but watch out for black spots on the leaves, which indicate the plant is getting too much light.

3. How often should I water my orchid?

Ideally, orchids should be watered enough to keep a little continuous moisture just below the surface medium.  It is important though to not to overwater, as overwatering is probably the leading cause of orchid death. Healthy moisture levels can be achieved by thoroughly watering your plant once a week. Lady Slippers are a bit different from other orchids in that you do not want your potting mix to dry out between watering.

A good watering technique is to run the pot under water until the medium is saturated, and then allow it to drain completely before returning it to a shelf or table. If you are little lazier, the ice method of watering might be the best choice for you. This method is as simple as “watering” your plant with three ice cubes (approximately ¼ cup of water) once a week. Larger plants may require more cubes.  The ice will melt slowly, distributing the water throughout the soil without leaving a pool of water at the base.

To tell if your orchid is getting the proper amount of water, take a close look at it. If the roots are green, your orchid is well watered. If the roots appear white or grayish, or the foliage is wrinkling, then the orchid can use some more water. Yellowing leaves can indicate overwatering, so let your orchid dry out thoroughly before you water again.

4. Does my orchid need to be fertilized?

You can fertilize your plant once a month with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Orchids don’t need large doses of fertilizer, so err on the side of ‘less is more’.

5. What do I do with my orchid now that the flowers are dead?

Once your orchid is done blooming, there are several things you can do:

A.)   Take the wait and see approach; your plant may produce new buds at the end of an old flower spike.

B.)    Locate a node (a triangular shaped area on the stem), and trim your flower spike just above it. This may encourage the orchid to generate new flower spikes.

C.)    You can also remove the entire flower spike one inch from the base of the plant. By doing this, more energy will go into the leaves and roots. This will strengthen your plant to produce a new flower spike.

Encourage your orchid to bloom again by moving it to an area where the night temperatures are slightly lower than their current environment. Once your plant begins producing new flowers, avoid changing the plant's orientation to the light. This will keep the flowers from twisting on the stem and give you an even, arching flower cluster.

6. When does my orchid need repotting?

Orchids should be repotted every other year after blooming has completed. This will ensure that your roots are healthy and prevent root rot from old, soggy medium. Remove old medium from the roots, and trim off rotted roots. An unhealthy root will be slimy or feel hollow, whereas a healthy root will be firm. Once this is accomplished, you can put the orchid back in the same pot with new medium-grade wood bark. Water your orchid sparingly until new roots are established.

Repotting can also be a useful way to save an unhealthy plant. If your orchid wilts, falls out of the pot, or has pale or wrinkled leaves, repot with new potting mix.  If you have other concerns about the health of your plant, you can contact Paiko for further troubleshooting, or check out the American Orchid Society website (, which is a great source for orchid information and events.

More Botanical Basics: Protea. More Orchids: Modern Weddings Hawaii, White Cymbidium Orchids

Botanical Basics: Protea

Hawaiian Flowersmink protea and hala

This week we're starting our 'Botanical Basics' informational series on our favorite plants and flowers.   We find that things are more beautiful and meaningful when they have a story, so our goal is to provide a background for some of our most adored flora. To kick it off we decided to focus on one of our all stars, the protea. So here it goes:

One of our favorite flowers at Paiko, protea are bold and beautiful, often looking like they are from another planet.  Named after Proteus, the son of Poiseiden, true Protea were originally found in Africa, and South Africa remains the only place in the world where they naturally grow in the wild today.

We source all of our protea from upcountry Maui, on the slopes of Haleakala crater.  Protea love the cool climate and volcanic soil of this unique Hawaiian environment.  Up until a few years ago when the Kilauea volcano became very active, the Big Island also was a major source.  Unfortunately the vog from the volcano damages the flowers, so now Maui is the best place for perfect blooms.

 Hawaii Protea Farm upcountry Maui protea farms   

The protea we use most often for designing are pincushions, kings, and minks.  Its amazing they are all from the same family considering their dramatically different appearance.

Pincushion protea kind of look like sea anemone, and are one of our staples at Paiko.  They come in yellow, orange, red, and salmon tones, and work well when paired with sculptural foliage.

Kings are the giants of the protea world.  These massive guys can measure up to 10” across when fully open!  King protea are a statement flower so they look amazing on their own, with a simple accent of curly willow or fishtail palm, or in a loose, romantic, country style arrangement.  A single flower makes a great, easy wedding bouquet, either on its own or with an accent of silver eucalyptus.

Mink protea are feathery beauties that come in shades of pink, white, and green.  One of our favorite Maui varieties is the black tipped pink- so striking!  At Paiko we often pair minks with bold green hala foliage, but they also work very well with the silvery tones of eucalyptus.

King Protea king protea with midori antherium, kimi ginger, mokara orchids, and lycopodium Hawaii Protea pincushions and lycopodium, in a dracaena massangeana lined vase

To keep your flowers lasting as long as possible make sure to change the water often, every day if possible, but once every three days at the minimum. A good tip for keeping your protea or any flowers healthy, is to re-cut ½” from stem at each water change. Mink and king protea normally last around a week before they start to fade, pincushions can last up to three weeks.

More Botanical Basics: Orchids, More Protea: Wild & Pretty King Protea