Having a productive garden in Hawaii is easy to accomplish so long as you have the right plan. Below we’ll walk you through which plants thrive in Hawaii, when to plant in Hawaii, and how to adapt your garden as the seasons change.
Hardiness zones, sometimes referred to as “growing zones” or “planting zones”, were created by the USDA to help gardeners determine which plants are best suited for a particular location.
Hawaii encompasses 5 hardiness zones. They are zones 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Before we get started, determine which zone you live in by visiting this interactive USDA hardiness zone map.
At their core, hardiness zones only represent how cold a particular area gets in winter. This information, combined with the average frost dates for your area, is the key to planting the right herbs and vegetables in Hawaii.
Below, we’ll guide you through the best crops to grow in your zone in Hawaii and when to plant them.
If you’re living in Hawaii planting zones 10, 11, 12 and 13, congratulations! You’ve won the lottery in terms of spring weather for gardening. Zones 10, 11, 12 and 13 typically do not experience frost, which means most common produce will happily grow in your garden throughout March, April, and May.
Some of our favorites for spring planting in these zones are crops you can continue harvesting well into summer, such as butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, anaheim peppers, banana peppers, and jalapenos. The world is your oyster, so plant what you like!
During the spring in Hawaii zone 9, try planting short season produce in March that prefer cold weather, such as romaine lettuce, kale, and iceberg lettuce.
These crops will feel much more comfortable in the moderate temperatures of spring, as opposed to the intensity of a Hawaii summer. And their short growing period means once temperatures begin to rise, they’ll be ready to harvest and replaced with plants more adapt to the Hawaii heat.
Classic home garden produce, such as cucamelons, green beans, bell peppers, and sweet peppers are great options for mid-to-late spring planting.
For warm weather crops such as these, start seedlings indoors in March. In April and May, once temperatures at night are consistently above 50 degrees, transplant established plants to the garden.
Hawaii hardiness zones 10, 11, 12 and 13 have a pretty long growing season. Because of this, you can get away with harvesting the majority of crops through the end of fall to the beginning of winter.
Aim to plant your fall crop in August or September. If you’re looking for produce you can continue harvesting well into winter, try broccoli, green peas, and iceberg lettuce.
Feel free to experiment with other common produce that don’t fall in the cold hardy category, such as butternut squash, eggplants, anaheim peppers, and okra. Again, try to aim for plating in late summer, such as August or September. Be sure to watch the forecast as winter approaches, and cover plants with a blanket of straw or plastic buckets if temperatures dip down to the 40s. You may be surprised to see how resilient your plants can be in zones 10, 11, 12 and 13.
Want to keep gardening in Hawaii zone 9 even as the weather cools? You might be surprised by your options!
Fall crops for Hawaii zone 9 are typically planted around July and August. This should give the plant enough time to establish itself before cold weather begins to set in. Think cold-loving crops such as kale, collard greens, and beets. Hardy root vegetables and durable leafy greens are great options, especially if you’re looking for something to plant in September or early October.
See our full list of growing guides for cold weather vegetables and warm weather vegetables for more inspiration.