Gardening at 4000 Feet on the Island of Maui


It is surprising to see the variety of plants that will grow at higher altitudes, almost up in the clouds.


These gardeners pay careful attention to the plants they select and understand the weather and its effect on growth. Knowing climate, growing seasons, soil conditions, moisture and pest control, things that all gardeners should know no matter where they garden, results in minimal failures with maximum success. Gardening at higher altitudes takes into account the slope of the land and its exposure to the sun.


For instance, if it is sloping to the west, that means it’s slow to heat up in the mornings but the warm afternoon temperatures will carry the warmth into the evening. Insect activity occurs differently than at lower altitudes too. We were told the insects arrive later in the season, but in greater numbers than they do further down the slopes of Haleakala.


What is wonderful about these upcountry gardens located on the slopes of Haleakala is they are a lot cooler than down by the coastline. They have more interesting landscapes with interesting rock formations, waterfalls and stunning borrowed views. A dormant volcano, Haleakala, is responsible for the creation of East Maui. The climate is dry and temperate, perfect for growing a wide variety of Mediterranean plants.

We visited the 8 acre Kula Botanical Garden at 3300 feet, the Ali`i Kula Lavender Farm at 4000 feet and The Tedeschi Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch at 2000 feet elevation. Walking paths were layered in flowers and exotic foliage at all three locations.

The winery had wine tasting and their unique wine was made with pineapple. I am not a wine drinker but tried one, but the rest of group tried many samples. The room where you get to taste their wines was used as a guest cottage for King Kalakaua when he came to the Ulupalakua Ranch back in 1874.

King Kalakaua was known as the “Merry Monarch” for his love of poker and fine champagne. He loved a good party too. The grounds are beautiful with rolling hills, hibiscus in bloom,  a carved statuary garden, and mature trees over 100 years old. It is home to Hawaii’s largest camphor tree. There are several old lava rock buildings on the property, dating back to the late 1800’s. See all these in the galleries above.

Jade-Vine Tree-trunkThe Lavender Farm at 4000 feet elevation has olive trees, hydrangea, Protea, and succulents, but it is known for their lavender experience on Maui.

They sell many things made with lavender. We had lavender/honey muffins with lavender herbed butter for lunch. It is home to approximately 55,000 lavender plants and 45 different varieties of lavender. Lavender is not native to Maui, but it acclimated to the Haleakala mountain slope. Thriving in Kula’s Mediterranean climate, the lavender blooms year round in the cool, dry climate. While we were there, very few plants on the 13.5 acre property were in bloom.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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36 Responses to Gardening at 4000 Feet on the Island of Maui

  1. Great post 🙂 Hawaii

  2. aussiebirder says:

    Beautiful gardens and some unusual flowers Donna, thanks for sharing!

  3. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks, Donna, for sharing these photos. One of the joys of blogging is learning what is growing abound the world that is so different from my back yard.

  4. What a wonderful looking place to visit, Donna. You are right… knowing what grows in your climate and at your altitude is essential to any gardener. Buying plants that have been grown locally and are therefore more likely to be suited to one’s locality is an excellent way to limit costly mistakes and is a more sustainable way to garden too. Beautiful photographs… I would never have expected Hawaii to have an abundance of lavender!

    • We have a nursery and a local grower I use for both clients and my own garden that grows every perennial from seed or cutting. Both also are more expensive per plant, but you are assured to get regionally grown plant material. They also have perennials and self-seeding annuals not common to the trade. Lavender is not native to Hawaii, yet the mountain conditions suit it well. I was also surprised to see fields of it.

  5. alesiablogs says:

    I am very interested in visiting the gardens
    of Hawaii. It is peaceful and you learn so much about plants not seen in other places.

  6. rogerbrook says:

    What a superb strongylodon (the jade vine). We saw magnificent ones on Madeira where the climate seems similar.

  7. swo8 says:

    Love the photos, Donna. You really do have to know the mini-climates and the soil conditions to have any measure of success with your garden.

    • Thank you. It takes experience for the most part. Many gardeners read about plants and it is a good starting place, yet it is best to see what grows in your area first. Many times, plants growing in a client’s garden only seven miles away will not grow in mine. The soil and drainage means everything to a plant’s success.

  8. Les says:

    That jade vine is something I wish I could grow, but that might necessitate a dramatic change in geography, or a greenhouse.

  9. Excellent post! Good to know there is much more to Hawaii than beaches! If I ever get there I am definitely visiting the Kula Botanical Garden and the lavender farm. But pineapple wine? Maybe not.

    • There is a lot about Hawaii that is interesting to gardeners. My post , Haleakalā Sustainability at 10,000 Feet – Caring For the Land talked about the sustainability and environmental beliefs of the original residents of the islands. You really must visit one day. It is quite an experience. Even though in a swim suit (just in case and ready for a dip) often on the island, I did not even touch the ocean once this trip. Walked the beaches, but no swimming. I did wade in the hotel pools though. I much prefer the waters in St. Lucia, warmer and calmer.

  10. Indie says:

    Wow, what a gorgeous tree trunk! I never thought about gardening on a slope like that in Hawaii. It is amazing how there are plants for nearly every place. I’ve been in the Mediterranean before, and it is impressive how many plants will grow on steep slopes and even cliffs, thanks to the mild climate.

    • I agree, plants for every location almost. I (and the bees) enjoy the Mediterranean plants, but in our wet-spring, clay soil location they don’t live here very easily. Only certain lavenders are hardy enough and will tolerate the clay soil to a degree. Munstead and similar varieties will reliably live in my garden. I had a hedge of it on each side of the stone walkway a few years back. It grew wonderfully, and I always had plants to give away. The mountain location is great for drainage and full sun. The lavender is very happy there.

  11. Your beautiful posts about Hawaii have moved a trip there a few notches higher on my bucket list. Thanks.

  12. We made it to the botanical garden, but not the other two places–more reasons to go back! I found Maui to be more beautiful than I could even imagine–almost too perfect (I know that doesn’t make sense, and I’m not sure how to explain it). Your words and beautiful images bring back pleasant memories of a very special place. Thank you.

  13. bittster says:

    Some cool places, the variety of things which grow up on the slopes is amazing and not what you think of when you’re down in the warmer lowlands. I’d love to go back some day.

    • I too was impressed by the variety. Growing on steep slopes is not an easy thing either. They have to be very cognizant of the terrain. I enjoyed going back two years in a row. I may be going to a different island next year with a friend. But that is a long way off…

  14. I love these pictures, especially the tall plants with the spiky orange tops. They almost look like birds ready to take off!

  15. What a wonderful vacation! I was amazed to see lavender growing there.

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