Ko‘oloa ‘ula in Hawaiian Culture: I’ve been unable to find any records of pre-contact Hawaiians using ko‘oloa ‘ula. However, I suspect they used it for lei, and, perhaps for medicine (similar to the use of ‘ilima) or cordage (similar to the use of koki‘o and hau).
Collecting Seeds: Collect mature fruits when they are completely dry and light brown. Each fruit will usually hold 1-3 kidney-shaped seeds in each chamber of the fruit. I normally shake these out or use a pair of forceps. Seed-borers and fungi sometime destroy the seeds so keep only seeds without obvious holes that do not collapse from the pressure between your fingers.
Growing from Seed: Following hot water scarification, ko‘oloa ‘ula seeds begin sprouting in about a week using Method Two. Seeds will continue to germinate for another month or so. Seedlings are susceptible to damping-off and rot if they are watered too frequently. Spider mites can also be a problem. See Enemies in the Garden for treatments. Plant out your ko‘oloa ‘ula when they are 8-12 inches tall.
Growing from Cuttings: Growing ko‘oloa ‘ula from cuttings is smart when you want a hedge or grouping of them to all flower at the same time with the same flower color. Using either Method One or Two, the cuttings will root in 2-4 months.
Growth in the Garden: Ko‘oloa ‘ula grow quickly, easily maturing in a year with a little care. Remember this is a dry shrubland/forest species so do not overwater. In fact, watering them at all after 1-2 months in the garden normally isn’t necessary. While I normally don’t, you can lightly and gradually prune your ko‘oloa ‘ula if you wish to shape the shrub. I haven’t been growing ko‘oloa ‘ula for long (my oldest plant is only six years old but it’s still very healthy), so, I suspect this plant has a moderate lifespan of ten to twenty years.
Diseases & Pests: While seldom fatal to the plant, Chinese rose beetles eating the leaves and making the shrub unsightly is often the reason people get rid of their ko‘oloa ‘ula. Spider mites and mealybugs can also be a problem. Refer to Enemies in the Garden for ways to combat these pests. Scot Nelson (UH Cooperative Extension Service) has noted a rust on ko‘oloa ‘ula caused by the fungus, Puccinia heterospora. Please refer to this link (http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-31.pdf) for more information.
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū