Tropical Flowers Deliver Joy

John and Theresa Gordines at their farm in Kapahi. Daniel Lane photos

Tropical Flowers Express is a 2-acre farm located in upper Kapahi. It grows, sells and ships Hawaiian tropical flowers on island, and across the United States via farmers markets and an online store. They also service local flower shops here on Kaua’i, and have contracts with numerous hotels.

John is the president of the Hawaii Tropical Flowers and Foliage Association, and is on the board of directors for the statewide Floriculture and Nursery Association, Hawaii Florist and Shippers Association, the Hawaii Tropical Flowers Council, and Kaua’i County Farm Bureau. He sits on the mayor’s agricultural advisory committee and works full time for the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture.

Some of what they grow: Nineteen varieties of heliconia, 10 varieties of ginger, protea, parrot (similar to bird of paradise), three varieties of costus, four varieties of calathea, anthuriums and a variety of foliage.

Tied bouquets and mixed flowers cost $7 at the market


The genus protea was named in 1735 after the Greek god, Proteus, who could change his form at will. This family of flowers offers diversity in form, size, color and especially texture. Many of the species were discovered in the 1600s by botanists at Cape of Good Hope and were introduced to Europe in the 1700s. Collectors were probably responsible for introducing proteas to the Hawaiian Islands. There are more than 1,400 varieties worldwide.

Storage: Proteas are excellent keepers, and John says their flowers will last two weeks or longer. They also dry beautifully in the arrangement, or can be hung upside down in a dark place for best results.

Tips: Unpack flowers immediately upon receipt of shipment. The flowers need air they discolor if kept wrapped or packed for too long.

Ordering directly from the farmers ensures peak freshness. Daniel Lane photos

Place the stems in clean vase with fresh water. John says his flowers do not require a floral preservative. Remove all leaves that might be underwater, and recut stems after three to four days. Recut stems cleanly, do not mash them. Proteas take up a great deal of water, so make sure the vase is kept full.

Premature leaf discoloration occurs when stored too long without natural light, kept too cold, or too long in transit. Remove affected leaves immediately, and keep flowers away from heat source and cold drafts.

Christmas Specials: This Christmas season send a Poipu arrangement which contains 16 two-foot stems to a loved one and get a free box of Kaua’i Kookies for every order placed online.

A colorful assortment

Health benefits: The Emotional Impact of Flowers Study conducted in 2005 found that the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.

Study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction. “Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room,” says Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and the director of its Human Emotions Lab. “They make the space more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere.”

Making a bouquet

Flowers from Tropical Flowers Express can be found at: Farmers Markets: Culinary Market at Kukui’ula Shopping Village in Koloa (Wednesdays at 4 p.m.) and Kaua’i Community College (Saturdays at 10 a.m.). For more information, call 1800-453-6416. You can’t leave a message because they don’t have an answering machine. Place orders on their secure website at Prices include shipping. Gift boxes can be shipped anywhere in the United States within two business days.