The NPDC is a statewide extension program to develop and promote Hawaii’s potential as producer of high-value new ornamentals and to create a global presence for its products. Its role and function is similar to other successful collaborations between academic institutions and industry in the US.

To be competitive in global markets Hawaii must capitalize on its variety of original new plants, become one of the centers of new plant distribution, and capture profits of market introduction in large scale.

Based on UH Manoa and utilizing current lab infrastructure, the NPDC aims to revitalize Hawaii’s nursery industry by developing technology that would reduce production costs, and to develop new international markets for Hawaii's high-value ornamentals.

The NPDC works in collaboration with the nursery industry by producing initial tissue cultured mother stock of new plants, supplying them to the growers who are then responsible to scale them to commercial numbers in a tissue culture lab of their choice, and assist them in developing new global markets to benefit local growers and the state's economy.

Industry Development Approach

The NPDC attempts to stimulate the development of missing key strategic roles in the global ornamental market supply chain of Hawaii:

In general, the release of new plants through the NPDC involves:



An ad hoc panel with expertise in each ornamental group of plants will consider market desirability and crop cultivation aspects in selecting new plants to be placed on a waiting list for development.

New plants for the NPDC will likely come from two sources:


Subcontract - Plants that are relatively easier to clone with repeatable published tissue culture protocols available will be subcontracted directly to available labs.

Research - Recalcitrant plants, which by definition are difficult to clone and have resource intensive and/or inefficient protocols. A protocol development program will be funded by competitive research grants or other sources. Protocol development for each new plant may take 1 to 3 years.

Technology transfer may occur at different stages of protocol development. Initial research findings will be made available via publications in refereed journals, extension publications, and website. Protocols will continue to be optimized for synchronization of cultures and faster technologies. Opportunities will be made available for transfer of technology via workshops when the protocols are sufficiently developed.


The initiation of 1,000 cultures of mother stock will require the collaboration of available tissue culture labs within the university system as well as commercial labs.

An International Tissue Culture Network coordinated by CTAHR is in development to provide micropropagation services to Hawaii's growers from initiation of cultures to mass scale propagation and delivery of plugs or tissue culture plantlets. Included in this network are local, national, and international labs.


Cuttings or tissue cultured clones of new plants are being released to members of grower associations for evaluation of growth rates, morphology, and market acceptance. Individual growers may use the aseptic cultures of clones for mass propagation by sending them to their preferred commercial tissue culture lab.

The first group of plants released through NPDC are Dracaenas that were collected by our previous extension specialist, John Griffis.

Dracaenas waiting for release

These 5 varieties are in the process of cloning via cuttings by Andrew Kawabata at Komohana experimental greenhouse in Hilo.

Dracaena Ruth Luka release

So far, only about 70 cuttings of D. ‘Ruth Luka’ have been released to HENA growers for market evaluation. To expedite the process, cloning of these 5 varieties has been subcontracted to C&T lab in the Big Island.

The lab has set a delivery schedule of 5,000 plants which are being released to Hawaii's grower associations during 2011. Growers who receive these aseptic tissue culture plants can send them to other commercial tissue culture labs for further cloning as a way to scale their numbers to their desired commercial needs.


Local distribution of new plants through the NPDC will occur in collaboration with extension agents in the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu.

National Markets
Collaborations with nursery industry extension programs in universities in the mainland will facilitate the opening of markets for Hawaii's new plants.

Global Markets

China 2009 - Slide Show

I selected the provinces of Guanzhao and Kunming in China as the first country to promote NPDC for two reasons:

During the first trip, Nov 28 to Dec 15, 2009, we visited a total of 16 growers in addition to a plant show. The trip opened our eyes to the tremendous progress in ornamental business in the two provinces we visited. We realized after the trip the need to create one-of-a-kind ornamental plants, to mass produce it and gain market share by releasing first into the global markets. The focus has become the creation or development of new “cool” plants.

China Trade Mission 2010 - Slide Show

The second China trip, from Oct 28 to Nov 15, 2010 was an agricultural trade mission for the state of Hawaii. I was invited because of my knowledge and experience with the Chinese growers and their ornamental industry. The trip mission was, 

The general response of 8 visited nursery growers during this second trip was positive, expressing clear interest in 2 Hawaii ornamentals. The successful reception of these plants has increased the need to evaluate tissue culture lab options to mass produce these plants in the next couple of years.