Today Maui Floral is the largest protea farm in Hawaii, and one of the oldest, established over 45 years ago. Located at the 3200ft elevation on the slopes of Mount Haleakala, Maureen and Carver Wilson grow a curated collection of Hawaii’s best proteas on 50 acres. The proteas are harvested five days a week and then packed in gift boxes or made into bouquets and arrangements, often with other stunning Hawaii Tropicals, and shipped to consumers around the globe. Maui Floral also produces and markets the hand-sewn iconic Hawaiian flower Lei.
Maui Floral has deep roots in the island’s Protea story ...
The Maui Floral company, originally called Maui Sunburst, was incorporated in December 1974 by Carver Willson and a small group of family & friends. In 1975 the Maui Floral farm was among the early pioneers to plant protea in the mineral-rich volcanic soil of Mount Haleakala’s uplands. Around that same time the University of Hawaii, Department of Agriculture identified the pincushions grown in Hawaii as having an extended season (November-April). This gave Hawaii a competitive advantage for the pincushion protea, making the pins a particularly good crop for local farmers to market. In the mid-’70s a Protea Cooperative was formed between 5 of Hawaii’s original protea farms, Maui Floral among them, to focus on marketing Hawaii’s protea to the world.
In 1978 Maui Floral’s first protea were harvested. So we began to combine Hawaii’s stunning tropical flowers, like ginger & heliconia with the protea newcomer, creating uniquely bold and beautiful floral displays. The newly opened Kapalua Bay Hotel was the first place to display these wonderful arrangements. The hotel’s discerning guests spread the word about Maui Floral’s vibrant floral creations and brought them home. Those initial connections with Maui’s island visitors endured and expanded to showcase the “Maui Floral look” in homes and business settings across the U.S. mainland.
Anecdote: Chef Ming Tsai displayed Maui Floral’s pincushions on the table of his Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Massachusetts for many years. Similarly, The Cafe Budapest, an iconic Boston, MA restaurant, also displayed Maui Floral’s bouquets prominently throughout the restaurant for many many years.
Throughout the 80’s Maui Floral also exported protea to Europe and beyond via flower importers such as the OZ Group of The Netherlands. In the mid 80’s the University of Hawaii, Department of AG began to hybridize the pincushion protea to improve color, and other qualities like longer, lighter stems with more durability overall. In the late 80’s as island protea farms increased in number and direct flights from Maui to the mainland were introduced, competition to market these stellar flowers was robust.
Anecdote: Now there are 270 protea hybrids, with hybrids 20-24 being the best
In the 1990’s as Maui developed more retail outlets Maui Floral became involved in importing spring flowers and roses to meet the local market demand. That effort continues to this day. Maui Floral also has a long-standing association with Costco for all of their customers’ flower needs, and provides a variety of arrangements and bouquets for Costco’s Kahului store. Export of Maui Floral’s protea and tropicals into the European market continued and expanded in the 1990’s .
Maui Floral continued to evolve its products and import / export methods for an impressive variety of protea as well as all types of Hawaiian tropical flowers & foliage throughout the next decade. During that time the national floral business grew as did Maui Floral capabilities. Moving to a larger packing operation, and increasing protea production by doubling the farm's acreage all helped to solidify Maui Floral’s rank among Hawaii’s leading floral farms. In 2015 Maui Floral again expanded, this time into the hand-sewn Lei market by purchasing an existing Lei making business. The iconic Hawaiian Lei business further roots Maui Floral, this time in the Hawaiian culture and hearts of Hawaii locals.
Though Maui Floral has encountered a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic we look forward to a time when the Hawaii flower industry will thrive once again.
We continue to be grateful for our home ~ Maui ~ and for our loyal customers… we would not be here without you. Thank you, very much for your continued support.