Soils of Hawai’i

Diverse, exotic, rich … surrounded by vast oceans of water; the islands sprang forth in volcanic birth. 

The Hawaiian Island stretch of mountain peaks is 350 miles long and is the most isolated Archipelago in the world. Each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own unique history and characteristics. They were created from the eruptions of a single fixed magmatic hot spot, which is currently under the southeast portion of the Big Island of Hawaii. The islands formed as the tectonic Pacific Plate moved over the hot spot. Over the last 6 million years it has resulted in 82 volcanoes that form the Hawaiian Ridge.

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Volcanic birth, surrounded by ocean, warm moist temperatures, dry coastlines and frequent mountain rains give Hawai’i’s soils tremendous diversity and their own particular needs. From the youngest island to the oldest, the soils vary depending on the factors that contributed to their formation: time, parent material, climate, living organisms, and topography. In the general classification of soils there are twelve main types that comprise all of the soils found on earth. In the Hawaiian Islands ten of those twelve are represented.

Kauai, as the oldest of the islands, has soils very different from those on the island of Hawai’i since it has been exposed to weathering for a much longer time. Its conditions are ripe for creating weathered acidic soils, which allow important macronutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium to be leached from the soils, leaving behind iron and aluminum. Man’s use of synthetic fertilizers such as urea, anhydrous ammonia and ammonia sulphate further acidify these soils through biological reactions.

Crop growth is adversely affected in these acidic soils. Aluminum is more soluble in acidic conditions and can create aluminum toxicity. However, Hawaiian soils are more often calcium deficient than aluminum toxic, and this is most prevalent in Kauai, the oldest of the islands. Phosphorus deficiency is also common as it easily bound up by the available iron and aluminum.

Kauai’s soils are both chronologically and genetically old as a result of the warm, humid conditions. The volcanic rock, already low in silicon (needed in plants for strength, resilience and pest resistance), is stripped of this element through the leaching action of rainwater. What remains is the insoluble residue of iron and aluminum oxide. As a matter of fact, Kauai is so rich in iron and aluminum oxide, several aluminum companies looked into the feasibility of mining the soils for aluminum ore.

These infertile conditions, however, can be remedied through effective land management, using organic products and methodology to enrichen soil fertility, raise the pH, enliven the soil and make nutrients plant available. With years of hands-on experience in Hawai’i, we can improve your soils organically and provide outstanding results in plant vitality and production.

You can find our products at the following locations on the ISLAND OF KAUAI:

Garden Island Hydro

1662 Haleukana St #1, Lihue, HI 96766 808-246-GROW (4769)


Kauai Seascapes Nursery, Inc.

4741 Kahiliholo Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754 (808) 828-0444


Green Solutions

Gary Seals, 2671 Kauapea Road Kilauea, HI 96754 808-651-7732


Island Ace Hardware

Princeville Shopping Center, 5-4280 Kuhio Hwy Princeville, HI 96722 808-826-6980


Kilauea Paint & Feed Store

2488 Kolo Rd Kilauea, HI 96754 (808) 828-6655

For information on bulk or wholesale purchasing, call Hendrikus at

Hendrikus Organics 

206-718-1167 (cell)

808-828-0099 (ofc)