One of the biggest mistakes one can make when buying plants or seeds, is buying them for the wrong climate. Many plants require cool nights, or even a period of frost in order to thrive. These are not the ones to buy. Instead, reference the USDA map above to see what zones are appropriate for Hawaii growing. I’ve found that the lowest I can usually go is Zone 8. Our official hardiness zone map lists only zones 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b, and 13a. Keep in mind, these indexes are gauged to the lowest temperature a plant can tolerate. However, they are also a guide to the type of overall climate a plant wants to grow in.
When buying seeds, use growing zones as your guide. For instance, certain types of lettuce do well only in colder climates, while some are heat-tolerant. The word heat-tolerant is a secret code for “you might have a chance growing this in Hawaii.”
Another good guide is to look at climates similar to Hawaii, like Puerto Rico and warmer SE Asian countries. If it grows there, there’s a good chance it will grow here. Embrace the difference in our climate. You may not be able to grow broccoli, but you can grow basil year-round.