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How To Make a Hawaiian Ti Leaf Lei

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Do you want to learn how to make a Hawaiian lei? We will show you easy steps how to make a Hawaiian ti leaf lei by yourself. There are so many kind of Hawaiian Leis. Some are Flower Leis, Leaf Leis, Kukui leis, or Shell leis. But one of the most popular lei is the ti leaf lei. It is often use for the men. Especially Groom and Groomsmen often wear ti leaf lei. Also it is one of the most popular Graduation leis too.

Ti Leaf Lei Tradition

Little about ti leaf traditional Hawaiian culture, Ti Leaves are considered to be sacred to Lono, the Hawaiian God of fertility and Laka, the Goddess of Hula. The leaves are also used by Kahuna priests to ward off evil and bring in good spirits.

Ti Leaf Lei has been traditionally given to someone to wear draped over their shoulders offering the same protection, healing, good luck and to ward off evil.

Credit Youtube : Mahalo Malika Dudley

Supplies needed:

Ti Leaf - 5 ti leaves will make 1 single strand lei

String - thin cotton cord or vinyl


ti leaves
Credit image :

Prepare Ti Leaf

1. Find Ti Leaf

Find Ti Leaf, we recommend first asking your family or friends or even a neighbor who may have Ti Leaf growing in their yard. This is a hard plant to buy as not many places sell Ti Leaf.

2. De-boning the Ti Leaf

The first step in preparation that we recommend is to take the long stem or spine out of the leaf. This is referred to as De-boning the Ti Leaf. There are a number of ways to accomplish this with the easiest being to take a sharp scissors and starting from the smallest part of the stem near the top of the Ti Leaf cut downwards along the spine on both sides. Cut all the way to the bottom thickest part of the stem. You may fold the ti leaf in half in order to cut both sides at the same time. The result should leave you with 2 equal pieces of the Ti Leaf and a separate spine. More advanced techniques to De-Bone the leaf include using a knife starting at the top then filleting it all the way down in a smooth motion. Lastly, some old timers even bite the top section with their teeth and then pull out the top part of the stem and with skilled hands peel the spine away to separate it from the leaves.

Making ti leaf lei
credit image :

3. Soften the ti leaf

Your Ti Leaf must first be softened. You can do this a few different ways. The most popular way is to boil them in a big pot of water for just 1 minute. Or microwave them one by one. Or others have used an iron to iron them on an ironing board. A preferred way by some is to freeze them overnight then the next day thaw them out and dry them off and they’ll be perfectly softened this way. Choose your best method depending on your time available and or what you feel comfortable with.

Instructions : How to make the ti leaf lei

1. Now you should have two halves of the Ti Leaf that are nice and soft De-Boned and ready to go. You want to begin by twisting the end of each half into a small cord-like shape and tie a normal square knot with them. Make sure this knot is tight.

Making ti leaf lei
Credit : Malika Dudley

2. Once you’ve tied and secured your knot begin to twist one leaf into a tight spiral-like cord. Make sure to keep it tight and with no slack. As an example if you are right handed you would take the strand that is on the right side and twist it in a clockwise direction a few twists. Then you would pass this strand under and towards the left of the other strand. Grab the other strand now in your right hand and begin twisting again in the same pattern. After a few twist you repeat rotating or twisting the two strands over each other until you reach near the end of the leaf about three inches of leaf remaining.

Hawaiian lei making
Credit : Malika Dudley

3. Now you will need a new leaf to intertwine and elongate your original leaf. Take your new leaf and begin to do the same twisting action but instead twist the new leaf into the remaining three inches of the last leaf. Make sure to leave some of the new leaf hanging out which will give it more strength when intertwined and also create the classic Ti Leaf Lei look.

4. Once your Ti Leaf Lei is at your desired length you are ready to finish your lei. The traditional Ti Leaf Lei is an open ended lei and is not closed or tied off and just drapes over a person's shoulders hanging down straight on both sides. In traditional Hawaiian culture it is appropriate to give a pregnant woman an open ended lei and not closed. However if you wish to close your lei you can do so by finding the ends and tying them together. This is an excellent time to find any areas that may be browning or not symmetrical and cut or clean them up.

To add more flare, You can wrap an orchid strand around your Ti Leaf Lei for a more full lei.

Learn more : How to care for lei


You are now finished or all pau as we say in Hawaiian. Making your own Ti Leaf Lei doesn’t take too long once you have your materials and have prepared everything properly. This lei does take some practice to perfect but even your first lei will look amazing! Keep in mind that your Ti Leaf lei will get sticky, since as you twist the leaf its juices will excrete out. Do not worry about this, as you can easily clean your hands and the lei by wiping with a damp cloth or towel. Now have fun and hang your Ti Leaf Lei proudly!

Should you not have enough time to make your own Ti Leaf Lei here's a link to site with great Hawaiian Lei and Ti Leaf Lei options! You can purchase and have it shipped cold and fresh to your door. They also provide many additional Hawaiian style Lei options.

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