Plumeria


 

Plumeria cutting needs to be soaked in water until roots shoot, then plant. Once roots are growing plant in a one gallon pot with three layers of planting medium. The bottom layer should be a fast draining planting mix rich in organic material. The middle layer should be perlite or sand. The top layer should be the same as the bottom layer. Everyone seems to use a different planting mix formulation, but the essentials are high organic content, fast drainage, and moisture retention. Fill the pot 2/3 full with the planting mix (the bottom layer), make a fist sized indentation and fill it with perlite or sand (the middle layer). Insert the cut end of the plumeria into the perlite/sand. Top off with more planting mix till the pot is nearly full (the top layer). During the root development process water usage will be minimal. However, the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out. Approximately one cup (350 ml) of water should be added weekly until the plant has established a root system. Excellent results can be achieved by placing the container in full sun on a concrete surface. Plumeria will generally be established in 45 to 75 days after planting.

Plumeria Care, Subtropical

Plumerias can be grown in containers, in the ground, or containers sunk in the ground. During the months of active growth, ample sun, food, and water are essential. Healthy plumeria will grow vigorously and bloom regularly and profusely when they receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day and an ample amount of the proper fertilizers. Plumeria love lots of water, but can't tolerate wet feet, so they must be planted in highly organic fast draining soil or in beds with adequate drainage. Clay, gumbo, and silt are examples of poor draining soils; avoid these at all costs.

The way you care for your plumeria depends on the season of the year. Bring your plants out of storage in the spring, watch them grow and bloom in the summer, prepare for dormancy and storage in the fall, and store them for the winter.

In the Spring,

When the nighttime temperatures begin to usually remain above 50°F, plumeria can be brought out of winter storage and encouraged out of dormancy. Due to conditions of storage, some root loss and desiccation of branches is expected, this is no cause for alarm. This is the time to feed, water, top dress, and/or repot. Since the plant is dormant, it will be minimally disturbed by repotting and root pruning as necessary.

Repotting and root pruning are optional and are performed as with any other container grown plant. Top dress by scraping off the loose soil and dead roots from the first couple centimeters of soil. Replace the removed soil with a mixture of compost and/or well composed cow manure.

Feed and water thoroughly using a fertilizer such as Super Bloom or Carl Pool's BR-61. If desired, there are specialty plumeria foods that can be used.

Place the plant in a warm and sunny location. Some people like to sink the container into the ground, but be sure it is in a raised and well drained area such as a rose bed. This promotes more vigorous growth, provides support, and prevents it from blowing over. Plumeria tips are fragile and easily snapped off when the plant blows over.

In the Summer

For plumerias, summer has arrived once a lush growth of leaves has developed. Many will bloom before developing leaves, others will not. Once the leaf growth has developed, the summer regimen of care can be followed.

As mentioned before plumeria are heavy feeders. However, in order to discourage excessive stem elongation and to promote flowering, fertilizers low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous are, once again, recommended. Super Bloom or Carl Pool's BR-61 are excellent choices. Keep a plumeria healthy by feeding once or twice a month, and watering as necessary. The recommended foods can be sprinkled directly on the soil and then watered in. Consider using two tablespoons per five gallon pot per month.

During exceptionally hot periods, plants in above ground containers may need thorough watering as often as every other day. Drooping leaves can indicate a thirsty plant. As with all plants, check the soil before watering, if its dry for the first several centimeters, water thoroughly. Certain varieties of plumeria find Texas heat excessive for nominal blossom production. If this appears to be a problem, move the plant into a "shifting shade" location for better flower production and keeping quality.

As the days begin to grow shorter during August and September, some lower leaf yellowing and drop is normal. Some varieties will attempt a fall bloom cycle, if you are lucky and the weather cooperates, plumeria can still be blooming into November and December! But watch out, an early frost can damage or kill the plant.

In the Fall

For plumeria, fall begins once the nighttime temperature frequently begins to drop below 55°F. Studies have concluded that plumeria stop growing when the average ambient temperature drops below 65°F. Stop feeding and reduce water to encourage the plant to go into its natural dormant period.

Some growers think that feeding after mid August may contribute to the black tip fungus problem, however this has not been proven. It is difficult to predict the weather and therefore it's difficult to give a date by which your plumeria should be safely stored for the winter. By all means, if temperatures are expected to fall into the lower 30°sF, the plants should be protected. Most varieties can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 30°sF for even a few hours.

For the Winter

During the winter plumeria require very little care. In fact winter care could be considered winter storage.

Before storage, the plumeria should be defoliated. The best way to do this is to cut each and every leaf off the plant at a point about 2 cm from the stem. If you don't defoliate, the leaves will yellow and fall off during storage providing a good environment for pests and fungus (as well as make a mess).

Store the plumeria in a cool to warm, dry, and ventilated area such as a garage, storage shed, or your living room. Temperatures should not be allowed to fall below freezing in the storage area. During exceptionally cold periods, for example below 25°F outside, a small supplemental heater may be required for plants stored in unheated sheds. A cool greenhouse is not recommended for plumeria storage because it will tend to be too damp and thus promote black tip fungus and other fungus problems.

Some people suggest not watering plumeria at all for the entire winter, but probably a small monthly drink does more good than harm, especially if the branches are getting desiccated and the plant is in a warm dry location.

Since a defoliated plumeria takes up considerably less space than one in full leaf, they can frequently be stacked two and three high in the storage area.

Plumeria Propagation from a Cutting

When to Cut

Plumeria can be propagated by cuttings anytime of the year, but most successfully and easily when the cuttings are taken during late winter while the plant is dormant. You can store the cuttings for months before planting. In any event there must be sufficient warm weather remaining to allow the cutting to establish a healthy root system outdoors. In Texas, May through July would be the most ideal time to start plumeria from cuttings outdoors.

What to Cut

Select a tip or branch from a healthy plumeria. The cut should be made in mature wood, not green, but having a grayish sheen to it. It should be at least 25 cm long, but avoid cuttings much longer than 50 cm unless they have multiple forks or branches since the cutting will probably grow another 30 cm before blooming and branching, and would become unacceptably tall in short order. Generally, a cutting with two or more branch points will establish itself faster and take longer to attain objectional height.

How to Cut

Using a very sharp knife, clippers, or large tooth pruning saw; cut the specimen from the donor plant. The cut should be diagonal (IE made at a 45° angle on the branch being cut) and clean, without damaging the branch tissues on either the donor or cutting. The cut branch on the donor plant should not provide a place for water to collect. The diagonal surface on the cutting provides additional space for root callus to form.

If the cutting has leaves, they should be cut off immediately. Excess sap loss is avoided if they are cut off at a point about 2 cm from the branch. The remaining stub will yellow and fall off in a couple of days. If the cutting has inflorescence or fruit, it may optionally be retained. The fruit will usually ripen allowing the seeds to be harvested later.

Allow the cut end to seal off for at least two weeks in a warm, dry, and well ventilated area. If the cutting was taken in late winter, you can wait as late as April or May (or longer) to plant.

How to Plant

Before planting the cutting, dip the cut end in water, root stimulator or concentrated Superthrive, then into a rooting powder that contains a fungicide such as Rootone. Only about 2 cm of the cut end should be so treated because roots will only develop along the circumference of the cut end.

Select a container appropriately sized for the cutting. Use a one gallon pot (about 4 l.)for cuttings without a branch point, but a two gallon pot (about 7 l.) for cuttings with one or more branch points. Of course, very large cuttings will require a larger container for stability.

The planting medium has three layers: The bottom layer should be a fast draining planting mix rich in organic material. The middle layer should be perlite or sand. The top layer should be the same as the bottom layer. Everyone seems to use a different planting mix formulation, but the essentials are high organic content, fast drainage, and moisture retention.

Fill the pot 2/3 full with the planting mix (the bottom layer), make a fist sized indentation and fill it with perlite or sand (the middle layer). Insert the cut end of the plumeria into the perlite/sand. Top off with more planting mix till the pot is nearly full (the top layer). The additional mix can be packed in to provide support, but supplemental support or staking is recommended. During the early root growing process it is very important that the cutting be stable. The initial roots are quite fragile and easily broken if the cutting is wobbling about in the pot.

Root Development

During the root development process water usage will be minimal. However, the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out. Approximately one cup (350 ml) of water should be added weekly until the plant has established a root system. Fortunately, frequent tropical downpours do not seem to cause any problem during the rooting process. Generally, a lush healthy growth of leaves will indicate an equally healthy root system. The entire rooting process should be performed in a somewhat dry, warm to hot, and full sun environment. Excellent results can be achieved by placing the container in full sun on a concrete surface. The heat absorbed and radiated by the concrete stimulate root growth.

Plumeria will generally be established in 45 to 75 days after planting. However, the new root system is very fragile. Avoid lifting the plant by the trunk, instead pick it up by the pot. Attempt to keep the plant as stable in the pot as possible.

When it blooms

Plumeria may bloom during the rooting process, however, the bloom does not indicate an established root system. The flower may or may not be representative of future flowers. Some people cut off the inflorescence so the plant devotes more energy to root development. Remember, healthy leaves indicate healthy roots, flowers do not.

Winter Storage

The healthy established plumeria cutting can be stored for the winter as any other plumeria.

Growing Plumeria

Plumerias are hardy and beautiful tropicals. Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, or as the Hawaiian lei flower, is an exotic tropical that is easy to grow in the Houston area. It can be maintained as a shrub or small tree grown in a container on the patio or in the garden. Here are some growing tips provided by Barbara Randolph of the Plumeria Society of America.
 

If you find plumeria to be too cumbersome to store or safely maintain over winter due to their relatively large size,  try any of the three dwarf cultivars of plumeria that are in cultivation including Dwarf Sinapore Pink, Dwarf Singpore White, which we are growing with much success.  They are so small, they can be overwintered in our small greenhouse without growth disruption.  Pictured below is the Dwarf Sinapore Pink in full bloom as an 8" potted plant!  Due to their relatively slow growth,  the dwarf cultivars generally are fairly expensive.

 

Q&A: Plumeria

Q: We live in San Francisco and planted a plumeria this spring. Will it survive our winter?

A: Maybe, especially since El Nino is creating topsy-turvy weather patterns throughout the country. Plumerias are hardy to around 35 degrees or so, although mine, which are forced to grow in a pot and overwinter indoors, suffer some leaf damage when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

Assuming your plumeria is planted in the ground, and assuming it is under five or six feet tall, you can protect it from cold snaps by covering it with a blanket supported by a few sticks or bamboo stakes. If it is a full-sized specimen, wrap the blanket around the plant and loosely tie the blanket with twine.

 

Plumeria Propagation from a Cutting


When to Cut

Plumeria can be propagated by cuttings anytime of the year, but most successfully and easily when the cuttings are taken during late winter while the plant is dormant. You can store the cuttings for months before planting. In any event there must be sufficient warm weather remaining to allow the cutting to establish a healthy root system outdoors. In Texas, May through July would be the most ideal time to start plumeria from cuttings outdoors.

What to Cut

Select a tip or branch from a healthy plumeria. The cut should be made in mature wood, not green, but having a grayish sheen to it. It should be at least 25 cm long, but avoid cuttings much longer than 50 cm unless they have multiple forks or branches since the cutting will probably grow another 30 cm before blooming and branching, and would become unacceptably tall in short order. Generally, a cutting with two or more branch points will establish itself faster and take longer to attain objectional height.

How to Cut

Using a very sharp knife, clippers, or large tooth pruning saw; cut the specimen from the donor plant. The cut should be diagonal (IE made at a 45 angle on the branch being cut) and clean, without damaging the branch tissues on either the donor or cutting. The cut branch on the donor plant should not provide a place for water to collect. The diagonal surface on the cutting provides additional space for root callus to form.

If the cutting has leaves, they should be cut off immediately. Excess sap loss is avoided if they are cut off at a point about 2 cm from the branch. The remaining stub will yellow and fall off in a couple of days. If the cutting has inflorescence or fruit, it may optionally be retained. The fruit will usually ripen allowing the seeds to be harvested later.

Allow the cut end to seal off for at least two weeks in a warm, dry, and well ventilated area. If the cutting was taken in late winter, you can wait as late as April or May (or longer) to plant.

How to Plant

Before planting the cutting, dip the cut end in water, root stimulator or concentrated Superthrive, then into a rooting powder that contains a fungicide such as Rootone. Only about 2 cm of the cut end should be so treated because roots will only develop along the circumference of the cut end.

Select a container appropriately sized for the cutting. Use a one gallon pot (about 4 l.)for cuttings without a branch point, but a two gallon pot (about 7 l.) for cuttings with one or more branch points. Of course, very large cuttings will require a larger container for stability.

The planting medium has three layers: The bottom layer should be a fast draining planting mix rich in organic material. The middle layer should be perlite or sand. The top layer should be the same as the bottom layer. Everyone seems to use a different planting mix formulation, but the essentials are high organic content, fast drainage, and moisture retention.

Fill the pot 2/3 full with the planting mix (the bottom layer), make a fist sized indentation and fill it with perlite or sand (the middle layer). Insert the cut end of the plumeria into the perlite/sand. Top off with more planting mix till the pot is nearly full (the top layer). The additional mix can be packed in to provide support, but supplemental support or staking is recommended. During the early root growing process it is very important that the cutting be stable. The initial roots are quite fragile and easily broken if the cutting is wobbling about in the pot.

Root Development

During the root development process water usage will be minimal. However, the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out. Approximately one cup (350 ml) of water should be added weekly until the plant has established a root system. Fortunately, frequent tropical downpours do not seem to cause any problem during the rooting process. Generally, a lush healthy growth of leaves will indicate an equally healthy root system. The entire rooting process should be performed in a somewhat dry, warm to hot, and full sun environment. Excellent results can be achieved by placing the container in full sun on a concrete surface. The heat absorbed and radiated by the concrete stimulate root growth.

Plumeria will generally be established in 45 to 75 days after planting. However, the new root system is very fragile. Avoid lifting the plant by the trunk, instead pick it up by the pot. Attempt to keep the plant as stable in the pot as possible.

When it blooms

Plumeria may bloom during the rooting process, however, the bloom does not indicate an established root system. The flower may or may not be representative of future flowers. Some people cut off the inflorescence so the plant devotes more energy to root development. Remember, healthy leaves indicate healthy roots, flowers do not.

Winter Storage

The healthy established plumeria cutting can be stored for the winter as any other plumeria.