Plumeria (Frangipani): Information and Tips for Plumeria Care
Plumeria are trees that produce the beautiful Hawaiian Lei flowers. There are thousands of different colors of Plumeria flowers and they have a wide variety of different scents. The flower petals also range anywhere from 2 inches across to 6 inches across. When the Plumeria starts its flower production it will begin what is called an Inflorescence or “Inflo” normally out of the top of each branch. When the “Inflo” starts it will look like a small head of broccoli emerging from the center of the branch. As the “Inflo” gets larger it will develop individual flower buds and eventually turn into a full bouquet of beautiful flowers. After the inflo stops blooming it will eventually fall off or start a seed pod and your Plumeria will start new branches from the point where the inflo developed. Normally the Plumeria will produce 2-4 new branches from the point where the inflo started. The cycles continues until eventually you have a tree full of branches and flowers. The leaves on the Plumeria can grow over 12 inches long as the plant matures. A Plumeria tree can grow larger than 30 feet tall in very tropical areas but in areas that have cold winter months most Plumeria trees take 3-5 years or longer to grow over 7 feet tall, depending on the variety.
If you break off a Plumeria leaf then you will notice a white milky substance. This white milky substance is very sticky and can make animals sick if they ingest the milky substance. Most animals do not bother Plumeria because of the smell and taste of the milky substance but if you have a small puppy it’s always better to be cautious and make sure your puppy does not ingest the leaves or stems of a Plumeria. If your pet does ingest part of your Plumeria it may make them sick but it should be minor, depending on how much the pet ingested. Please consult your veterinarian if you feel worried about your animal’s symptoms.
Summer care for your Plumeria
Normally around the end of March or beginning of April you should bring your Plumeria outside depending on where you live. We recommend putting your Plumeria in a shaded area for a few weeks so it has time to acclimate before moving your Plumeria in direct sunlight. To wake up your Plumeria give it a good watering one time and then do not water again until you see leaves 3-4 inches long developing. Plumeria normally do not like to be watered every day. In most areas you may only have to water your Plumeria once or twice a week. If you notice that it hasn’t rained in 4-5 days and the weather forecast isn’t calling for rain in your area then go ahead and water your Plumeria. It is very important not to water your Plumeria on a daily basis. Plumeria love a good watering but they also like their root systems to dry out between watering periods. If it rains for a few days in a row then don’t worry, your Plumeria loves natural rain water, just make sure your container pot has plenty of drain holes on the bottom to allow the water to drain through the soil. If you plant your Plumeria in a container try to use a fast draining soil with a lot of bark and perlite or you can use a cactus mix.
Winterizing your Plumeria
Plumeria are tropical so if the weather gets below 50 degrees you need to bring your Plumeria inside for the winter months. Once you bring your Plumeria inside for the winter you need to remove all the leaves off the plant unless you have an indoor greenhouse. You can easily do this by bending the leaves downward until they snap off or you can simply cut each leaf off your Plumeria. Once you have removed all the leaves your Plumeria can be put away for the remainder of the winter for storage. Your Plumeria will NOT need water during the winter months. You just need to store your Plumeria in a place where the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees. Check your Plumeria often throughout the winter months for bugs or signs of rotting. You can also dry store your Plumeria for the winter month by removing the Plumeria from the container and spraying off all the soil so you are just left with the roots. If you dry store your Plumeria just make sure you dry the roots well before storing it during the winter months.
Fertilizing your Plumeria
When you fertilize your Plumeria you give it the best chance of producing more blooms. However, you need to only fertilize your Plumeria once or twice a month at most, depending on the type of fertilizer you use. One good option for Plumeria fertilizer is Miracle Grow Bloom Booster. You can normally purchase this fertilizer at any local garden center for under $10. Rule of thumb would be every other watering and this would depend on your local rain forecast. Plumeria do not require fertilizer to bloom, this just increases your chances for more blooms and a healthier Plumeria. Once your Plumeria is well established then it should bloom on a consistent basis every year, normally with or without fertilizer. Fertilizer is good for Plumeria that have not been repotted. Since the soil losses nutrients over time your fertilizer makes up for the missing nutrients. Also, a Plumeria can stay in the same pot for many years, it is not necessary to repot your Plumeria each year. The root system of a Plumeria generally grow slowly until the 3rd or 4th year. You can also use Epson salt to help your Plumeria bloom.