Yellowing Plumeria Leaves: What Causes Plumeria Leaves To Turn Yellow?

The Plumeria tree is a tropical, flowering, deciduous shrub hailing from Venezuela, Central America, and Mexico. This small tropical tree is valued for its beautiful, fragrant white, yellow, pink, and red flowers. 

You may hear Plumeria referred to as Hawaiian Lei Flower, Temple Tree, or Frangipani. This tropical bush or small tree is a beautiful addition to the landscape in USDA hardiness zones 9-11.

colorful Plumeria flowersPin

With all its tropical beauty, you might believe that growing Plumeria would be challenging, but it is actually quite easy to care for this hardy, gorgeous plant. One problem you must look out for is yellowing leaves.

Why Plumeria Leaves Are Turning Yellow?

Plumeria is prone to yellowing leaves or chlorosis. There are a number of different conditions for this problem. Examples include: 

  • Exposure to cold temperatures
  • Soil pH levels too high
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Poor drainage
  • Natural aging
  • Rootbound
  • Root rot

In this article, we explore these causes of yellowing leaves on Plumeria and share information to help you avoid and/or deal with this common problem. Read on to learn more.

7 Reasons for Yellowing Plumeria Leaves

Exposure to Cold Temperatures 

Indoors or outdoors, Plumeria should be protected against the cold. Anytime the temperature will drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor Frangipani should be covered. 

Plumeria flower with vibrant leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @heldogreid

In lower hardiness zones, where temperatures regularly fall below 50° degrees Fahrenheit, this gorgeous plant makes an attractive container plant to be kept on the porch or patio during the warmer months and brought indoors during cold weather. 

Keep indoor plants in containers away from drafty doors and windows. B Be sure all danger of frost has passed before uncovering outdoor plants or placing indoor plants outside. 

Too Little Sun

These sun-loving plants prefer a location that receives a minimum of 6-8 hours of bright, direct sunlight daily. When overwintering your plant indoors, place it in a location where it will receive a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight daily. 

Soil pH Levels Too High

Alkaline soil may be corrected by the addition of organic mulch, sphagnum peat moss, or elements such as: 

  • Acidifying nitrogen
  • Aluminum sulfate
  • Elemental sulfur
  • Iron sulfate

It’s worth noting that pH level irregularities should not be a problem if you repot your Frangipani annually in the right sort of soil, as discussed below. 

Nutrient Deficiencies

An imbalance in nutrients can also cause leaves to turn yellow. For example, too much copper, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, and/or manganese can make it difficult or impossible for the plant to uptake iron.

Conversely, a lack of potassium can also make it impossible for your plant to uptake iron. 

Green plant leaves spread out on a stone background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @tameriehalliday

Foliar feeding may help Plumeria suffering from nutritional deficiencies. A standard, commercial plant food with an NPK ratio of 3-1-3 makes a good foliar feed for this plant.

The addition of a teaspoonful of Epsom salts per gallon of water, along with the additive known as SuperThrive at a rate of two drops per gallon, may give the plant the boost it needs, temporarily, to avoid the development of more yellow leaves. 

Details on Fertilizer For Plumeria

Depending on what nutrients are missing, Hawaiian Lei Flower leaves will yellow differently. For example, if the yellowing is caused by a lack of iron, the young, terminal leaves will turn yellow first. If left untreated, older leaves will start to yellow. 

If the yellowing is caused by a lack of nitrogen, manganese, or zinc, older inner leaves will turn yellow first, and the yellowing will move outward on the plant. 

Give your plant a meal of high phosphorus, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks throughout the growing season. Stop feeding it during the autumn and the winter. 

Check on, rule out, and/or correct all of the potential physical problems before trying intensive fertilizer treatments. A Temple Tree that is comfortably potted in the correct substrate, receiving the proper amount of light, warmth, and water and regular, judicious fertilizing will recover from yellowing leaves. [source]

Root Rot

Excessive watering or standing in water can lead to root rot

Plumeria is thirsty during the growing season (spring and summer). It’s best to water thoroughly and then wait for the top inch or so of the soil to dry before watering thoroughly again.

Yellow leaves and pink flowers on pavement.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plumeria.papa

Your plant will go dormant in the winter, so reduce watering to just enough to keep the substrate slightly damp. Excessive watering will cause root rot. 

Poor Drainage

Plumeria like light, airy, sharply draining soil, so use a growing medium made up of equal parts: 

  • Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • Coarse Sand
  • Perlite

The growing medium should always be just slightly damp, but it should never be soggy. When the top inch of potting soil feels dry – water thoroughly. Allow the water to run through the potting soil. Never leave your Plumeria Tree standing in water.

Related: Tips on Starting Plumeria Plants From Cuttings

Root Bound 

Crowded roots will also cause root rot. These plants do not do well when root-bound. It is wise to repot your plants every year in the springtime. 

If you do not repot often enough, nutrients may run out, causing soil depletion. Alternately, nutrient deficiencies may occur if the plant cannot uptake nutrients (i.e., nitrogen, zinc, magnesium, and/or manganese) because the soil’s pH level is too high or the roots have been damaged or are overcrowded. 

If you have been fertilizing regularly but still have problems with yellow leaves, you may need to repot to give the roots more room to spread out and to provide richer potting soil. 

Repotting will also allow you to examine the roots and trim away any areas that may be damaged or rotted. 

Natural Aging

Older, lower leaves may be yellow occasionally. When this is the case, prune them off with a clean, sharp-cutting implement. New leaves will soon grow in. 

At the end of the winter, your plant may have a number of yellow leaves and may look a bit ragged. Spring is the best time to prune away damaged or diseased branches.

A dew-speckled yellow leaf hanging from a branch.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @framesoflittlethings

A good pruning before the growing season gives your plant an attractive shape and stimulates fresh growth. 

Prune with very sharp, clean shears. After making a pruning cut, rinse the cut with cool water to seal it and stop the flow of latex sap from the cut. 

TIP: Be careful when pruning Plumeria. Many people are allergic to latex, which can cause a rash and/or eye irritation. Wear gloves and eye protection when pruning, and wash up immediately afterward. 

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