Plumeria Flower: How To Care For The Frangipani Tree

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The Plumeria tree is a fast-growing tropical plant producing masses of fragrant blossoms between March and October. The Plumeria plants reach a height of 30′ feet tall at maturity.

This species is native to Central America, particularly Mexico, Venezuela, South America, the Caribbean, and Colombia. It’s also a member of the Apocynaceae family.

Frangipani Plumeria blooms – Yellow center on white flowers

Plumeria rubra has the following common names:

  • Frangipani
  • Red paucipan
  • Red-jasmine
  • Red frangipani
  • Common frangipani
  • Temple tree

Plumerias, also known as Frangipani or the ‘lei flower,’ is native to tropical areas like Hawaii… but you don’t have to live in a tropical climate to grow them. 

As a tropical plant, it is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Although it can’t tolerate freezing winter, the small tree can be planted in a container with potting soil and brought indoors for winter storage.

Hawaiian Plumerias grow profusely and are a popular bloom choice for leis. The Plumeria flower is also referred to as the Hawaiian Lei Flower.

Tropical Plumeria plants, or botanically Frangipani deliver clusters of beautiful star-shaped flowers in a variety of shades, including white, pink, red, and yellow.

Since they are pollinated by night-flying sphinx moths, the flowers really begin to release their fragrance in the evening, but they can still have a lovely floral scent at other times.

The highly fragrant flowers stand out nicely amid the large-leaved foliage, which is evergreen or deciduous, depending on the variety.

Frangipani Tree Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Plumeria Frangipani
  • Common Name(s): Frangipani, Hawaiian Lei Flower
  • Synonyms: Plumeria rubra, Plumeria acuminata
  • Pronunciation: Plu-me-ria
  • Family & Origin: Apocynaceae family, Central America, particularly Mexico, Venezuela, South America, the Caribbean, and Colombia.
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 9-11
  • Size: Can grow up to 30′ feet tall, but can be pruned to maintain a smaller size
  • Flowering: Blooms in the summer and fall, with fragrant flowers in shades of pink, yellow, white, and red
  • Light: Full sun or at least 6 hours of sunlight
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F. Average temperature climates ranging from 65°-85° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Soil: Well-draining soil, can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil
  • Water: Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. May also be prone to root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated from stem cuttings or by grafting
  • Plant Uses: Often used in tropical landscapes, as well as for cut flowers and lei making. The flowers are also used in perfumes and essential oils.

Plumeria Care

Soil Requirements

The Frangipani is a wonderful landscape addition to the home garden but is well suited for pot culture.

Although it is a hardy plant and does well in general-purpose soil, the Plumeria does best in well-drained soil, whether in the ground or pots. Soil with very good drainage and a great deal of other beneficial organics.

A cactus mix or succulent soil produces excellent results. A peat moss, coarse sand, and perlite-based soil mix are also good for potted Plumeria. Add some pumice to improve the drainage.

Grow as a potted plant if moving is required as weather necessitates. If you want the appearance of the Plumeria growing in the ground, bury the plant in the nursery pot. Then, dig it up when seasonal temperatures go down.

Sunlight Requirement

As with most flowering plants, Frangipani trees need exposure to plenty of direct sunlight for proper flowering. 

Growing Plumeria in pots does best with afternoon shade; otherwise, full sun or at least 6 hours of sunlight is preferred.

Watering The Frangipani Tree

The Plumeria is drought-tolerant but requires deep watering about once a week.  

When watering Plumeria trees, remember they do not like wet feet. Water frequently when the plant holds lots of foliage and flowers, typically from March to late November.

Only water when the soil becomes dry. Plumeria does not like its roots in soggy conditions. When summer rains arrive and during the active growing season, you do not need to think about watering.

When the leaves start to fall, stop watering. Do not water the plant again until you see new leaves. Watering plants while in dormancy often leads to killing the plant.

Plumeria Fertilizer – What Do They Like?

Like most flowering plants, a Plumeria fertilizer provides high levels of phosphorous, especially when developing flowers. 

Look for a fertilizer with a high middle number like 10-30-10, often called “Bloom Booster” fertilizers.

If applying a liquid high-phosphorous fertilizer, apply once after every 4-5 weeks. Do not overfeed with nitrogen, or you will end up with longer, weaker stems and less blooming, as nitrogen encourages foliage growth.

Best Growing Temperatures

The Plumeria does well in average temperature climates ranging from 65°-85° degrees Fahrenheit. The plant will tolerate high temperatures, although you’ll need to water the plants more frequently.

Bring the plant indoors when the temperatures fall below 55° degrees Fahrenheit. Grow Plumeria plants in pots in cold climates. DO NOT

How Much Humidity Does Frangipani Need?

Frangipani flowers prefer moderate humidity. Place the pot on a tray of wet pebbles. This raises the humidity around the plant. 

Misting is a good idea, especially in summers with high temperatures. Take care when misting as to only mist the foliage, not the flowers.

Pruning Frangipani To Control Size

Prune tropical Frangipani trees only to control their size and shape or when removing broken and diseased branches. 

Use bypass pruners like Felco, our favorite, or loppers, and trim the branch flush to its joining point on the main branch.

With pruning, plants can be kept to a shrub shape or a smaller landscape feature. They can also be maintained in a smaller size for growing in containers and moved indoors if your region has chilly winters.

Any broken branches can be pruned back in spring before new growth begins.  Avoid ripping or damaging the bark when removing long and heavy branches. 

This video on Trimming Your Plumeria Tree – Plumeria tree care should help.

The plant can tolerate pruning all year round, although pruning in the winter will reduce the springtime Plumeria flowers.

Related: Problems with Your Plumeria Leaves Turning Yellow?

Repotting Young Plants

In early spring when the plant roots fill the plant container, move it into larger pots. Ensure the larger pots come with drainage holes to help prevent root rot.

Give Frangipani Trees A Winter Rest

Most varieties of Frangipani go dormant in winter months, requiring a refreshing rest. Keep them in a cool room, a garage, or a basement. 

Make sure the temperature does not fall below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

Growing Plumeria Trees – Propagating

Start plants from cuttings or from seed pods.

How To Start A Plumeria Cutting

  • Select a healthy mother plant for Plumeria cuttings
  • Allow the milky sap from the cutting to dry
  • For best results, use 12″ inch cuttings at a minimum
  • Prepare a fast-draining soil of 2/3 perlite and 1/3 peat
  • Fill small pots with the potting mix leaving 1″-2″ inch from the pot rim
  • Dip the bare root cutting into a rooting hormone powder (some recommend allowing the cutting to dry for a week before planting)
  • Stick the cutting into the pot
  • Firmly press the soil around the cutting. Add more soil if needed
  • Water until water runs out of the drain holes
  • Place the pot in a warm, sunny location
  • Roots should develop in 3-5 weeks

PRO TIP: Do not overpot the new cuttings. Allow the small pot to fill with roots before moving the plant to the next larger pot.

How To Grow From Seed Pods

  • Acquire a seed pod or seeds from your local garden store or online
  • Fill small plastic trays or pots will rich and well-drained potting mix
  • Place the seeds in the soil leaving the wings sticking up
  • Firm soil around seeds to ensure good contact
  • Keep the soil moist and place in a sunny location.
  • Germination takes about 21 days.

Plumeria Plant Pests And Fungal Diseases

Few problematic diseases and pests attack Frangipani. Plumeria rust, an Orange powder, or blisters may cover the foliage or on the undersides of leaves. 

The rust can cause defoliation, but the loss of leaves is rarely life-threatening to the plant. Treat the problem with a fungicide.

Pests such as spider mites, black & yellow aphids, mealybugs insects, white flies, and plumeria plant scale bugs may attack. Control the insect problem (kill black aphids) with spray applications of insecticidal soaps.

Plumeria stem borers can damage the stems from the inside out causing the plant to wilt or die. Remove the infected branches and leaves.

NOTE: If you’ve grown Nerium oleander, I’ve found the care and growing of Plumerias very similar and part of the Dogbane family.

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