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.
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 during winter.
Hawaiian Plumerias grows profusely and a popular bloom choice for leis. The Plumeria flower is also referred to as the Hawaiian Lei Flower.
Plumeria or botanically Frangipani delivers beautiful star-shaped flowers in a variety of shades including white, pink, red and yellow.
The highly fragrant flowers stand out nicely amid the large-leaved foliage, which is evergreen or deciduous depending on the variety.
This species is native to Central America, particularly in Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. Plumeria rubra has the following common names:
- Red paucipan
- Red frangipani
- Common frangipani
- Temple tree
The Frangipani is a wonderful landscape addition well suited for pot culture as well.
Although it is a hardy plant and does well in any soil, the plant does best in a well-drained soil whether in the ground or pots. A soil with very good drainage and a great deal of other beneficial organics.
Potting is recommended if moving the plant is required as weather necessitates. If you want the appearance of the plant growing in the ground, bury the plant in the nursery pot. You can dig it up when seasonal temperatures goes down.
As with most of the flowering plants, Frangipani trees need plenty of sunlight for proper flowering. If growing the plant in pots, it does best with afternoon shade; otherwise, full sun or at least 6 hours of sunlight is preferred.
Watering The Frangipani Tree
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. When summer rains arrive, and actively growing, 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 need high levels of phosphorous, especially when developing flowers. Look for a fertilizer with a high middle number like 10-30-10, often knows as “Bloom Booster” fertilizers.
If applying a liquid high phosphorous fertilizer, apply once after every 4-5 weeks. Do not over feed with nitrogen or you will end up with longer, weaker stems and less blooming as nitrogen encourages foliage growth.
Best Growing Temperatures
The plant does well in average temperature ranging from 65-85 degrees F. The plant will tolerate high temperature although you’ll need to water the plants more frequently. Bring the plant indoors when the temperatures fall below 55 degrees F.
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 Frangipani trees only to control its size, shape or when removing broken and diseased branches. Use a bypass pruners like Felco our favorite or loppers and trim the branch flush to its joining point on the main branch.
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 the year round although pruning in the winter will reduce the springtime Plumeria flowers.
Repotting Young Plants
In early spring when the plant roots fill the plant container, move it to a larger pot. Ensure the larger pot comes 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 cuttings
- For best results use 12″ inch cuttings at a minimum
- Prepare the soil of 2/3 perlite and 1/3 peat
- Fill the pot with the pot 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
How To Grow From Seed Pods
- Acquire seed pods 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
Pests And 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 loss of leaves is rarely life-threatening to the plant. Treat the problem with a fungicide.
Pests such as spider mites, black & yellow aphids, mealy bug insect, whiteflies, and plumeria scale insects 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.