How to Grow Plumeria (Frangipani) Like a Pro

Take a trip to Hawaii, and you’ll see people wearing necklaces or leis strewn with plumeria flowers. Luckily, while this type of plant is synonymous with paradise, it may be easier than you think to grow at home (both indoors as a potted plant and in the garden). In this guide, I’ll share my essential tips on how to grow and care for plumeria (frangipani) plants successfully.

How to Grow Plumeria (Frangipani)

How to Grow Plumeria – The Essentials: 

Botanical Name:Plumeria (genus)
Also Known As:Frangipani
Hardiness Zones:USDA zones 10 to 12
Flowering Months: May through November, depending on location
Growing Difficulty:Easy to Moderate
Type of Plant: Deciduous shrub or small tree
Light Requirements:Requires at least six hours of full sunlight
Temperature and Humidity:Thrives in temperatures from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with around 50 percent humidity.
Watering Needs:Water deeply, weekly or bi-weekly, in spring and summer. Avoid watering in winter, except if you live in a very dry climate. 
Soil Preferences:Slightly acidic, well-draining soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0
Feeding:Use a high-phosphorus fertilizer at least once a month during the growing season.
Growth Expectations:Some plumeria species can grow up to 20 feet tall outdoors. They are generally fast growers but will stay smaller if grown as potted plants. 
Toxicity:All parts of this plant are toxic. They produce a latex known to cause eye and skin irritation in humans and some animals. 

The Best USDA Growing Zones for Plumeria 

Plumeria flowers are considered hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12. However, the plant may do well in other zones if you meet its preferred growing conditions and care requirements. 

Bloom Time and Flowering Season

Plumeria will bloom during the warmer months as long as it receives enough sunlight. In the northern hemisphere, its flowering season will be from around May through November.

Growth Expectations for Plumeria

White Plumeria flowers in bloom

In the right conditions, some plumeria species can reach up to 20 feet or taller outdoors. If you grow this plant indoors, its branches will grow about a foot or so, depending on the species. 

In its preferred climate, the plumeria can grow as many as three feet per year, depending on the variety you’re growing. Others will grow more slowly. Generally, this plant’s growth will slow after about five to seven years, or once it reaches maturity.

How to Grow Plumeria

A young potted plumeria plant with deep green leaves

Are Plumerias Easy to Grow at Home? 

Yes, plumeria plants are generally easy to grow at home. Whether you choose to grow it in a pot or the garden, the key is making sure you meet plumeria’s preferred growing conditions. 

Best Locations to Plant

Now, you’ll want to find a warm location to plant your plumeria. The plant will be happiest in an environment between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and receives at least six hours of full sun per day.

Plumeria does well outdoors, but you may want to plant it in a pot if temperatures in your area drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or below. This way, you can bring the plant inside during cooler months. 

Best Times of Year to Plant

The best time to plant your plumeria shrubs is right before the plant’s growing season, in late winter or early spring. This will prepare your frangipani plant to enjoy plenty of growth during its growing season in spring and summer. 

Growing Plumeria Plants from Seed vs. Young Nursery Plants 

A collection of young nursery Plumeria Plants

You may wonder if you should buy plumeria from seed or by planting young nursery plants. 

The main consideration with plumeria seeds is that they can be hard to find. Not many stores stock them, so you may need to ask a fellow gardener with plumerias growing in their garden. You can harvest seeds in the spring or take cuttings at this time for propagation.

Buying pre-planted plumerias may be an easier choice. Just visit a local nursery to see if they have any in stock. Inspect the plant before purchase to ensure it’s healthy and thriving.

What to Do Before Planting

Before bringing your plumeria home, consider where you want to plant it. Plumerias need to grow in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

You’ll also want to learn a bit about this plant’s care needs and the tools required. For example, you’ll need to water the plant at least once a week during its growing season. 

Additionally, high-phosphorous fertilizer is useful to have on hand during the summer months. However, during the dormant months in winter, you don’t need to feed or water the plant in most cases. Read on to learn more about plumeria’s care requirements so you’ll be prepared when the time comes to plant your own at home. 

Ideal Soil

Plant your plumeria in free-draining soil. If you prefer to buy pre-mixed soil when planting in a container, a cactus mix will work well for this plant. You can also make a suitable coarse soil mix at home by combining potting mix with perlite and peat moss to improve drainage. 

Plumeria doesn’t like to sit in a soggy environment. So, this means you need soil that will allow its roots to access moisture without causing water to pool. 

This plant prefers a neutral to slightly acidic pH level. It will do best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. 

How to Plant

Now, it’s time to plant your new plumeria plant. Here are a few things to remember when growing this plant in your garden or a container. 

  • If you’re planting a plumeria in your garden, you will want to ensure there is enough space around the plant for its roots to spread. 
  • If you’re planting it in a container, the best types of pots are plastic or black nursery pots. 
  • It’s a good idea to avoid clay pots, as plumeria’s roots don’t like the porosity of this material.
  • To plant your plumeria, bury the seeds or cuttings into the soil about two inches from the surface. 
  • Next, cover over the area with more soil to secure the seeds in place. 
  • If you’re planting in a container, start with a small pot, and stick to one seed per pot. You can always repot the plant as it grows. 
  • Using a soil mix with perlite or sand can provide the drainage this plant needs. Consider mixing in these ingredients if you’re using a standard potting mix. 

Light Preferences

White flowering frangipani flowers in bloom with bright light breaking through

Plumerias require at least six hours of full sunlight every day to thrive. So, if you’re planting a plumeria indoors, it will do best near a south-facing window where it can enjoy the sunlight it needs. 

Where possible, aim for a location in the garden that receives abundant direct light throughout most of the day. 

If you live in a hot climate, your plumeria may prefer shade during the hottest afternoon. Just ensure it receives the sunlight it needs without baking in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Plumerias thrive in climates with ambient temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures drop below 55 degrees during the winter months, you should bring your plumeria indoors. 

Now, this plant prefers conditions with around 50 percent humidity. If you live in an area that doesn’t meet this requirement, you can mist the plant’s foliage or use a humidifier during its growing season.


How to Care for Plumeria

Two bright pink plumeria flowers in bloom against deep green leaves

Watering Requirements

You need to water your plumeria plants differently depending on the time of year. Water the plant deeply on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in spring and summer when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch. 

Refrain from watering when the leaves look like they’re about to drop or the plant is dormant in winter. You should never add so much water that it begins to pool on the soil’s surface, just enough to make the soil moist.

However, if you live in an extremely arid climate, your watering schedule may be different. In this case, you’ll want to water your plumeria every two weeks or so during the winter.

How, When, and Why to Fertilize 

Your plumeria will enjoy a high-phosphorus fertilizer at least once a month during the growing season. This will encourage more growth and keep your plant looking healthy and beautiful.

Only fertilize your plumeria during the warmer months, and avoid feeding during its dormant period. Your plumeria’s preferred feeding schedule will vary depending on the variety and other conditions.

Pruning and Cutting Back

White plumeria flowers bloom in a tropical location against bright blue skys

You won’t have to prune plumeria plants often. However, you may decide to trim it back to maintain size or if you notice any diseased branches.

If your plumeria requires pruning, do it in late winter or early spring before the growing season begins. Use sharp shears to trim a plumeria’s branches to your desired length. 

Propagating

You can propagate plumerias by taking cuttings from your original plant. The best time to do so is in the spring or summer. This will give the new plant the warmth and sunlight it needs to take root and grow.

Here are some steps to take to propagate a plumeria plant from a cutting.

  1. First, find a healthy branch on your original plant.
  2. Next, remove this branch with a sharp knife or scissors. Use disinfectant spray and rubbing alcohol to sterilize the tool before cutting.
  3. Cut the branch off with a clean cut. You can dip the place where you cut into powdered sulfur to protect the new cutting from fungus. 
  4. Now, wrap the cutting in plastic and then set it aside for at least two weeks or until the cut end forms a seal. 
  5. Finally, plant the cutting in a new black nursery or plastic pot in fresh soil. You may need to attach it to a stake until it takes root. 

Overwintering

Exotic and colorful looking Plumeria flowers in bloom

Fortunately, it’s possible to overwinter your plumeria plants indoors. To do so, move your plumeria inside if temperatures outside drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, you will want to find a dry location to store the plant with temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your plant is dormant, it won’t need water, sunlight, or even soil to make it through the winter months.  

Now, the plumeria will stop producing new blooms and foliage and may even lose its leaves. This is all part of the process. As long as you keep the plant above freezing, it will spring back to life when its growing season rolls around. 

When and How to Repot

As plumeria grow quickly and don’t enjoy a crowded root system, you may need to repot the plant every year or two. The best time to do this is in the spring, at the start of the plant’s growing season. 

An easy way to spot when a plumeria’s roots are outgrowing the pot is to check the container’s drainage holes. If the roots are trying to escape the pot, then you’ll know it’s time for a larger one.

Repot your plumeria by taking the following steps.

  • Wait until your plumeria’s soil is completely dry.
  • Remove the plant from its container and gently massage roots until the soil falls away.
  • Prune any leggy roots with scissors, but be sure to leave the root ball intact. 
  • Find a pot one size larger than the original container and fill it almost halfway with your plumeria’s preferred potting blend.
  • Place the plumeria into the container and fill the sides with soil, so the plant sits firmly inside the pot.

Common Problems and How to Treat Them

Common Plumeria Problems and How to Treat them

Generally, plumerias have easy care needs. However, it’s a good idea to be aware of common issues and how to treat them if they arise. Here are a few problems you may find with plumeria plants and ways to remedy them.

Signs Your Plumeria is Underwatered

If your plumeria doesn’t get enough water, its soil will become bone-dry, and it may begin to wilt. Simply put, underwatered plumerias just need an adjustment to their watering schedule. Increase the watering until the foliage begins to appear healthier. 

Signs It’s Overwatered

You’ll know your plumeria is overwatered if there’s a layer of residue on the soil’s surface or if it starts to smell sour. To address this issue, you can add more coarse soil to ensure proper drainage. You may want to decrease watering frequency as well. 

Signs a Plumeria is Getting Too Much Light

Although plumerias thrive in full sunlight, you must be careful during the hottest hours of the day. This is because plumerias do not enjoy an overheated root system. 

If you live in an area with high temperatures, you may notice brown spots around the edges of your plumeria’s foliage. To remedy this, make sure the plant has protection during those hot afternoon hours. 

Signs of Temperature Issues

Since plumeria plants are sensitive to cold weather, you must protect them when temperatures drop. If they are in temperatures below freezing, plumerias will wilt and die. The best way to protect this plant is to keep it in a pot you can take inside during the colder months.

Common Plumeria Pests and Diseases

A plumeria plant displaying rust fungus on the leaves

There are several common pests and diseases that can threaten your plumeria plants. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the following issues.

  • Spider mites: Spider mites are small insects that can leave webs all over your plant’s leaves. They can discolor the leaves by sucking out the plant sap, causing spots to appear. Spray the plant with water or a horticultural spray to remove mites and their debris.
  • Rust fungus: Plumeria rust fungus looks like a series of yellow-gold specks on the leaves. While this issue might not kill your plant, it can damage its foliage. Remove infected leaves and ensure they don’t come in contact with other plumeria plants.
  • Black tip fungus: Black tip fungus can affect plumeria plants, particularly in colder conditions. Black tips will appear and begin to damage areas of the plant. Use a good fungicide to treat the affected area and move the plant to a location that meets its light and temperature requirements. 

Essential Tools for Plumeria Care

A selection of garden tools

Here’s a list of tools we recommend for taking care of your plumeria plant.

  • Plastic container
  • Cactus mix or a coarse homemade soil blend with perlite and sand
  • A watering can
  • A high-phosphorus fertilizer
  • Sharp shears or scissors for clipping back the plumeria’s branches
  • Rubbing alcohol and disinfectant spray to sterilize your shears
  • Fungicide for any fungus-related issues

Plumeria FAQs:

Are plumerias easy to grow?

Yes, plumerias are easy to grow with the right conditions and care.

Where does pink plumeria grow natively?

Pink plumerias grow natively in Cuba, Hispaniola, and the region from Mexico to Panama.

What month do plumeria bloom?

Plumeria can bloom from May through November, depending on the climate.

What month do you prune plumeria?

Prune your plumeria in late winter or early spring, just before its bloom season begins.

Do plumerias need full sun?

Yes, plumerias grow best when they get at least six hours of full sun each day.

Wrapping Up

Luckily, you don’t have to travel to the Pacific Islands to enjoy plumeria blooms. With the right tools and care, you can grow your own frangipani at home. Take these tips on board, and you’re sure to have a garden full of beautiful tropical flowers to enjoy in the warmer months. 

Contributing Editor | brandy@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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