Everything You Need to Know About Growing and Caring for Plumeria Flowers at Home
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 as well planted in the garden). Read on to discover how to grow a shrub or tree full of plumeria blooms. We’ll share everything from this plant’s cultural symbolism to the tools you’ll need to grow one in your garden.
- How to Grow Plumeria – The Essentials:
- About Plumeria
- Popular Types of Plumeria Flowers
- How to Grow Plumeria
- Are Plumerias Easy to Grow at Home?
- What are the best locations to plant Plumeria?
- What Are the Best Times of Year to Plant Plumeria?
- Growing Plumeria Plants from Seed vs. Young Nursery Plants
- What to Do Before Planting
- What’s the Best Soil for Growing Plumeria?
- How to Plant Plumeria
- Light Preferences
- Temperature and Humidity Preferences
- How to Care for Plumeria
- When and How to Repot Plumeria Grown in Containers
- Common Problems and How to Treat them
- Essential Tools for Plumeria Care
- Wrapping Up
- Growing Plumeria Plants FAQs
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. If you live in a very dry climate, water every two weeks in winter.|
|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.|
Scientific Facts About Plumeria
Plumeria is the genus name for several types of flowering plants. Many species within this genus are referred to using plumeria as a common name, like the Plumeria rubra.
There are 12 species that fall within the plumeria genus. Additionally, there are 16 species whose status within the genus is unresolved. There are more than 100 are considered synonyms of plumeria.
Species in the Plumeria genus belong to the Apocynaceae family, or the dogbane family. Most of these plants grow as small trees or deciduous shrubs with vibrant warm-weather blooms.
Plumeria Origins and History
Plumeria species are native to various regions in the Americas like Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. However, you can find plumeria blooms growing natively from Florida down to Brazil.
This genus gets its name from French botanist and Catholic monk Charles Plumier. During the 17th century, Plumier came to the ‘New World’ to document the native species of plants and animals that he found there.
This genus’s common name is frangipani. The name came about when an Italian nobleman claimed to have developed a perfume scented with plumeria. He believed this discovery would allow his family to have bread during a famine. So, he called the flower frangipani, which means ‘breaking bread’ in Italian.
General Botanical Characteristics
Typically, species in the plumeria genus grow as shrubs or small trees. Their blooms appear in various colors, including pink, purple, yellow, white, and red. The plant has green, oval-shaped leaves that come to a round or pointed tip depending on the variety.
Plumerias have a sweet fragrance that grows stronger at night. This is to attract nocturnal pollinators like the sphinx moth. Sometimes, people compare this plant’s scent to jasmine or citrus fruit.
Despite their enticing aroma, plumerias don’t produce nectar. This sweet fragrance alone is enough to lure in visitors to complete the pollination process.
Uses and Benefits of Plumeria
Gardeners may enjoy growing plumeria for more than just their beautiful blooms. In addition to attracting nighttime pollinators, plumeria also invites butterflies and bees.
People also enjoy the scent of plumeria flowers. In India, people often mix Plumeria rubra with other essences like sandalwood or vanilla to make incense. If an incense contains this plumeria species, it will have ‘champa’ in the name.
Some plumeria species have been studied in scientific research for potential medicinal properties. Indian herbalists have applied the medicinal benefits of plumeria to aid with different health issues. Some include bronchitis, stomach issues, and various other conditions.
However, as this genus is considered toxic, you should not consume any part of a plumeria plant without consulting a professional.
Cultural Significance of Plumeria
The plumeria’s history dates back as far as the Maya and Aztec eras. In Maya culture, plumerias symbolized the deities of fertility and life. Aztecs saw the plant as a sign of social status, and nobles often had them planted in their gardens.
Additionally, the plumeria is known as a sacred tree in South East Asia. Reliefs in Indonesian temples dating back as far as the 9th century depict plumeria trees and flowers. Today, some cultures in Asia consider plumeria plants a source of protection from demons and ghosts.
Plumeria flowers are used to make leis in the Pacific Islands. Leis are necklaces often given as a gift to honor the recipient. In Polynesian culture, women may wear a plumeria flower on one ear or the other to indicate whether they are single or taken.
Plumeria necklaces are also used ceremoniously in the Western Ghats mountain range in South India. At weddings in this area, the bride and groom trade cream-colored plumeria necklaces as a part of their nuptials.
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
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.
Best Companion Plants for Plumeria
It turns out, plumeria grows well with several different types of plants. Here are a few companion plants to grow alongside plumeria trees and shrubs.
- Elephant ears
- Crown of thorns, or Euphorbia milii
Frangipani plants will also look great growing beneath larger trees in your garden. Just make sure their preferred conditions are met for growing in the ground outdoors.
Popular Types of Plumeria Flowers
Out of the 12 species within the plumeria genus, the Plumeria rubra is one of the most popular to grow. There are several varieties of this species, each with its own unique colors and qualities.
Here are a few popular types of Plumeria rubra, as well as some other species you may want to grow at home.
Plumeria Rubra ‘Candy Stripe’
The candy stripe variety of Plumeria rubra has petals with a striking combination of pink, white, and yellow. They grow well in tropical climates and thrive whether planted in the ground or a planter.
Plumeria Rubra ‘Diva’
The plumeria diva is a white and yellow variety that sometimes has curled or ruffled petals. This variety stands out as its petals are significantly thicker than other plumeria blooms.
The Plumeria obtusa is known as the Singapore graveyard flower. It grows as a small tree with dark green leaves and white blooms.
The Plumeria pudica is native to Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama. It is sometimes called the fiddle leaf plumeria and produces blooms with white petals and yellow centers.
How to Grow Plumeria
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.
What are the best locations to plant Plumeria?
Now, you’ll want to find a warm location to plant your plumeria. The plant will be happiest in an environment that stays 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 drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or below in your area. This way, you can bring the plant inside to keep it warm during the cooler months.
What Are the Best Times of Year to Plant Plumeria?
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
You may be wondering 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 who already has 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. Be sure to inspect the plant before purchase to ensure it’s healthy and thriving.
What to Do Before Planting
It’s a good idea to consider where you want to plant your plumeria before bringing it home. Plumerias need to grow in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
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.
What’s the Best Soil for Growing Plumeria?
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 that is between 5.5 to 7.0 on the pH scale.
How to Plant Plumeria
Now, it’s time to plant your new plumeria plant. Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing this plant in your garden or a container.
- If you’re planting a plumeria in your garden, you will want to make sure 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.
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.
In the garden, aim for a location that receives abundant direct light throughout the majority of the day where possible.
If you live in a particularly warm climate, your plumeria may prefer shade during the hottest afternoon hours. Just make sure it’s receiving the sunlight it needs without baking in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Plumerias do best in warmer climates with ambient temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should bring your plumeria indoors during the winter months if temperatures drop below 55 degrees.
Now, this plant prefers conditions with around 50 percent humidity if possible. 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
Watering Plumeria Plants
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 surface of the soil, 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 Plumeria
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, make sure to 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.
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 if you want to propagate a plumeria plant from a cutting.
- First, find a healthy branch on your original plant.
- Next, remove this branch with a sharp knife or scissors. Use a combination of disinfectant spray and rubbing alcohol to sterilize the tool before cutting.
- 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.
- Now, wrap the cutting in plastic and then set it aside for at least two weeks or until the cut end forms a seal.
- 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.
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 where temperatures are 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 in temperatures above freezing, it will spring back to life when its growing season rolls around.
When and How to Repot Plumeria Grown in Containers
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
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 have 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 waterings until its 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 have to 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 begin to 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 need to 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
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
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
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.
Growing Plumeria Plants 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 spanning 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.