I was lucky enough to go on two family trips to Hawaii when I was younger. There are times I still remember getting off the airplane to be greeted by a Hawaiian woman who put a beautiful lei of plumeria flowers around my neck, as well as all those plastic plumeria flower souvenirs in many of the souvenir shops all over the islands. I now enjoy my own plumerias in my backyard and would love to share my plumeria care tips with you.
If you’re looking for a beautiful and fragrant plant to add to your garden, look no further than the plumeria! This tropical plant is easy to care for and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. In this guide, I will discuss everything you need to know about growing plumeria, from planting cuttings to caring for a mature tree.
Before I talk about plumeria care, I would like to briefly discuss the origin and history of plumeria plants. It is quite interesting.
Not a Hawaiian Native
I don’t know about you, but when I see a plumeria flower, a motif, or logo of one, I immediately think of Hawaii. Did you know these fragrant trees are not originally from the Aloha State? Neither did I!
So, where are these beautiful plants from anyways?
Origin of Plumeria
The plumeria tree is originally from the Caribbean. This makes sense since the Caribbean is another tropical area, although I do not think of plumerias when I see or hear about the Caribbean. Maybe pirates but definitely not plumerias!
Plumerias also originated in Mexico and Central America. From these places, plumeria trees spread to other tropical areas as well.
The plumeria plant was named after Charles Plumier. He was a French botanist who studied many plants in the Americas.
Another name for plumeria trees is frangipani (plumeria rubra). A 16th-century monk named Marquis Frangipani was known for a perfume he made. The plumeria flower’s scent and that of Frangipani’s perfume are similar to each other, hence the other name for plumeria plants.
Hello from Hawaii
The plumeria tree was first introduced to the great state of Hawaii in 1860. There is now such an abundance of plumeria plants in Hawaii that many people assume its a native plant.
Where Can Plumeria Trees Grow?
Plumeria plants can definitely grow in tropical areas, but where else can they grow? Plumerias can be grown in a variety of places, as long as the tree is brought in during the winter. USDA zone 10 is where plumeria trees grow best though.
I remember driving around Orange County, CA last year, seeing all the beautiful plumeria blooms thinking, I must have one! I am now the proud owner of two small plumeria trees.
Plumeria Care Basics
Caring for plumeria trees is quite easy. They can be grown in the ground or in containers. I have my two small plumeria trees in pots and they fit perfectly in my little balcony garden.
Plumerias grow based on the space that is available to them. These plants can spread out and grow as tall as over 20 feet. As container plants, plumerias will grow as much as the pot they are in will allow.
Plumerias are commonly sold as cuttings. The tree I bought was sold with some soil in its small pot. These plants have thin root systems, so it was easily transferred into a slightly larger pot.
The other plumeria I received as a gift from my best friend’s in-laws. They told me to let the cutting dry out in the shade for a few weeks, then plant it. This tree is currently growing in some beautiful leaves.
Plumeria Tree Care
As we mentioned, plumeria trees are relatively easy to care for. They are drought-tolerant and can survive in a wide range of soil types, as long as the soil is well-draining. When watering your plumeria tree, be sure to give it a deep watering about once a week. During the hotter months, you may need to water more often.
To fertilize your plumeria tree, use a balanced fertilizer that is specifically designed for flowering plants. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, typically every six weeks or so. You can also add some compost to the soil around your plumeria tree every few months to help it stay healthy and strong.
If you live in an area that gets cold winters, you’ll need to bring your plumeria tree indoors or store it in a protected area over the winter months. Plumeria trees are not frost-tolerant and will not survive if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that you know a little bit more about plumeria care, let’s take a look at how to grow plumeria from cuttings.
How to Grow Plumeria from Cuttings
The best time to take plumeria cuttings is in late spring or early summer. Look for a healthy branch on the plant that is about six inches long. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, make a clean cut just below a leaf node (the point where leaves are attached to the stem).
Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the cutting, then dip the cut end in rooting hormone. This step is optional, but it can help speed up the rooting process.
Fill a planting pot with well-draining potting mix, then insert the cutting about halfway into the soil. Water thoroughly and place in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Your cutting should root within four to six weeks. Once it has rooted, you can transplant it into a larger pot or into your garden.
If you plan to plant your tree in the ground, use half native soil and half well-draining soil. A cactus, palm and or desert soil will work great.
If potting the plant, you may want to add gravel or Perlite to the bottom. I added a few inches of mulch to both my potted plumerias and they are growing fine. Make sure that the containers have a hole for water drainage.
Growing Plumeria in Pots
One of the great things about plumeria is that they can be grown in pots! This makes them perfect for indoor or patio gardens. If you’re growing your plumeria in a pot, make sure to choose one that is at least 18 inches wide and has drainage holes.
Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix, such as cactus mix or perlite. Water your plumeria regularly, making sure to allow the soil to dry out between watering. When it comes to feeding, use a balanced fertilizer every other week during the growing season.
When I bought my first plumeria plant at the end of last summer, I expected it to start producing flowers right away. I’ve had it for almost a year and it just started blooming gorgeous yellow and white flowers. I’ve had to learn patience with this plant but its been well worth the wait.
The flowers are refreshingly fragrant. Each flowering tree has its own distinctive fragrance to enjoy.
How Much Water?
Plumeria trees are hardy plants that do not require much water. Plumerias need to be watered regularly while the leaves and flowers are blooming. Once the plant’s leaves fall off during the winter, it does not need to be watered.
I have been tempted to water my plants when they don’t need any, but try to hold back since I heard that overwatering is a common reason plants die, especially here in Southern California where many plants thrive with little water.
Plumeria Care Winter
Something else I learned about plumeria trees is that they become dormant in the winter. When the leaves fell off at the end of the year, I thought I had killed my plants. I wanted to throw them out when this happened, but took my husband’s advice and kept the plants.
I’m glad I did since now I have two beautiful trees! One is producing flowers while the other is producing leaves. I’m not sure why one is not producing flowers, but I’ve only had it a few months so I may have to wait another year before I get to enjoy its blooms.
Popular Types of Plumeria
There are many different types of plumeria trees in a variety of colors. One of the more common trees is plumeria rubra aztec gold. The flowers on this tree are white with a golden yellow center.
There are other variations with more or less gold, as well as more or less white on the flowers. They are all beautiful. Mine are a variation of gold and white flowers.
Other types of trees have pink and white flowers with different colored centers. I’ve seen blue and purple ones online, but I heard these were fake blooms. I’ve seen many white, yellow and pink plumerias while driving around my neighborhood.
I hope to own other colors of plumerias, but will enjoy my yellow and white flowered ones for now.
There are many different types of plumeria available, so you’re sure to find one that you love! Here are some of popular varieties:
- Frangipani (Plumeria rubra): This is the most common type of plumeria and is known for its fragrant flowers. The flowers are usually white, pink, red, or yellow.
- Plumeria pudica: This variety is also known as the “crying frangipani” because its flowers look like they are weeping. The flowers are white with yellow in the middle.
- Plumeria obtusa: This type of plumeria has rounder leaves than other varieties and can reach up to 20 feet tall. The flowers are white with a yellow or pink center.
Plumeria Care Questions
Below are some questions you may have about how to best care for your plumeria trees.
How do I get my plumeria to bloom?
To encourage blooming, make sure your plumeria tree is getting enough sunlight. It should be in a spot that gets six to eight hours of sun per day. In addition, plumeria trees need to be well-fed and watered. Be sure to use a fertilizer specifically designed for flowering plants and water deeply about once a week.
What are the white bumps on my plumeria leaves?
If you see small white bumps on the leaves of your plumeria tree, it is likely scale insects. These pests drink sap from the leaves, which causes them to turn yellow or brown. To get rid of scale insects, you can treat your plumeria tree with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Does plumeria need full sun?
Yes, plumeria trees need full sun to bloom. They should be in a spot that gets six to eight hours of sunlight per day.
How often should I water my plumeria tree?
Plumeria trees need to be watered about once a week, giving the soil time to dry out between waterings. The frequency may need to be increased during hot, dry weather.
What is the best fertilizer for plumeria?
To fertilize your plumeria tree, use a balanced fertilizer that is specifically designed for flowering plants. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package, typically every six weeks or so. You can also add some compost to the soil around your plumeria tree every few months to help it stay healthy and happy!
I knew the basics of plumeria care before I began researching for this blog post. I have learned so much more since and I hope you have learned a thing or two about plumeria care as well. Feel free to add your own tips on caring for plumeria trees below!
Still have more questions about plumeria care? Let me know in the comments section below!