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Caring for Your Plumeria

Plumeria, also known as Frangipani and are also known for it's Hawaiian lei flower. The exotic plumeria is a tropical plant that is easy to grow. It can be easily maintained as a small tree grown in a container on the patio or in the garden. It can be grown in the grown in tropical or subtropical regions.

Sun Requirements

Plumeria love sun, they thrive in full sun. Plumeria require at least 4 to 6 hours of sun to properly produce blooms. Plumeria will not produce blooms without adequate sun exposure. Full sun (sunup to sundown) is best. Mature plumeria plants will bloom the entire growing season. In some regions from March through November, depending on where you live and the length of your growing season.

Plumeria can be grown in containers, in the ground, or containers sunk in the ground. During the months of active growth, sun, food, and water are essential. Healthy plumeria will grow vigorously and bloom regularly and profusely when they receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day and an ample amount of balance fertilizers.

Water Requirements

Plumeria love lots of water, but can't tolerate wet feet, so they must be planted in fast draining soil or in beds with adequate drainage. Clay, gumbo, and silt are examples of poor draining soils; avoid these at all costs. Plumeria love water but they need to dry out between watering. Plumeria can withstand extended periods of being dry. Small pots may need to be watered daily, while Large pots or those in the ground may not need it as often. One way to determine how often you should water is to use a moisture meter. Plumeria will adjust to almost any conditions they find themselves in. Remember, drier is better than wetter. Never use a saucer under your plants. 

Insects & Disease

Plumeria have very few problems. Spider Mites, White Flies, Mealy Bugs, Leafhoppers and Scale will attack plants left too dry and/or in too much shade. Spray with a good mineral oil or chemicals suggested for these specific insects. Spray every 7-10 day until no signs of insects remain. Plumeria occasionally get a "rust" fungus on the leaves in the fall, but it is rarely very harmful because the plants start to lose their leaves about the same time. "Rust" is always the result of not enough air circulation combined with high humidity or too much moisture on the leaves.

Growing and Storage

The way you care for your plumeria depends on the season of the year. Bring your plants out of storage in the spring, watch them grow and bloom in the summer, prepare for dormancy and storage in the fall, and store them for the winter. Plants may be left outside if there is no damage of frost of freeze. If your nighttime temps are below 40°F you should be prepared to protect you plumeria from frost.

Spring

When the nighttime temperatures begin to remain above 55°F and there's no more danger of cold weather, plumeria can be brought out of winter storage and encouraged to break dormancy. Due to conditions of storage, some root loss and desiccation of branches is expected, this is no cause for alarm. This is the time to feed, water, top dress, and/or repot. Since the plant is dormant, it will be minimally disturbed by repotting and root pruning as necessary.

Repotting and root pruning are optional and are performed as with any other container grown plant. Top dress by scraping off the loose soil and dead roots from the first couple centimeters of soil. Replace the removed soil with a mixture of compost and/or well composed cow manure. 

This is a great time to give you plumeria a jump start by soaking the root ball or drenching in a mixture of Vitazyme and Carl Pool's Root Activator.

Feed and water thoroughly using a fertilizer such as a granular slow release fertilizer with micronutrients such as Excalibur 11-11-13 or drench with a water soluble fertilizer such as Bioblast. 

Place the plant in a warm and sunny location. Some people like to sink the container into the ground, but be sure it is in a raised and well drained area such as a rose bed. This promotes more vigorous growth, provides support, and prevents it from blowing over. Plumeria tips are fragile and easily snapped off when the plant blows over.

Spring is the best time for propagating plumeria. Cutting are easiest to root and will provide plenty of time for the roots to be established before dormancy in the Fall. 

Summer

For plumeria, summer has arrived once a lush growth of leaves has developed. Many will bloom before developing leaves, others will not. Once the leaf growth has developed, the summer regimen of care can be followed.

As mentioned before plumeria are heavy feeders. However, in order to discourage excessive stem elongation and to promote flowering, balanced fertilizers such as Excalibur 11-11-13 with micronutrients are, once again, recommended. Carl Pool's BR-61 are excellent choices to use early in the season as a foliar feed. (Caution, over use of a high phosphorus fertilizer such as Super Bloom or Carl Pool's BR-61 can cause damage to you plumeria and the environment) Keep a plumeria healthy by feeding once or twice a month with Bioblast, and watering as necessary. The recommended slow release fertilizer Excalibur can be mixed directly in the top inch of the soil and then watered in. Excalibur IV will last 6 months and Excalibur IX will last 9 months.

During exceptionally hot periods, plants in above ground containers may need thorough watering as often as every other day. Drooping leaves can indicate a thirsty plant. As with all plants, check the soil before watering, if its dry for the first several inches, water thoroughly. Certain varieties of plumeria find some areas heat excessive for nominal blossom production. If this appears to be a problem, move the plant into a "shifting shade" location for better flower production and keeping quality.

As the days begin to grow shorter during August and September, some lower leaf yellowing and drop is normal. Some varieties will attempt a fall bloom cycle, if you are lucky and the weather cooperates, plumeria can still be blooming into November and December! But watch out, an early frost can damage or kill the plant.

Fall

For plumeria, fall begins once the nighttime temperature frequently begins to drop below 55°F. Studies have concluded that plumeria stop growing or slow dramatically  when the average ambient temperature drops below 65°F. And the length of daylight shortens. Stop feeding about a month before Fall and reduce water to encourage the plant to go into its natural dormant period.

Some growers think that feeding after mid August may contribute to the black tip fungus problem, however this has not been proven. It is difficult to predict the weather and therefore it's difficult to give a date by which your plumeria should be safely stored for the winter. By all means, if temperatures are expected to fall into the lower 30°sF, the plants should be protected. Most varieties can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 30°sF for even a few hours.

 

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