How to Care 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.
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.
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, Leaf hoppers 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.
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 micro nutrients such as Excalibur Plumeria Fertilizer11-11-13 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.
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 Plumeria Fertilizer 11-11-13 with micro-nutrients are, once again, recommended. (Caution, over use of a high phosphorus bloom buster fertilizers can cause damage to you plumeria and the environment) The recommended slow release fertilizer Excalibur can be mixed directly in the top inch of the soil and then watered in. Excalibur Plumeria Fertilizer 11-11-13 IV will last 6 months and Excalibur Plumeria Fertilizer 11-11-14 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.
For plumeria, fall begins once the night time 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 proved. 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° F, the plants should be protected.
Most varieties can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 32° F for even a few hours.
Additional information is available on ExcaliburPlumeriaFertilizer.com, PlumeriaSeeds.com, PlumeriaCuttings.com, GrowingPlumeria.com and Plumeria.care websites.
Florida Colors Nursery Plumeria Care Regimen
I would like to share our vision of the best Plumeria care regimen for all plumeria growers. I hope the following helps you with your goals and plans for the year.
The goal is to know what, when and why, so you can improve every year by giving your plumeria the best growing conditions. Making a plan and documenting all adjustments will allow you to look back and hopefully determine where you can make improvements.
At the beginning of each season, we examine what we did last year and try to determine how we can improve our methods and products. The following is an outline for our Plumeria Care Regimen at Florida Colors Nursery. Please keep in mind your growing environment and how it differs from our Zone 10B in South Florida. The start of your plan should correspond to when you are past the threat of a frost or freeze. You should also make a plan to protect you plumeria from cold weather, just in case you get caught.
Before your spring growing season
When: At the beginning of your growing season or before you modify your soil or add nutrients.
What: I highly suggest getting a Soil Test to determine what nutrients your soil has or doesn't have. The more you know about your soil and environment the better decisions you can make about caring for your plumeria.
How: Your local agriculture office or local nursery can perform soil tests. There are also commercial companies and self-test kits available.
Why: The soil test will indicate what nutrients are present and if they are locked up. A too high or too low pH will make it difficult or impossible for your Plumeria to absorb nutrients efficiently.
Removing damaged branches and roots
When: Before putting them out for spring.
What: Start by checking your plumeria for signs of insects, branch or root rot, soft branches, bent branches or broken branches.
How: Cut all damaged branches until you see all white when possible. Trim roots until you see white or green.
Why: Remove dead, damaged and diseased branches and roots to help prevent insect & decay organisms from entering the plumeria. Eliminate crossing branches to prevent damage caused by their rubbing against each other.
Checking and Spraying tips for insects
When: Before putting them out for spring from storage or as leaves and blooms start to grow
Greenhouses & pots, you should have been controlling pest all winter. But it is still a good idea to treat before taking out. I suggest you spray two weeks before taking them out and again right after taking out for Spring.
In the ground, I suggest you start spraying as soon as you see the leaves emerging. (Do not spray in direct sunlight or on dehydrated plants)
What: Suggest - Summit Year-Round Spray Oil
How: Spray or mist to cover the entire plant.
Why: By treating with Year-Round Spray Oil or similar you kill the insects and eggs. Giving your plants a good healthy start. Horticultural oil controls insects without synthetic chemicals. Mites including Rust Mite / Spider Mite (also eggs), Scales including Black Scale, California Red Scale, Whitefly and Blackfly (also eggs), Sooty Mold.
Plumeria waking up from Dormancy
When: As soon as you see the sign of your plumeria waking up and if the weather allows.
What: Soak your plumeria roots with a mixture of water, root activator (Carl Pools Root Activator) and a bio stimulate (Vitazyme) to help give them a kick-start.
What we suggest: A mixture of Vitazyme and Carl Pool’s Root Activator.
How: Soak your bare rooted plants for about 1 hour. Soak your potted plants from bottom up or drench. Drench you're in ground plants with 1 to 2 gals.
Why: A bio stimulate (Vitazyme) helps the overall health of the plants and the root activator (Carl Pool Root Activator) give the roots a kick-start with what they need to wake up and start growing.
Watering - Water heavy for the first two days and water heavy every other day for the first week. After that water as needed.
Re-potting or adding soil
When: In the Spring or when they outgrow their pots or when they need additional soil.
What: An excellent well-balanced and well-draining soil. I prefer to use soils without fertilizers and a good decomposed natural mulch without additives.
What we suggest: A good soil mixture is 1/3 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, 1/3 coir and 1/3 Perlite (horticultural grade). Or potting soil with a little extra perlite added or a similar soil mix.
How: The goal is to provide new soil to add back washed away nutrients to the roots. Gently shake off as much of the old soil as possible and fill in with fresh soil. Water in well and add more soil as needed. For repotting we add decomposed natural mulch, 1”-2” in the bottom and 1”-2” on top of pots depending on the pot size. This adds some organic matter as it decomposes and helps keep the weeds out and moisture in.
Why: Fresh soil provides aeration, retains moisture and adds back nutrients that were washed out or used up by the plants. Over time, the organic materials that the soil mix is made will break down and decompose to the point where you will lose the drainage and aeration properties that are inherent in container media. When that happens, discard the old soil to the compost pile or to the garden and refill the container with fresh soil mix.
Mulching - Use decomposed mulch to add nutrients and organic matter. The mulch on the top also helps keep weeds down and helps retain moisture. In the ground, cover the ground with natural mulch partially decomposed up to 12” deep each year. If you use fresh mulch, the decomposition will rob your plants of nitrogen.
Watering – Always water well for the next two or three days.
First fertilizing – Granular
When: At the beginning of the growing season
What: Use a balanced granular controlled release fertilizer with micronutrients.
What we suggest: Excalibur VI (6 months) and IX (9 months) with an NPK of 11-11-13 and micronutrients designed specifically for Plumeria or a similar fertilizer
How: Cover the fertilizer with 1"-2" of soil and water well.
Why: Granular fertilizer is designed to feed your plumeria from the roots, from the bottom up. Healthy roots are the key to producing healthy plants. We have found that a balanced NPK fertilizer with micronutrients produce healthy growth, promotes blooming, bloom size and seed production. It is essential to use a balanced fertilizer not high in nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium. A balanced fertilizer with micronutrients will also help correct nutrient deficiencies.
Foliage Fertilizing – Throughout the growing season
When: From every two weeks to every month.
What: A Balanced fertilizer with micronutrients.
What we suggest: Bioblast with micronutrients and an NPK of 7-7-7. We also spray with Vitazyme every time we spray.
How: Foliar feeding in the early morning or late evening, avoid applying in hot sunshine.
Why: Foliar feeding is used to get the nutrients to the leaves and branches faster, but doesn't last as long as granular fertilizers. Used to improve the overall health from the top down and give the leaves and blooms a quick shot of nutrients during stressful times.