Plumeria Yearly Care Regimen

Plumeria Yearly Care Regimen

Many plumeria growers have a varied approach to fertilizing, and that can result in inconsistent growth and blooming.  We believe that a standardized feeding regimen can greatly reduce your work, while improving your plumerias’ health at the same time.

Depending on who you talk to, you may receive a lot of advice about feeding, with recommendations such as “use bloom busters” or even a specific brand every two weeks,” to “weekly”.  My recommendation is to base one’s feeding regimen upon the needs of the plumeria, and to manage that regimen in terms of nutrient formula, feeding frequency, and nutrient concentration.

Some basic rules to follow:

  • Choose a formula that is nutritionally complete. That is, one containing all of the macro- and micronutrients needed by plumeria.
  • Control your application rate by the amount of nitrogen, letting the other nutrients ‘fall in line” according to the formula.
  • The formula should be appropriate for the plumeria you grow and your watering requirements.
  • Avoid very high-nitrogen formulations, as they can be detrimental to flowering.
  • Avoid high phosphorus formulations, as they tend to build up in the soil, lock out other nutrients and stress the plants.
  • Use one formulation exclusively for at least one growing season and assess how your plants are doing. If there’s a problem, analyze the potential deficiency based upon the observed symptoms.
  • Have our soil test to determine what nutrients your existing soil contains.

I’m a believer in constant feeding with a slow time released complete fertilizer released with heat and watering, as opposed to the binge-and-starve routine of only adding fertilizer every “nth” month or “nth” watering.

I base this on three factors:

  • In nature, the plumeria’ food supply may be meager, but it is more-or-less always present, especially for plumeria grown in the grown.
  • Plumeria need a certain amount of nutrition to grow and bloom. Frequent dilute feedings are less risky than a single, highly-concentrated one.
  • A slow-release fertilizer reduces the likelihood of fertilizer burn.

Research has shown us that plumeria grow and bloom the best when fed a somewhat balance and complete fertilizer.

I want to share the best Plumeria care regimen for plumeria growers in South Florida. I hope the following helps you with your goals and plans.

The goal is to know what, when, and why, so you can improve every year by giving your plumeria the best possible growing environment. Making a plan and documenting any adjustments from the previous year will allow you to look back and hopefully determine where you can make improvements or where you made mistakes.

At the beginning of each season, we examine what we did last year and determine how to improve our methods and products. The following is an overview of what we do yearly for our Care Regimen at Florida Colors Nursery. Please keep in mind your growing environment and how it differs from South Florida Zone 10B. The start of your plan should correspond to when you are past the threat of a frost or freeze. You should also have a plan to protect your plumeria from cold weather, just in case you get a unsuspected frost or freeze.

Before your spring growing season starts.

I 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. The soil test will indicate what nutrients are present but locked up or that you need micronutrients. It is less important if you are using fresh purchased potting soil. 

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 help to 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 the insects hatching from 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.
  • Did you know that spider mites go dormant in cold weather?

Plumeria waking up from Dormancy

  • When: As soon as you see signs of your plumeria waking up and if the weather allows. As you are removing them from storage.
  • What: Soak your plumeria roots with a mixture of water, root activator, and a bio stimulate 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 the bottom-up or drench. Drench your in-ground plants with 1 to 2 gals.
  • Why: A bio stimulate helps the plants' overall health, and the root activator gives the roots a kick-start with what they need to wake up and start growing as soon as possible.
  • 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 need additional soil to top off the pot.
  • What: A good, well-balanced, and well-draining soil. I prefer to use soil without added fertilizer and a good decomposed natural mulch without additives.
  • What we suggest: ProMix BX Mycorrhizae or similar soil mix (especially to start the season or a mixture of 1/3 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, 1/3 coir, and 1/3 Perlite - horticultural grade.) or a similar soil mix.
  • How: 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. I also like to 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.
    Caution: Always sterilize any soil that had dead plants.
  • Why: The goal is to provide fresh soil to add back depleted nutrients. Fresh soil provides aeration, retains moisture, and adds back nutrients that were washed out or used up by the plumeria. Over time, the organic materials that the soilless mix is made from the breakdown and decompose to the point where you will lose the drainage and aeration properties inherent in soilless container media. When that happens, discard the old soil to the compost pile or the garden and refill the container with fresh soil mix.
  • Mulching - in-ground plants – use a decomposed mulch to add nutrients and organic matter as the mulch decomposes. The mulch on the top also helps keep weeds down and helps retain moisture. I cover the ground around the trunk with natural mulch partially decomposed up to 12” deep each year for plumeria planted or plunged in the ground. Allow several inches of distance around the trunk to minimize trunk rot.
  • Watering – Always water well for the next two or three days. Then water when the soil is almost dry. A moisture meter is good tool to have.

Fertilizing – Granular

  • When:   At the beginning of the growing season.
  • What: Use a balanced granular slow-release fertilizer with micronutrients.
  • What we suggest: 
    • Excalibur VI for areas with a growing seasons of 5-7 months (6-month NPK of 11-11-14) with micronutrients designed specifically for Plumeria
    • Excalibur IX for areas with a growing season of 8-10 months (9-month NPK 11-11-13)  with micronutrients designed specifically for Plumeria
    • Excalibur BOOST for time when you need fertilizer at different time during the growing season. (2-3 month NPK 10-12-14) with micronutrients designed for use when transplanting, after grafting, when your plumeria are stressed and it works great on seedlings when first transplanted into pots.
  • How: Mix in with the soil, usually in the top 1”- 2” and water well.
  • Why: Granular fertilizer is designed to feed your plumeria from the roots. Healthy roots ultimately produce healthy plants. We have found that a balanced NPK fertilizer with micronutrients produces very healthy growth, promotes blooming, bloom size, and seed production. It is imperative not to add any fertilizer high in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or anything else unless you know your plumeria needs it.

Foliage Fertilizing – Thru out the growing season.

  • When: When your plumeria looks stressed from damage, insects, drought or after a heavy rain event. I also spray a couple of days before an event when we want our plumeria to look their best for the guest.
  • 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 with fertilizers or similar fertilizers.
  • How: Foliar feeding or drench.
  • Why: This is used to improve the overall health from the top down and give the leaves and blooms nutrients during stressful times.