Plumeria: A Complete Guide for Indoor Care and Growth

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Plumeria flowers are popular in many parts of the world. They are also known as Frangipani and are members of the Dogbane family. This small, tropical, flowering tree is native to Brazil, South and Central America, Mexico, and The Caribbean. Places like Hawaii, the Greek Islands, and the Italian island of Sicily are also abundant in plumeria trees.

In Hawaii, the Plumeria flower is called the Hawaiian lei flower. They are used to create the iconic Hawaiian flower crown, locally known as the lei or Haku lei.

Plumerias are aromatic plants, which may also explain why they are frequently placed in health spas worldwide. Many businesses even use these flowers for their logos!

Plumeria flowers grow five broad petals that come in various colors and color combinations. The plumeria’s aroma, plus its flower’s simple yet attractive appearance, has cemented its popularity among flower and gardening enthusiasts.

In short, the plumeria’s pleasant fragrance and vibrant colors make it an excellent addition to anybody’s home.

Can Plumeria Be Grown At Home?

purity-white-plumeria

Yes, of course. But, like many indoor plants, growing a Plumeria requires commitment and a careful hand.

Many people like to acquire their plumerias by visiting countries or places where people cultivate the plants. While these plants are not classified as endangered, make sure to double-check your country or state’s policies and regulations for importing flora.

For the casual gardener, the most convenient way to get a plumeria plant is to order it online. Some local home improvement stores also stock plumerias and their seeds.

Basic Indoor Plumeria Needs

Growing a tropical plant indoors may sound tricky, especially for people who live in colder, dryer environments, but it’s possible. If anything, people who live in colder climates are better off keeping their plumerias indoors for better temperature control.

Read on to learn how to keep your plumerias alive indoors.

Sunlight

Plumerias thrive under full sunlight and may not produce flowers without the right amount. Ensure you give your plant at least six hours of it, although it can also tolerate partial sun and some shade. Placing them near south-facing windows is ideal.

Temperature

As they are native to warmer climates, you need to ensure your room is 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Plumeria plants may have a hard time thriving in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If your plumeria’s leaves have turned yellow and are dropping, it means it has gotten too cold and will enter dormancy.

Plumerias aren’t adverse to extreme temperatures, though. This plant may not tolerate frigid weather, but it can survive in tremendously hot temperatures.

Water and Humidity for Plumeria

Closeup shot of a beautiful white plumeria

Plumerias love water, and it’s best to water them deeply. However, you must take care not to overwater, though, as this will cause root rot and kill your plumeria through lack of oxygen.

Allow its soil to dry completely in between waterings. If the top one inch of its soil is still moist to the touch, you don’t need to water it yet. It would be best if you drained its pot once a week too.

Because they are tropical plants, plumerias need some humidity to thrive, but not too much. Around 40 to 50% humidity is okay. If you live in a dry place, mist your plumerias regularly to emulate a humid environment.

Containers

For containers, avoid clay pots and opt for a black nursery container with holes for drainage instead. Clay pots may be popular for indoor use, but clay is porous and absorbs much-needed moisture right away.

Soil Needs of Plumeria

You should avoid using fine potting mixes that hold water and take too long to drain. Instead, use coarse, well-draining soil. Moreover, make sure to choose something slightly acidic. Go for soils that are in the 6.4 to 6.8 pH range.

How to Grow Plumeria Seeds for Transplant

growing plumeria

Step 1: Choose the Right Seeds

There’s a good reason why some people go out of their way to buy plumerias directly from the source. Buying seeds online may be convenient, but often, seeds are not newly harvested or in good condition.

Thus, seasoned gardeners recommend checking its information and asking for details from the seller. You can also determine if seeds are new or old by the time frame it takes to germinate. If they take a longer time to germinate, the seeds are old.

Another detail to consider is what type of plumeria you want to grow. This selection process will let you choose a parent plant with the same characteristics you desire.

Step 2: Moisten Your Plumeria Seeds

Start the process by placing your seeds in tissue paper and spray them with water. Make sure the tissue paper containing the seeds is well-moistened. Allow it to soak in a warm environment for at least four hours, but no longer than 24 to avoid damaging it.

You can tell a seed is ready for sowing once its thickest part appears swollen.

Step 3: Prepare Your Potting Mix

As mentioned above, plumerias do best in well-draining soil. Coarse soils like a cactus mix are ideal, but you can also create a mix by combining equal amounts of perlite and peat. Experts also recommend mixing vitamins and a root activator into the soil.

For a cost-effective alternative to using cultivation pods, you can reuse water bottles. Choose bottles that are at least 500 ml in size and clean them well before using. Make sure to punch enough holes into the bottom to allow good drainage.

Step 4: Plant Your Moistened Plumeria Seeds

Dampen your potting mix or peat moss before planting, and plant your seeds while they are still moist. Make sure the hole you create for your seed is not too shallow. Around 0.2 inches or 5 mm is a good depth to start.

When placing your seed in the soil, make sure to position it correctly. Its winged part must be sticking out of the soil and its swollen section embedded in the dirt.

Step 5: Prepare Ideal Growing Conditions and Germinate Your Seeds

Create the best environment for your seeds by placing your pods or bottles into a plastic container and covering it. Leave it in a warm area with sufficient but indirect sunlight to imitate a greenhouse.

Constantly check its soil for moisture. Ideally, water your pods 2 to 3 times daily to ensure it is constantly moist, but not enough to drown the seeds.

As mentioned in step 1, how fast a seed will germinate depends on how new it is. Germination can vary from 1 week to as long as a month after sowing.

During this time frame, be vigilant of mold and husk growth. It’s best to immediately treat any mold you find with a mild fungicide. Husks, meanwhile, usually fall off on their own. If they take too long, spray the husks with water and gently take them off. Leaving husks on any sprouts can cause your seedlings to rot.

Wait until your plumeria is around three inches tall, with at least three to four leaves and a few roots sticking out before transplanting your seedlings into pots.

Step 6: Transplant From Pod to Pot

Once ready, transfer your seedlings to a larger container with adequate drainage using the correct soil type. Add peat moss to help your seedlings hold on to any nutrients. You can also include a slow-release fertilizer to assist your seedling’s growth.

Water it daily for the first two days, taking care not to drown your plant. Then, reduce waterings to when the soil feels barely moist.

Step 7: Gradually Introduce To Direct Sunlight

plumeria under the sun

Plumerias bask under full sun. But, while young, sunlight needs to be introduced gradually by increasing exposure little by little each day.

One week is a sufficient timeframe to shift from shady conditions to direct sunlight.

How To Grow Plumeria From Cuttings

If you are looking to grow your plumeria collection or gift plumerias to your friends, propagating them from cuttings is an excellent way to do it.

When To Take and Root Plumeria Cuttings

Spring and summer are the best seasons for taking plumeria cuttings for propagation. Summertime is also the best time to root your plumerias, mainly because it is hot and humid.

Just make sure not to take your cuttings a little too late when the summer is approaching fall, as the plant will not take root. At this time of year, your plumeria is already preparing to go dormant for the winter.

How to Root Plumeria Cuttings in the Winter

When you take cuttings too late in the summer, they might not grow roots. However, you can still work around it.

You can overwinter your cuttings so you can root them in the spring through proper storage. Leave your cuttings planted in a pot, but keep your soil mostly dry throughout the winter. Mist the soil every so often, but do not overdo it.

Once early springtime arrives, you can finally encourage roots by watering your plant thoroughly.

Additional Tips for Cutting and Rooting Plumeria

Once you’ve taken your plumeria cuttings, take not of the following to help them take root and prepare them for pruning:

  • The desired length of your cuttings is what matters, not where you cut them. The sweet spot is around 12 to 18 inches long.
  • Make sure to use a pair of sharp pruners. Don’t forget to sterilize them for a clean cut.
  • You should ideally wait seven days before planting your cutting to give it time to cure and harden.
  • Take note that plumerias are sensitive to tip rot. Make sure to angle your cut downwards to avoid water from settling into its tip.

Supplies You May Need

  • Clean pot with a 4” size
  • Plant rooting hormone
  • Soil for propagation. You can use a succulent soil mix or mix coarse sand, potting soil, and perlite to create a soil mixture.
  • Cured plumeria cuttings

Growing Plumeria From Cuttings

pink Plumeria

For a high chance of successfully growing your plumerias, follow these steps:

Step 1: Remove remaining leaves

Snip off any remaining leaves from the cutting. Doing so will let your plant focus on its new growing roots instead of supporting any existing leaves.

Step 2: Prepare the tip

Make sure to let the cutting dry out before attempting to root it. Do not skip this crucial step, or else you risk rotting your plumeria cutting. You can also dust the cut end with plant rooting hormone to help speed up root formation.

Place your cuttings in a dry place until their tips are entirely cured and hardened. Hardened plumerias will do better against infections.

Step 3: Prepare its container

Choose the correct pot size for your plumerias to avoid them being root-bound. Also, select a container with sufficient drainage holes. Before planting, make sure your pot is completely clean to avoid contaminating it.

Step 4: Plant and water your cutting

Use your finger or a pencil to create an indent in the potting mix for your cutting. This indent will ensure the rooting hormone does not rub off when pushing your cutting into the soil. Push your plumeria deep enough that it can stand on its own.

Pack the potting mix firmly around your cutting and water the soil heavily until water comes out of the drainage holes. Discard the water in your container’s drip tray.

Place your planted cutting in a humid area and wait for its roots to appear.

Extra Tips for Keeping Your Plumerias Thriving

Tip 1: Give it fertilizer every one-to-three weeks.

To successfully get your plumerias to bloom, especially indoors, feed them a phosphorous-heavy fertilizer around once a week. But be careful not to overfeed it to keep its soil within the proper pH range. To remedy raising your soil’s acidity level, add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to your soil once a month.

You can also spray your plumeria’s leaves with liquid fertilizer, like foliar spray, during spring and summer to give it the nutrients it needs to grow beautifully.

Tip 2: Prune your plumeria and remove dead branches.

Make sure to clean your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol before and throughout pruning your plumeria.

Pruning your plumeria will help prevent diseases that may spread or cause the branches to stop growing. You must cut your plant at the source of its disease. Sap oozing out of a cut signifies a healthy branch.

It is also a way to manage your plant’s size, especially when grown as an indoor plant. Which parts you trim will affect the shape your plumeria will grow into. Pruning the top will make your plumeria grow in width.

Only prune your plumeria during the winter or early spring so as not to disrupt its blooming schedule.

Tip 3: Immediately use horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps if your plumeria is infested.

Spray light horticultural oil or another mild insecticide on your plant if flies and mites have infested it — 1% of the oil solution will keep the pests at bay. But, make sure not to overexpose your plant with too much heat before spraying it with the oil.

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Plumeria

Falling and stunted leaves may be a perfectly normal situation and is just a matter of your plumeria’s dormancy period getting closer. You can prepare your plant for the winter season by providing it with artificial light and keeping it away from frost.

If it is any other season and your plumeria is not growing any new plants, you might want to consider repotting it.

However, if you see any signs of yellowing around the leaves or if the leaves start dropping during the growing season, it might be due to soil exhaustion and over-fertilization. You can quickly solve this by showering the soil thoroughly to eliminate excess salt deposits.

If your plumeria’s leaves look deformed, this may be a sign of stress. Plants experience stress when there is an insect infestation, damage in the root system, or if you recently relocated your plants.

If you see no insects around the plant, try replanting it.

If you can find a sticky substance on your plumeria leaves, as well as white, woolly masses on its underside, mealybugs may be present. Mealybugs produce honeydew that makes its leaves sticky.

These creatures are sap-sucking pests, which may also stunt your plumeria and cause its leaves to grow warped. To fight this, spray your plants with neem oil.

Black spots on your plumerias may be a sign of fungal infections like blacktip fungus, Plumeria rust, or sooty mold. Pests and poor environmental conditions may also cause it.

If you find fungal infections, stop watering your plants for a while and trim off all affected leaves. Then, expose your plumeria to a lot of sunlight and spray its soil with a fungicide solution.

You can quickly remedy a pest infestation by rubbing or spraying the leaves with a mild insecticide.

Some plants may take longer to grow new leaves during the rooting process. Around two months is a typical timeframe for plumeria cuttings to form new leaf growth, so patience is needed. If you want to try speeding up the process, you raise your room’s temperature to provide your plant a hotter environment.

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