Perfect Plumeria

Pink Plumeria

Pink Plumeria

There is no more perfect plant to me than the plumeria.  I always tell people that I don’t want a plant in my garden unless it blooms — unless it is a palm tree or bamboo.  The plumeria has everything that I want in a plant — color, beauty, fragrance, ease of care, and cool-looking foliage.  Plumerias are the plants from which Hawaii’s leis are made and they smell UNBELIEVABLE.

Plumeria cuttings One of my favorite things to do when visiting Hawaii is to pick up some plumeria cuttings from any of the ABC Stores.  ABC Stores are really the epitome of a tourist joint, but I love that they have these cuttings.  (You can also buy them online, but I like saying I actually GOT them in Hawaii.)  They are inexpensive and easy to pack, and they go very nicely through customs.  They come in this little sack and it just looks like a foot-long stick.  You just cram it into the ground or a pot and watch it grow.  (Hey, look!  One of them even has a bit of fertilzer packed right in!)

Plumeria cuttings in potI planted these in a pot, but will eventually transfer them to the garden.  I just can’t find a spot for them right now — but I will!  I have one of each color:  red, pink, white, yellow, rainbow and burgundy.  Some of them I have never seen before (nor do I know their actual name — which is the drawback of buying them this way, but truly — I don’t really care that much about that.  At least until they bloom.  Then I’ll do some research and find out.)

I didn’t realize it, but the plumeria is also called  “frangipani”.  My mom used to buy these unbelievable smelling candles at Christma time with the frangipani scent.  I had been unable to find this scent, but then somehow discovered that these two plants are one and the same.  Who knew??  Now, when I look for scented candles I try to find a “plumeria” scented one.

Candy Stripe Plumeria

“Candy Stripe” Plumeria

Plumerias are native to New Zealand, South America, Mexico, etc. — you know, a lot of places “down south.”  They are NOT a native Hawaiian plant as very few plants are native to Hawaii — they have all been brought over from visitors.  However, you will see these everywhere, like they were meant to be there.  And they are.  And, they are also meant to be in MY yard.

Plumeria cuttings will bloom most likely the second year from the “stick” that you buy in Hawaii.   I’ve rarely had one bloom the first year, but it does happen.   However, I think that potted plants that you can buy at Houston Garden or any other nursery might bloom that year.  I don’t know because I haven’t tried.  However, once the plumeria blooms, it goes on, and on, and on…..  and the scent is remarkable!  This plumeria is called “Candy Stripe”.   It’s one of my faves.

Kauka Wilder Red Plumeria

“Kauka Wilder” Plumeria

This plumeria is a red one that I also got in Hawaii.  When I bought it, it was just labeled “Red Plumeria”, but after a bit of research I discovered that the name of it is really “Kauka Wilder.”  Unfortunately, Ms. Wilder passed away in the harsh frost we had a few years back, and I didn’t know at that point how to overwinter it.  It made me very, very, sad.  I’ve since discovered that you can easily overwinter these plants by just digging them from the ground and stashing them somewhere in your garage.  That is it.  They won’t need any water or sunshine or any care at all.  It’s amazing, but it’s true.  I guess it would make sense because they hang around in their bags at the ABC Stores for months at a time until someone buys them and takes them home.  Weird.  But on this last trip to Hawaii I bought another because it is GORGEOUS.  Hopefully it’s the same one. Hawaii's Red Plumeria

I’ve found that my plumerias don’t like the direct Houston sun.  They seem to do better if they are out of the sun a bit, but not completely shaded.  They do love the humidity, though.  I think that you could probably grow these in Seattle, as well — just make sure they get plenty of the sun when it comes out.  Or, depending upon the Seattle weather, you may just end up with the same stick — but maybe you Seattleites can try it out and see.

Plumerias won’t create “branches” from the “stick” until they bloom.   You can see by this photo that this plumeria will bloom soon.  It blooms off of a shoot that comes out of the middle of the “stick.”
Plumeria stalk
Once it blooms, the plumeria will branch out…  Plumeria branches…and create a larger plant, eventually becoming a tree.  You may find you will have to stake it a bit if it gets too tall — and also you may want to transplant it to a larger pot or to the garden — because your pot will fall over if it is not large enough.  But, like I said, they are easy to transplant and remove — this is because they have a shallow root system.
Plumeria plant
You can also easily propogate a plumeria by simply cutting off on of the branches so that you have a “stick” of about 12″, letting it dry several days in the garage (so that the white milky stuff that comes from it is dried up and the end has “healed over”), and then planting it into a pot or the ground.  Plumerias love to be fertilized, so feed them well!  There is even specialized plumeria fertilizer — just pick some up at good old Home Depot.
OVERWINTERING plumeria is easy:  You can take the the plant out of the pot or ground, shake off the soil, and throw it in the corner of your garage.  That is IT.  Once winter passes, put it back into the ground or pot.  (Be sure the garage doesn’t freeze, however, or it will be just like it was outside.)

Once you get your first plumeria, you will be hooked.  I am!  And, I don’t care who knows!

Perfect Plumeria




Perfect Plumeria — 10 Comments

  1. I live in Central Florida & am trying to grow a plumeria plant & a bird of paradise plant as well. I am in a quandary as to whether coffee grounds are good for both of these plants. Can you please shed some light on this for me? Thank you for your help!!

  2. Are coffee grounds beneficial to bird of paradise and plumeria plants? How about rice water( from washing white rice)?

    • Hi, Kaylynn! Thanks for writing! I have had some plumerias that don’t bloom every year, and it can be because of the location in the garden (or on the deck for my potted ones). They like lots of sun, so move it into direct sunlight. They also like to be fertilized. Use a balanced fertilizer or one with a larger number in the middle of the fertilizer analysis, such as 10-50-10 (higher in Phosphorus). Do you live in a colder part of the country? It could be that it may not have gotten enough sun last year.

  3. I have a plumeria that has grown taller than me. I has four stalks on top, and it looks like it might actually bloom after 3-4 years. The problem is that it is too tall for my house now. Is it possible to chop off the top 5 feet and get that portion to root? I don’t want to hurt the plant. I can send pictures, if you would like. Thank you.

    • Hi, Judy! I would love to see a photo. I will send a note to your email with my email address. It’s a good possibility that you can do this. If not, you can cut off the branches separately and plant them in the ground or another pot and see how they do. Then, you can plant the stalk. I would definitely at least cut off a few of the branches and plant them just to make sure you have extra plants. I hope this helps!

  4. My Plumeria tree grows like a weed. It is right next to my Azaleas. Loves it there. It loves water. Another not planted there and doesn’t get as much water is still just a stick So my big clue is they love water and azalea ground.

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