Growing Plumerias in Davis!
Plumeria are tropical flowering trees. They grow outdoors from
April through October, but need protection from November through March. They
are naturally dormant during the winter months, during which time they can
basically be stored, requiring little in the way of light or water.
Plumeria are best grown here in containers, although you may wish
to sink those in the ground in the summer to make it easier to keep them
watered. They need lots of sun (or at least bright light), food, and water
during the summer. Plumeria cannot
tolerate wet feet, so they must be planted in fast draining soil such as cactus
mix or a potting soil containing added pumice or perlite.
In the Spring
When night temperatures stay above 50F, plumeria can be brought
out of their winter storage and moved outside. Expect some root loss and drying
of branches during dormancy.
This is the time to feed, water, and/or repot. Apply a fertilizer
such as Osmocote or water-soluble products such as Schulz'es.
Place the plant in a warm and sunny location. Some people like to
sink the container in the ground. This promotes more vigorous growth, provides
support, and prevents it from blowing over (plumeria tops are fragile)
In the Summer
Many will bloom before developing leaves, others will not.
Continue fertilizing through the summer, following label directions. Plants in
above-ground containers may need thorough watering as often as twice a week.
Drooping leaves can indicate a thirsty plant. Poke your finger in to check the
soil before watering. If it's dry for the first couple of inches, water it
Certain varieties of plumeria won't flower well in extreme heat.
If this appears to be a problem, move the plant into a bright shady location
– under a high shade tree or arbor, or to the east side of the house. As
the days begin to grow shorter some lower leaves may yellow and drop.
Some varieties will attempt a fall bloom cycle. Plumeria can still
be blooming into November and December! But an early frost can damage or kill
the plant if you leave it outside.
In the Fall
Around the first of October, stop feeding and reduce water to
encourage the plant to go into its natural dormant period. If temperatures are
expected to fall into the 30s, the plant should be protected. Many varieties
can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 30s or upper 20s, even for
a few hours.
In the Winter
Plumeria require very little care in winter except protection from
cold. You are mostly just storing them. One grower suggests removing the
Before storage, the plumeria should be defoliated. To date,
the best technique for this is to cut each and every leaf off the plant at a
point about one inch out from the stem. If you do not defoliate, the leaves
will yellow and fall off during storage, and provide a good environment for
pests and fungus as well as make a mess.
Store the plant in a cool, dry, dark, and ventilated area such as
a garage or storage shed where temperatures don't fall below freezing.
Greenhouses are not suitable as they may prompt new growth too early. Watering
once a month helps prevent the branches from desiccating.
© 2008 Don Shor, Redwood Barn Nursery, Inc., 1607 Fifth Street, Davis, Ca 95616
Feel free to copy and distribute this article with attribution to this author.
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