Plumeria, the Frangipani, also known as the Temple Trees and Lei flower, is native to warm tropical areas of the Pacific Islands, Caribbean, South America and Mexico. The mixture I offer is harvested from pink, red, white and yellow flowered hybrids. Plumeria are a true tropical flowering tree. In the tropics it can grow to heights over ten meters.
The tree is best known for its showy clusters of waxy flowers produced over a long period in Summer. These flowers are treasured by the Polynesian Islanders for their durability, fragrances and colors of whites, yellows, pinks, reds, and multiple pastels. Many will bloom before developing leaves, others will not. Plumeria flowers have five petals, although flowers with four, six, seven or more petals are not uncommon. Some types of flowers do not fully open and are referred to as shell, semi-shell, or tulip like. Most flowers have a strong pleasant fragrance that is most intense during the early part of the day. There is absolutely nothing like the sweet fragrance of Plumeria in flower, with fragrances of jasmine, citrus, spices, gardenia, and other indescribable scents. Flowering can last up to 3 months at a time producing new blooms everyday. Once picked, a bloom can last for several days without wilting if kept in water.
Plumeria leaves are deciduous, green, large and shiny. However, when examined closely, they can exhibit remarkable color variation that is species and variety dependent. The Plumeria branch tip is where new growth including leaves and flowers occur. The branch and its tip are interesting, since the tip is usually the same diameter as the rest of the branch.
Hardiness zones 11, (4øC/40øF) in Winter. Since Plumeria have a natural dormant period, this can correspond very conveniently to an indoor storage period during the Winter months. Before storage, the Plumeria should be defoliated. 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.
In colder climates Plumeria should be grown in containers. They make beautiful potted plants for the patio or greenhouse. Store the Plumeria in a cool, dry, dark, and ventilated area such as a garage or storage shed. Temperatures should not be allowed to fall below freezing in the storage area. By all means, if temperatures are expected to Fall into the 30søF, the plant should be protected. Many varieties can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 30s, even for a few hours. During exceptionally cold periods, a small supplemental heater may be required. During the Winter, Plumeria require very little care. As soon as temperatures rise outdoors they can be brought out. They will resume growth, leaf out and begin to grow as if nothing happened. However, in milder climates, Plumeria can be grown outdoors in the ground, where they make a small beautiful landscape trees.
Plumeria can be grown in containers, in the ground, or in containers sunk in the ground. For container planting use a coarse, well draining potting soil, such as potting mix with perlite and sand. Plumeria are heavy feeders and will bloom and grow vigorously with an ample amount of the proper foods. However, in order to discourage excessive stem elongation and to promote flowering, fertilizers low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous are recommended. Plumerias should be fed in Spring when growth begins, every 2 to 3 weeks through the end of August. In the Fall, stop feeding and reduce water to encourage the plant to go into its natural dormant period.
Grow them on in full light, with good ventilation in a outside, in a greenhouse or even a sunny window. During the months of active growth, ample sun, food and water are essential. Healthy Plumeria will bloom regularly and profusely when they receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day.
Plumeria love lots of water, but cannot tolerate wet feet, so they must be planted in fast draining soil or in beds with adequate drainage. Water Plumerias deeply, let soil dry out somewhat before watering again. Begin to reduce the frequency of watering in mid-October, as the cool season approaches. Water moderately at all times, but in Winter, after the leaves have fallen, keep the plants nearly dry until Spring when moderate rewatering can commence. In Winter, a small monthly drink probably does more good than harm.