How to Grow Gorgeous Plumeria
If you’ve ever vacationed in Hawaii and were fortunate enough to be graced with a traditional lei, you’re familiar with plumeria flowers. And while you may not have known what these flowers were called, there’s little chance you’ve forgotten their exotic beauty and intoxicating scent. The good news is that you can have a little slice of Hawaii in your garden, too — and we’re going to show you how.
Plumeria Varieties We Love
First- start with a plant that's ready to grow! All of our plumeria are shipped fully rooted in a 4” pot, with a 12-16” height and will start growing immediately. They are sustainably harvested off of mature plants, so you won't have to wait years for a bloom.
Not sure which color to choose? Here are some ideas:
Solid colors: Red plumeria features solid blooms in a vivid lipstick shade, while our Yellow plumeria offers a more subtle buttery tone.
Two-toned: We love White plumeria with its creamy petals and delicate yellow throats, and Yellow and White for the same (but slightly stronger) color combo.
- Multicolored: Looking for multiple petal colors but still want to stay on the subtle side? Rainbow plumeria kicks it up a notch by fusing bright shades of pink, yellow, orange, and white, while Pink Rainbow goes all out with a riot of hot pink, yellow, white, and orange.
How to Grow Plumeria Outside
Growth: Depending upon the variety and where they are grown, the height of these small trees can be anywhere from 3’ – 30’. For most frost-free areas, though, expect plumeria growing in ground to reach 12-15’ and plumeria growing in containers to reach 3-5'.
Light: The more sunlight, the better for these lovelies! Plan for full sun in order to get the best blooms.
Water: Contrary to popular opinion, plumeria are not water hogs. While they need moderate watering, they don’t like to be soggy or waterlogged and are actually fairly drought tolerant (though container-grown plumeria needs more water than those planted in the ground). Water thoroughly, then let them dry out a bit before watering again — but remember, if you let them get bone dry, you’ll likely sacrifice a few blooms.
Soil: Give plumeria well-drained soil during the growing season. If you’re growing in a container, make sure the drainage hole is not clogged to ensure the soil is able to freely drain.
Fertilizing: You’ll want to reach for a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (that’s the middle number on the fertilizer label) to encourage healthy blooms, so if you’re using granular fertilizer, make sure that middle number is at least a 20. And beware —if you choose fertilizer that is high in nitrogen (the first number on the label), you’ll wind up with lots of foliage but little bloom.
Bloom Time: Summer to early fall
- USDA Hardiness Zones: Zones 10-11. If you live in one of these very warm zones, go ahead and plant them in the ground, but if you live in zones 9 or lower, it’s best to plant them in containers so you can easily protect them in the fall and winter. As the weather turns a little chilly, they’ll hang in there if the temperature doesn’t drop below 40 degrees. If you expect lower temperatures than that, you’ll need to protect them or bring them inside — and the entire next section is for you!
How to Grow Plumeria Inside
If the weather turns chilly in your area, there are simple ways to overwinter your plumeria so you can continue to enjoy their tropical beauty again next year! It’s easy when you follow these steps:
- Once the temperatures routinely get into the 40s, bring your plumeria containers inside. If you have just a couple containers, your living room is just fine, but if you have a lot, then consider your garage, sunroom, greenhouse, or even a closet.
- Plumeria do not need light or water when they are dormant, so don’t worry about either of these during overwintering. If you’re worried about younger plants during dormancy, you can give them about 1 cup of water per month, but no more.
- Air circulation is key to avoid pests and disease, so be sure to give each container enough storage space — no crowding, please!
- Flowers and leaves will fall off during dormancy; don’t worry, this is normal.
- If you are overwintering in your garage and the floor is cold, consider putting your plumeria pots on a stand, as the cold from the concrete floor can quickly damage the roots.
- At the first sign of growth in late winter or early spring, place it by a bright window and resume watering and fertilizing. Gradually move it outdoors on sunny days while bringing it inside at nighttime, and when warm weather is here to stay for the season, you can confidently leave it outside.
- Katie Elzer-Peters