How To Germinate and Care for Plumeria Seeds and Seedlings

Plumeria Seeds

When germinating plumeria seeds at home or in a greenhouse, the first thing to remember is plumeria seeds may be started indoors, but should be transplanted and moved to a location that provides plenty of light as soon as it has 3 or 4 real leaves. Leaving a seedling in small containers may result in disrupted growth, which can lead to unfavorable results. However, starting plumeria indoors is a great way to get an early jump on the outdoor growing season. When choosing a medium in which to germinate plumeria seeds, look for one that says something along the lines of, “seed starting mix.” This type of growing medium will likely have a moderate elemental fertilizer charge, which will benefit the newly sprouted seedlings. Seeds can be germinated in many different styles of trays and containers, so choose the type that best fits your space needs. If starting just a few seeds, a simple, flat starting tray or small individual containers will work great. When planting many seeds at once, it may be wise to use trays that are divided into separate growing chambers. This will cut down on the amount of transplanting needed as the plants grow. Remember, all a plumeria seed needs to germinate is warm temperatures and moisture. Some growers do use heat pads underneath the starting trays. Most plumeria seeds will germinate at temperatures between 65-90 degrees Fahrenheit and the added warmth in the growing medium can speed up the germination process. Using supplemental lighting, like a T5 fluorescent bulb, can also help provide extra heat. Though seeds may not need light in order to germinate, the seedling will need light, so having a light source ready is a good idea. I would use caution when starting seeds in a bright window sill because direct sunlight through glass can alter the intensity and the seedlings may stretch and become ‘leggy.’ (There are many good plumeria seed germination methods, I suggest you research each one and use the one or ones that fit you situation.)

When preparing to germinate seeds indoors it is a good idea to soak the seeds overnight or at least 4 hours in a warm place. Also moistening the growing medium before planting any seeds. This will help to ensure that the medium is not over saturated or water logged and that the moisture is spread evenly throughout. Using a tray, spread the seeds so they have about an inch between each, this will help minimize the root damage when transplanting.  I have found using plugs is much easier to handle and preserves the roots when transplanting. There are many good planting methods and you should examine each to see which fits your situation and may help result in higher germination rates. If planting is occurring in a flat starting tray, space seeds at least an inch apart, either in rows or in a grid pattern and cover lightly with 1/4″ of growing medium (remember oxygen is important during germination, so don’t pack the medium down to much). Then, spray the entire tray lightly with a hand held mister. The soil should be kept moist not wet long enough for the seeds to germinate, it may need to be sprayed with the mister occasionally to maintain even distribution of moisture. Some growers use starting trays that have plastic, hood-type lids. This will keep the humidity around the seeds at higher than average room levels and may help increase the chance of successful germination. Be sure to check the seeds daily to maintain an optimal environment.

Environmental Considerations

As the plumeria seedlings begin to pop up through the soil, there are a few environmental aspects that should be given proper attention right away: light intensity, humidity, and air flow. Remember the seeds of different cultivars may germinate in different lengths of time. Usually plumeria seeds will germinate in 5-10 days, but I have seen it take up to 30 days if conditions aren’t right. Plumeria seeds can sprout in total darkness, but, once the seedling breaches the soil, a sufficient light source is imperative. Those first “true leafs” will need a light source to perform photosynthesis and create carbohydrates, which will help sustain both normal plant growth and, most importantly, root growth. Without proper lighting, the early vegetative growth of a plant can be negatively affected and could cause long lasting problems.

Humidity can be helpful during the initial germination process but, as the seedlings begin to grow, high levels of humidity can spell disaster. As internal process burn up the seedlings energy sources, the plants will need to release oxygen as a gas through their stomata (a process called transpiration). As the oxygen leaves the plant, water and elemental nutrients are pulled up through the roots. In a humid environment, the stomata will remain closed and the roots will not take in water. If the growing medium is wet without proper aeration, the water will have nowhere to go and the roots will likely suffocate and die.

Air flow and humidity almost go hand in hand. A nice flow of air through the plants canopy will encourage the flow of carbon dioxide to the leaves and, subsequently, oxygen away from them. This is not just true for seedlings, but for plants in all stages of growth. A small fan on medium or low can help keep humidity levels low and the heat from any supplemental lighting to a minimum. Be sure to keep the rooting medium moist, but not too wet. Seedlings need water and going to long without can result in serious damage. However, if the medium remains too wet for too long it may impair root growth. As the seedlings grow, they will eventually exhaust any nutrient charge that the growing medium had to offer, so light fertilization may be needed while waiting to transplant into a different container.

As the seedlings grow, with proper care and attention, they inch closer and closer to fulfilling their own unique destiny. Every plumeria seeds has it’s own DNA structure and will not be exactly like any other. As we stand by, eagerly awaiting the flowers of our labor, it is important to remember that every plumeria we grow has entered into this life as a small, almost insignificant looking thing, that so many refer to as simply, just a seed.

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Plumeria Care Regimen

I would like to share our vision of the best possible regiment, SO FAR, for our plumeria growing in South Florida. I hope the following helps you with your goals and plans for 2017.

The goal is to know what, when and why, so you can improve every year by giving your plumeria the best growing environment. Making a plan and documenting all adjustments will allow you to look back and hopefully determine where you can make improves.

Before the season starts we always examine what we did last year and try and determine how we can improve our methods and products. The following is an outline of what we’re planning for our 2017 Care Regiment at Florida Colors. Please keep in mind your growing environment and how it differs from South Florida Zone 10B. The start of your plan should correspond to when you are past the threat of a frost or freeze. You should also make a plan to protect you plumeria from cold weather, just in case you get caught.

How air temperature affects plants

Most biological processes will speed up at higher temperatures, and this can have both positive and negative effects. For example, faster growth or fruit production is one benefit, in most cases. However, the excessive respiration that occurs is adverse because it means that there is less energy for fruit development and the fruits will be smaller. Some effects are short term, while others are longer term. The plant’s assimilation balance, for example, is influenced by the temperature and is affected immediately. Flower induction, on the other hand, is determined by the climate over a much longer period.

Plumeria Care

How To Take Care Of Your Plumeria / Frangipani

Plumeria, also known as Frangipani or Hawaiian lei flower, is an exotic tropical plant that is easy to grow. It can be easily maintained as a small tree grown in a container on the patio or in the garden. 

Sun Requirements

Plumeria love sun, the more the better. Plumeria require at least 6 to 8 hours of sun to produce blooms. Plumeria will not produce bloom stems (inflorescence) without adequate sun exposure. Full sun (sunup to sundown) is BEST. Mature plants bloom from May through November, depending on where you live and the length of your growing season.

Plumeria can be grown in containers, in the ground, or containers sunk in the ground. During the months of active growth, ample sun, food, and water are essential. Healthy plumeria will grow vigorously and bloom regularly and profusely when they receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day and an ample amount of the proper fertilizers.

Water Requirements

Plumeria love lots of water, but can’t tolerate wet feet, so they must be planted in highly organic fast draining soil or in beds with adequate drainage. Clay, gumbo, and silt are examples of poor draining soils; avoid these at all costs. Plumeria love water but they need to dry out between watering. Plumeria can withstand extended periods of being dry. Small pots may need to be watered daily, while Large pots or those in the ground may not need it as often, whatever works best for you. They get used to the conditions they find themselves in. If in doubt, drier is better than wetter. Never use a saucer under your plants. Purchase a moisture meter and check your plants often until you get to know their water needs in your yard. 

Insects & Disease

Plumeria have very few problems. Spider Mites, White Flies, Mealy Bugs and Scale will attack plants left too dry and/or in too much shade. Spray with liquid dish washing soap (Dawn, Sunlight, etc.) at 1-2 tablespoons/gallon or chemicals suggested for these insects. Plumeria occasionally get a "rust" fungus on the leaves in the fall, but it is rarely very harmful because the plants start to lose their leaves about the same time. "Rust" is always the result of not enough air circulation combined with too much moisture on the leaves.

Growing and Storage

The way you care for your plumeria depends on the season of the year. Bring your plants out of storage in the spring, watch them grow and bloom in the summer, prepare for dormancy and storage in the fall, and store them for the winter. Plants may be left outside if there is no damage of frost of freeze. If your nighttime temps are below 40°F you should protect you plumeria from frost.


When the nighttime temperatures begin to remain above 55°F, plumeria can be brought out of winter storage and encouraged out of dormancy. Due to conditions of storage, some root loss and desiccation of branches is expected, this is no cause for alarm. This is the time to feed, water, top dress, and/or repot. Since the plant is dormant, it will be minimally disturbed by repotting and root pruning as necessary.

Repotting and root pruning are optional and are performed as with any other container grown plant. Top dress by scraping off the loose soil and dead roots from the first couple centimeters of soil. Replace the removed soil with a mixture of compost and/or well composed cow manure. 

This is a great time to give you plumeria a jump start by soaking the root ball or drenching in a mixture of Vitazyme and Carl Pool’s Root Activator.

Feed and water thoroughly using a fertilizer such as a granular slow release fertilizer with micronutrients such as Excalibur 11-11-13 or drench with a water soluble fertilizer such as Bioblast. 

Place the plant in a warm and sunny location. Some people like to sink the container into the ground, but be sure it is in a raised and well drained area such as a rose bed. This promotes more vigorous growth, provides support, and prevents it from blowing over. Plumeria tips are fragile and easily snapped off when the plant blows over.

Spring is the best time for propagating plumeria. Cutting are easiest to root and will provide plenty of time for the roots to be established before dormancy in the Fall. 


For plumeria, summer has arrived once a lush growth of leaves has developed. Many will bloom before developing leaves, others will not. Once the leaf growth has developed, the summer regimen of care can be followed.

As mentioned before plumeria are heavy feeders. However, in order to discourage excessive stem elongation and to promote flowering, balanced fertilizers such as Excalibur 11-11-13 with micronutrients are, once again, recommended. Carl Pool’s BR-61 are excellent choices to use early in the season as a foliar feed. (Caution, over use of a high phosphorus fertilizer such as Super Bloom or Carl Pool’s BR-61 can cause damage to you plumeria and the environment) Keep a plumeria healthy by feeding once or twice a month with Bioblast, and watering as necessary. The recommended slow release fertilizer Excalibur can be mixed directly in the top inch of the soil and then watered in. Excalibur IV will last 6 months and Excalibur IX will last 9 months.

During exceptionally hot periods, plants in above ground containers may need thorough watering as often as every other day. Drooping leaves can indicate a thirsty plant. As with all plants, check the soil before watering, if its dry for the first several inches, water thoroughly. Certain varieties of plumeria find some areas heat excessive for nominal blossom production. If this appears to be a problem, move the plant into a "shifting shade" location for better flower production and keeping quality.

As the days begin to grow shorter during August and September, some lower leaf yellowing and drop is normal. Some varieties will attempt a fall bloom cycle, if you are lucky and the weather cooperates, plumeria can still be blooming into November and December! But watch out, an early frost can damage or kill the plant.


For plumeria, fall begins once the nighttime temperature frequently begins to drop below 55°F. Studies have concluded that plumeria stop growing or slow dramatically  when the average ambient temperature drops below 65°F. And the length of daylight shortens. Stop feeding about a month before Fall and reduce water to encourage the plant to go into its natural dormant period.

Some growers think that feeding after mid August may contribute to the black tip fungus problem, however this has not been proven. It is difficult to predict the weather and therefore it’s difficult to give a date by which your plumeria should be safely stored for the winter. By all means, if temperatures are expected to fall into the lower 30°sF, the plants should be protected. Most varieties can be damaged or killed by temperatures in the low 30°sF for even a few hours.


Basically, DON’T LET THEM FREEZE OR BE EXPOSED TO FROST. Plumeria go dormant in winter, and may be stored in a garage, closet, green-house, etc. They need no water or sunlight during this period — typically when night temps are consistently below 50 degrees. This will vary in different parts of the country. They may be stored in their pots (best) or bare-rooted for plants which are dug out of the ground.

During the winter plumeria require very little care. In fact winter care could be considered winter storage.

Before storage, the plumeria should be defoliated. The best way to do this is to cut each and every leaf off the plant at a point about 1/2" from the stem. If you don’t defoliate, the leaves will yellow and fall off during storage providing a good environment for pests and fungus (as well as make a mess).

Winter Storage

It is also a good idea to spray for insects before putting you plumeria in storage.

Store the plumeria in a cool to warm, dry, and ventilated area such as a garage, storage shed, or your living room.  Do not allow the roots to come in contact with concrete. Concrete will such moisture from the roots. Do not allow the tip to touch the outside walls. Temperatures should not be allowed to fall below 35°F in the storage area. During exceptionally cold periods, for example below 25°F outside, a small supplemental heater may be required for plants stored in unheated sheds. A cool greenhouse is not recommended for plumeria storage because it will tend to be too damp and thus promote black tip fungus and other fungus problems.

Some people suggest not watering plumeria at all for the entire winter, but probably a small monthly drink or fine misting does more good than harm, especially if the branches are getting desiccated and the plant is in a warm dry location.

Since a defoliated plumeria takes up considerably less space than one in full leaf, they can frequently be stacked two and three high in the storage area.