A shrub or small tree, plumeria are generally warm-weather plants with showy, fragrant flower clusters. The fragrance is prevalent in body lotions and soaps. Plumeria will not tolerate cold and should be moved indoors in frost-prone areas. Pruning plumeria will keep it fresh and force blooms for the following season. In addition, prunings may be easily rooted for new plants.
Cut plumeria back with diagonal cuts using a knife, pruning shears or saw, depending on the size of the branch. Cuts should be clean and made in one motion. Pruned area will bleed sap for a day or so.
Prune dead or diseased branches by cutting a few inches below dead or diseased section. Dispose of cuttings to avoid spread of disease.
Apply fungicide at the tip of the pruned area to prevent disease from spreading to the rest of the plant.
Encourage growth by pruning from the top. This will promote growth of lateral branches, which will cause the plant to fill out.
Create new plants by selecting a branch that has three or four limbs. Cut about one foot below the area where one of the limbs has forked, and use this piece as your new cutting. Dip into a root hormone to induce growth before planting.
Prune plumeria any time of year, though pruning during the late winter-early spring will encourage the most new growth.
The plumeria shrub features oblong, glossy green leaves. The leaves can grow up to 20 inches long, depending on the variety. The flowers, which bloom from June to November, have a waxy appearance and can be cream, pink, yellow, red or a combination of those colors. The blooms are large--growing up to 4 inches across--and fragrant. Each color has a slightly different fragrance. The flowers are also unique in that they tend to pile up on top of one another.
The canopy of the plumeria shrub is shaped like an umbrella. The plant can be trained to grow on one trunk or as a bush. Plumerias can also be grown as indoor plants.
Plumerias are tropical plants and should be protected from frost. Exposure to just one freeze will kill these flowers. They are drought and heat tolerant, and can be grown either in full sun or partial shade, although plumerias will tend to flower better in full sun. In the fall, the leaves of the plumeria will turn red and drop off. Plumerias are dormant in the winter and require no special care until they begin to grow in the spring, at which point they need water.
Plumerias have weak wood and can be easily damaged or broken. They are also susceptible to root rot and some insect pests such as scale and the fragipani caterpillar.
Dig out a planting hole that is twice as large and as deep as the nursery pot your plumeria tree is in.
Slide the plumeria out of the nursery pot. If it is in plastic, cut the plastic away from the root-ball with a pair of sharp shears.
Rub your hands over the outside of the root-ball to rough up the soil. Prune away any roots that are twisted back on themselves and cut any roots that look rotted or diseased.
Lower the root-ball into the planting hole. Make sure the base of the stem is level with the surrounding soil. Add soil or remove it from under the root-ball as necessary until the plumeria tree is resting at the correct height in the hole.
Backfill the planting hole by pushing the soil back in around the root-ball. Add a few handfuls at a time and pat it down as you go.
Press down the soil with the flat of your hands all around the base of the plumeria trunk. Soak the area around the root-ball until the soil is thoroughly and evenly damp.
Cut a 1- to 2-foot branch or tip from the parent plant with clean gardening sheers.
Remove any foliage and set the cutting in a dry location, allowing it to cure for two weeks.
Mix together one part peat moss with two parts pertile and fill the pot, making the soil line 1 inch below the rim.
Wet the bottom end of the cutting with water and dip it in rooting hormone to cover the end.
Make an indentation in the center of the soil using your finger and insert the cutting, pushing it down 3 inches. Pat the soil to firm around the cutting.
Fill the rest of the pot with pea gravel.
Apply water to the soil until it leaks out of the drain hole.
Place in a sunny location and re-water when the soil dries. If planted in the spring, it will take about 90 days for the roots to develop.
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