South Texas Gardening with Bob Webster

Plumeria



The plumeria also known as the frangipani is one of the most desirable of fragrant plants around. The garden will be filled with a rich, heady, exotic perfume. The aroma lingers deep within each flower in each cluster. The plumeria is a fast growing, vigorous tree and is easy to grow and bring into bloom, provided its basic needs are met, including regular feeding with a fertilizer high in phosphorous, generous watering when the soil is dry, and a half day or more of sun. The few pests that may bother the plumeria can usually be washed off with a stiff spray of water from the garden hose. Like the clematis, the plumeria likes it's roots in shade or partial shade and it's head in the sun. The plumeria is a good container plant on decks or patios built from wood. The plumeria does not like heat from block or concrete. The plumeria is very cold sensitive and must be protected in cold weather, therefore making it an excellent choice for container planting. The plumeria grows best in zones nine to eleven which includes the Houston and Galveston area. The plumeria can be transplanted very successful even when quite large with comparatively small balls of roots. The plumeria does not like to be root bound, and it is recommended that the plumeria be repotted each year. Spring is a very good time to repot. Some gardeners even take them out of their pots in November as they are becoming dormant and store them bare root in a warm place. Then in the spring they repot them up with fresh potting mix. Potting mixes for plumerias should contain organic matter and good drainage materials.
Plumerias can be propagated very easily by cuttings from mature wood, not green, but having a grayish sheen to it. Cuttings for propagation can be taken pretty much any time of the year, but most successful and easily when cuttings are taken during late winter while the plumeria is dormant. The cuttings can be stored for months before planting. However there must be sufficient warm weather remaining to allow the cutting to establish a healthy root system outdoors. In Texas, May through July would be the most ideal time to start plumeria from cuttings. To take new cuttings a very sharp knife, clippers, or large tooth pruning saw should be used. The cut should be diagonal and clean without damage to the cuffing or donor.
If the cutting has leaves, they should be removed. Some gardeners prefer to allow the cuttings to air dry for a few days to allow the cuts to heal before planting. Before planting the cuttings, dip the cut end in water or root stimulator, then into a rooting powder that contains a fungicide such as rootone. Select a container appropriately sized for the cutting. Of course, a very large cutting will require a larger container for stability. Select a well balanced planting mix with good drainage. During the root development stage water usage should be minimal. However, the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out. The rooting process will generally take 45 to 75 days after planting. The new root system is very fragile therefore it's very important to keep the plant as stable in the pot as possible. The rooting process should be done in a somewhat dry, warm to hot, and lull sun environment. Generally, a lush healthy growth of leaves will indicate an equally healthy root system.
 
Researched by Recie Kraemer

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