By: Teo Spengler
Plumeria blooms are lovely and fragrant, evoking the tropics. However, the plants are not demanding when it comes to care. Even if you neglect them and expose them to heat and drought, they often thrive. That said, it can be upsetting to see plumeria flowers falling off or buds dropping before they open. Read on for information about plumeria flower drop and other problems with plumeria.
Plumeria, also called frangipani, are small, spreading trees. They deal well with drought, heat, neglect, and insect attacks. Plumeria are easily identifiable trees. They have gnarled branches and grow the distinctive flowers used in Hawaiian leis. The blossoms grow in clusters at the branch tips, with waxy petals, and a flower center in a contrasting color.
Why are plumeria flowers dropping from the plant before they are finished blooming? When plumeria buds fall unopened to the ground—called plumeria bud drop—or the flowers fall, look to the cultural care the plants are receiving.
Generally, problems with plumeria stem from inappropriate planting or care. These are sun loving plants that need excellent drainage. Many gardeners associate plumeria with the Hawaiian tropics but, in fact, the plants are native to Mexico and Central and South America. They need warmth and sun to thrive and do not grow well in wet or cold areas.
Even if your area is warm and sunny, be frugal with irrigation when it comes to plumeria. Excess moisture can cause both plumeria flower drop and plumeria bud drop. Plumeria plants can rot from getting too much water or standing in wet soil.
Sometimes plumeria bud drop is caused by cold temperatures. Overnight temperatures can dip at the end of the growing season. With the cold night temperatures, the plants start to prepare themselves for winter dormancy.
You’ve situated your plumeria in a sunny location and made sure that the soil drains fast and well. But you still see plumeria flowers falling off, along with all the foliage. Take a look at the calendar. Plumeria goes through dormancy in winter. At that time, like other deciduous plants, it drops its leaves and remaining flowers and appears to stop growing.
This type of plumeria flower drop and leaf drop is normal. It helps the plant prepare for the growth to come. Watch for new leaves to appear in spring, followed by plumeria buds and flowers.
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Fragrant, five-petal, lobed flowers of the frangipani (Plumeria spp.) occur in abundant sunshine when temperatures are warm to hot. Naturally deciduous in the cooler or drier months of winter, frangipani doesn’t flower when it's cool. Proper cultural techniques from watering to fertilizing also affect blossom development. The more branch tips on a plant, the more flowers are potentially produced.
|My plumeria plant is growing and healthy until the leaves come on. They get black/brown spots, turn yellow and fall off. The first year I did get flowers. The plant is now three years old and I have had none since. I keep it in the sun room of our house with west exposure (afternoon sun). Last year I moved it outside from June thru mid-September. I feed it with tropical plant food they gave me when I bought it. It looks like I get small spider looking webs at base of connected leaves, but have never seen any bugs. I try to remove them as soon as I see them. Do I need to spray it?|
Based upon your description, I'd guess your plant has an infestation of spider mites. The pests leave webbing, which is about the only way you know they're there, because they're tiny little insects. They also cause stippling and yellowing of leaves. You can deter the pests by misting your plant frequently (they love dry places).
Plumeria are tropical flowering trees, sometimes called frangipani, in the plant family Apocynaceae. Though tropical by nature, when protected from frost, they are well suited to subtropical climates in the United States in states bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, and in Southern California. They are prolific in Hawaii.
Plumeria are valued as landscape plants, as ornamentals, and for their flowers. The flowers come in seemingly endless variety of color, size and fragrance.
Plumerias 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. 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.
Feed and water thoroughly using a fertilizer such as Super Bloom. If desired, there are specialty plumeria foods that can be used.
Q: Why is my plumbago shrub not doing well? I have seen the one in the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden and the ones at your Yulee satellite office. They all look beautiful. What am I doing wrong?
A: It helped to have a clipping of your shrub because I was able to detect mites which contributed to the shrub’s decline. Consider some light pruning to remove heavy infestations on the limb tips along with horticulture oil sprayed directly on the plant leaves and stems. In addition, applying imidacloprid as a soil drench around the root area should help you control the mites. This chemical is taken up by the roots and goes through the vascular system ending up in the leaves and flowers. When the insect feeds on the plant tissue they take up the chemical and die. We would not recommend you use this on all your plants but only those having insect infestations. Both the horticulture oil and imidacloprid can be found at most any garden center.
Plumbago, Plumbago auriculata, is best grown in zones 9-11. Remember those of you along the east part of I-95 are in cold hardiness zone 9a while those of you on the west part are in 8b. This means plumbago may die back completely if temperatures become too cold for long periods of time. In your case, since you are in zone 8b, this plant is slightly out of its comfort zone. This may place some undue stress on the plant making it may be more susceptible to insects or disease. But do not be discouraged as it may well survive in your area although it does have one strike against it. Be sure to protect plumbago if temperatures drop below 32 degrees, especially during its first few years in the ground. Allow for plenty of room as it can reach heights of up to 10 feet with an equal spread. This makes it a poor specimen for directly up against the house.
Plumbago prefers part shade to part sun but I have seen it planted in full sun with some success too. Its periwinkle blue flowers are unusual in the plant kingdom making it a prized plant. The flowers bloom from spring through the fall. Plumbago is slightly drought tolerant but does not need to be watered as often as lawn grass. It can live in most any soil condition making a wonderful plant for new home sites. However, if the soil pH is too alkaline the leaves will turn yellow from mineral deficiencies. There is a white flowered plumbago cultivar called ‘Alba’.
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My daughter inherited a plant that she tells me is a plumeria frangipani, from a church group that needed a volunteer to care for it during the holidays. This was almost two years ago. She has been in charge of it until this fall when she went off to college and asked me to continue watering it. I've given the plant a cup of water per week, and kept it by the same window in her bedroom where it gets a lot of diffuse light through sheer curtains, but not a lot of direct sun. We are in Massachusetts, and the plant has been kept indoors the whole time we've had it. I remember it losing all its leaves in the winter and having them grow back in the spring and summer. It hasn't flowered at all, probably not enough sunlight next to the window here. But the leaves have been growing and healthy-looking until just now.
My primary ambition is to keep the plant alive and healthy until my daughter gets back for the winter break, and then again until summer. It went well for two months but now we have this leaf issue.
The first photo shows the plant itself. I moved it away from the window to take this photo.
The second photo shows a close up of the white spots on one of the leaves. All the leaves have this issue.
The third photo shows how some of the lower leaves are curling outward on one side.
When: Apply Excalibur VI every six months, Foliar feed every two weeks to every month with BioBlast.
How: After 6 months, I spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of Excalibur VI on the top of the soil and mix in the top 1-2” of the soil. The seedling should still be in the 7 1/2 gal squat pot. Foliar feed with BioBlast 1 oz to 1 galon and Vitazyme 1 oz to 1 gal every month or less. Drench with Vitazyme and Root Activator in the Early Spring or if transplanting.
Why: Excalibur provide a balanced slow release fertilizer specifically designed for plumeria. BioBlast works with every part of your plant. Soil organisms are invigorated with Vitazyme bio-stimulants providing quicker, more vigorous growth. Roots are encouraged with our Root Activator.
If possible, do not let seedlings go dormant their first winter. You can treat seedlings as adult plumeria after the first growing season.
Keep looking for more space, they will grow!
More details on how we grow seedling for root stock and for new cultivars can be found on Plumeria Seeds