Well July is finally here and the summer heat will not let up for at least several more months so I want to stay on my theme of plants that work well in this dry weather. This week I have decided to talk about my favorite plant, the plumeria. Plumerias could be your answer to finding a plant that will flourish in our summer heat and once the plants are established they even do well during drought conditions. Many of us have areas in the garden that get full sun and little water. These conditions may not work well for some plants but for the plumeria, these conditions are ideal. That is why I love plumerias.
I was introduced to the Plumeria’s over twenty-five years ago from a customer of mine who had one growing in her garden. When I saw the tropical plant I commented to her on how lovely the blossoms smelled. She told me that these were the blossoms that the locals in Hawaii used to make the Hawaiian Leis. She told me they came in many colors and fragrances and that she was able to take a cutting home to Florida and decided to plant it in her garden. She also told me about how easy the plant was to grow and that it preferred to be in the full sun. Then she asked if I would like a piece of her plant to start. Of course, I said yes. She then broke a piece off her plant and took the leaves off and told me to wait about five days then just “stick it in the ground”. Well, I followed her instructions and within a month or two, my plant was growing. I was hooked!
Since I started my nursery I have been fortunate to name over twenty-five cultivars of plumerias which I have propagated myself. This took many years of growing and thousands of tries but I managed to produce some very pretty varieties. I also have chosen some of the best varieties of plumerias I have found over the years and sell them in my nursery, ABC Tropical Plant Nursery, Inc. Most of these additional cultivars were chosen for their blooming, branching, fragrance, and color. I am particularly partial to the tri-color varieties we carry. The tri-color varieties have three colors on each of the petals as shown in some of the photographs I have included. My enthusiasm to grow and propagate this plant continues. I am constantly looking for new or improved varieties to share with others (there are over 1000). If you want a carefree plant that loves dry areas of the garden and our hot sun then this is the plant for you.
Plumerias can work in any garden. Pick out a sunny spot that is well drained and plant your plumeria at the same height it is in the pot. There is no need to improve the soil around your new plant. Water in your new planting to settle the roots and if the new plant is very tall you may need to stake the plant. Fertilize your new plumeria with Osmacote or another fertilizer containing phosphorous. I like to fertilize every two months with light applications. Even when plumerias go dormant in the winter, I like to apply small amounts of fertilizer to keep the root system growing. Most plumerias will grow to a height of six to eight feet tall in central Florida. Plants that are in protected areas can reach heights of over ten feet. Once your plant is established there is little you will need to do but enjoy the show.