Common Names: Frangipani, Plumeria
Distribution: Plumerias are native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, but have become widely naturalized throughout Hawaii, India, and Southeastern Asia.
Growth Habit: Upright deciduous shrubs or small trees with dramatic trunk architecture. Colorful and fragrant flower clusters emerge from terminal ends of branches among shiny, entire leaves.
Cultural Requirements: Growing Plumerias requires very well-draining soil. They are prone to rotting if the root zone stays soggy. Full sun and a warm exposure will provide the most bountiful blooms, aided by a phosphorous rich fertilizer applied throughout their growing season. Water deeply and infrequently during the active growing season, reducing the water to almost zero during plant dormancy. Freezes will tend to kill any afflicted portion of a Plumeria.
Uses/Features: Plumeria flowers come in a wide array of brilliant color combinations and fragrances. Their aroma is most intense at night in order to attract the sphinx moths that serve as pollinators. These plants have a very airy and upright growth habit, making them well suited to tight spaces or being planted among large rocks. The salt and wind tolerance of Plumerias makes them an excellent choice for gardens near the beach, where they also lend a tropical aesthetic. Certain species including Plumeria pudica will hold their leaves year-round.
Bloom time: May through November
Where at SDBG: Rainforest and Hamilton Children’s Garden
Photos: Rachel Cobb
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