Bring the Tropics to Your Garden With Plumeria Flowers—Here's How to Grow Them (2024)

Plumeria is a genus of 11 species of small trees or shrubs native to the tropical Americas. Also known under the common name frangipani, they are valued for their delicate fragrant flower clusters—you may recognize them from Hawaiian leis. The five-petaled flowers are waxy and highly fragrant.

All About Plumeria

Plumeria have widely spaced, thick, succulent branches covered with a thin grey or tan bark. The alternate leaves grow in clusters near the branch tips; they are large, long, and leathery or fleshy. Some plumeria species are deciduous while others are evergreen.

Depending on the species, the leaves may be glossy or dull green, round or with pointed tips, and smooth or corrugated. The growth habit also varies; some species are upright and compact while others are open and sprawling.

Although it is a slow grower, plumeria may grow up to 30 feet tall in the landscape. Grown in containers, it stays much smaller and allows you to move it indoors for the winter if you live outside its USDA hardiness range.

Common NamePlumeria, frangipani
Botanical NamePlumeria spp.
Plant TypeTree
Mature Size10-30 ft. tall, 20-25 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull, partial
Soil TypeLoamy, sandy, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic, neutral
Bloom TimeSummer, fall
Flower ColorWhite, yellow, pink, red, orange, red
Hardiness Zones10-11 (USDA)
Native AreaNorth America, South America, Caribbean

Plumeria Care

Bring the Tropics to Your Garden With Plumeria Flowers—Here's How to Grow Them (1)

Here are the main care requirements for growing a plumeria:

  • Select a location with full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Dig a wide, saucer-shaped whole that is at least three times as large as the nursery container or root ball of the plant.
  • After backfilling the planting hole, tamp down the soil and water deeply.
  • Because plumeria has a shallow root system, it helps to place a couple of large rocks over the root zone to prevent the tree roots from getting dislodged by wind.
  • Water the newly planted plumeria regularly.
  • Once it’s established, give the plant about 1 inch of water per week in the absence of rain, more as needed. Water potted plants more frequently.
  • Protect the plant from temperatures below 50 degrees F.
  • Fertilize potted plumeria once a month during the active growing season.


These tropical flowers grow in full sun and partial shade but prosper in abundant sunshine for at least six hours per day.


Loamy, rich soil is ideal but plumeria adapts to a wide range of soil types as long as it drains well. Avoid locations with soggy soil as it can causeroot rot. The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0.


The rule of thumb of about 1 inch of water per week also applies to established plumeria. However, the watering needs to be increased with exposure to direct sunlight.

In a location with full sun for most of the day, it needs more watering than in a partially shaded location so you might have to water in the absence of rain. Water deeply and then let the soil dry out before watering again.

Do not water outdoor plumeria in the landscape during its winter dormancy. Indoor plumeria that are dormant only need infrequent watering, as little as every two weeks. Water just enough so the soil ever fully dries out.

Temperature and Humidity

Plumeria is a tropical plant that thrives in hot, tropical climates with high humidity. The plants do not tolerate frost.


Established plumeria in the landscape do just fine without regular fertilization, unless the soil is poor. Give it a bloom-boosting high-phosphorus fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, as this will produce more foliage than flowers.

Potted plants should be fertilized with the same high-phosphorus fertilizer about once a month during the active growing season to make up for the nutrient loss from frequent watering.

Types of Plumeria

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Plumeria comes in a wide range of varieties and flower colors. Here is a selection of some popular ones:

  • P. rubra is highly popular for its intensely fragrant flowers. This species is native to dry, hot regions of Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela. It comes in many colors: white, cream, yellow, orange, pale and hot pink, and red. Plumeria rubra loses its leaves with the onset of cold weather. It grows 15 feet tall and wide.
  • P. alba, the white plumeria, has flowers with a soft yellow center that fades to pure white near the tips of the flower. Also known as a white plumeria, West Indian Jasmine, or nosegay, it is native to Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles. The tree grows 15 to 25 feet tall and often forms an umbrella shape.
  • P. obtusa is commonly known as Singapore plumeria or Singapore pink. It bears flowers in shades of pink and white. Its flower petals are rounder than those of P. rubra. The plants don’t grow quite as tall as other plumeria, topping out at 10 to 15 feet in height.
  • P. pudica, sometimes referred to as Bridal Bouquet, is a heavily blooming, profusely branched tree with a mature size of 15 feet in height. It is native to Panama, Columbia, and Venezuela. The flowers are white or cream-colored with a yellow center. In warmer locations, the tree is an evergreen.


There is little need for pruning plumeria, unless you are unhappy with its shape and want to train it as a tree with a single central trunk or a shorter, denser shrub. In late winter or early spring, before the new growth starts. remove all the lower branches near the trunk or cut all the branches back to around half of their length.

Plumeria typically only branches out after an injury (i.e. pruning) or after flowering. Be conservative when pruning, as the tips of the branches produce the tree’s flowers, and cutting too much reduces the bloom in the following year.


The branches of plumeria are prone to breakage, oozing a milky sap that can irritate the eyes and cause skin reactions. Always handle the plant with care and wear gloves and protective gear, especially when pruning.

Propagating Plumeria

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Plumeria is fairly easy to propagate from stem cuttings. This is best done in the spring.

  1. In the spring, find a spot with mature, gray bark and take a 12- to 18-inch tip cutting using clean, sharp pruners or secateurs. Cut at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Strip the leaves from the cutting, leaving only those at the top.
  3. Let the cutting dry at room temperature and away from the direct sunlight for about a week, or until the cut end is fully calloused over.
  4. Moisten the cut end and dip it into rooting hormone powder. Shake off the excess powder.
  5. Fill a 6-inch pot with good-quality, well-draining potting mix, or a mix of potting soil and cactus soil or pumice. Insert the cutting 3 to 4 inches deep into the soil.
  6. Place the pot in a warm bright location away from direct sunlight.
  7. Water deeply and allow the excess water to drain away. Wait until the soil feels dry several inches down before you water again. Too much water risks rotting the cutting.
  8. After the cutting has rooted (gently tug the cutting to check for resistance), place the pot in a sunny spot and keep it moist but not soggy. Wait for the cutting to grow into a vigorous new plant before transplanting it into the landscape. This will take around 6 to 8 weeks.
  9. A plumeria propagated from stem cuttings takes one to three years to bloom.

How to Grow Plumeria From Seed

It is possible yet not recommended to propagate plumeria from seeds. The seeds are not widely available, and if you get your hands on some, they might not be viable. Plus, you’ll have to wait five years or more until the plant reaches the flowering stage only to realize that the seeds did not produce a plant that is true to the parent, which is usually the case.

Potting and Repotting Plumeria

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Plumeria has a shallow root system, which makes it an ideal plant for potting. Use a large, wide pot, which prevents the tree from becoming top-heavy and toppling over in windy conditions. Make sure it has large drainage holes.Fill it with well-draining potting mix.

Because plumeria is a slow grower, repotting to a larger pot is only needed every few years when the plant has visibly outgrown its pot. However, it benefits from the addition of a fresh growing medium every year. Using a trowel, carefully remove the top few inches of soil and replace it with nutrient-rich compost and fresh potting mix.


If you are growing plumeria outside its hardiness range, bring it indoors when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. To let it enter dormancy indoors move it to a cool room and water it sparingly. If you are overwintering your potted plumeria in a room where the temperature is above 65 or 70 degrees, the plant is unlikely to go dormant though it will drop some of its leaves.

Gradually acclimate the plant to the outdoors the following spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Plumeria is not bothered by any serious pests and diseases, but it may get common greenhouse and houseplant pests such as white flies, mealybugs, and spider mites. Use insecticidal soap to control them before it turns into an infestation.

Potential fungal diseases include plumeria rust, black tip fungus, and leaf spot.

How to Get Plumeria to Bloom

Plumeria blooms between May and November. The exact bloom time varies from species to species and the local climate, but the bloom may last two weeks or more, while individual flowers last for a day or two.

The number of flowers per cluster varies greatly between the cultivars. Some plumerias produce as many as 200 flowers while others barely reach 50.

Another variable is the number of branch tips that will grow flowers, in some plumerias, only one out of 10 branch tips have flowers whereas in others, there are six out of ten. Your best bet is to select a variety that is known to be a profuse bloomer.

Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage more flowering and prevent seedpod production.

Common Problems With Plumeria

Serious problems of plumeria are rare, however, keep an eye out for these signs:

Wrinkled, Spongy, or Soft Branches

In cool, wet weather or when the plant is overwatered, a fungus in the roots or branches can cause branches to deteriorate. Carefully remove affected branches and, if the problem persists, apply an organic anti-fungicide for houseplants.

Yellowing Leaves

In most cases, the culprit for yellowing leaves is overwatering. Cut down on the watering until the soil is completely dry and set the pot in an area that easily allows excess water to drain away. If it’s a potted plant, also check the drainage (including the soil, which may be compacted) and repot the plant if necessary.

Insufficient drainage of landscape plants is trickier to remedy. If the problem persists after you cut down on watering, work some organic matter and perlite into the topsoil layer of the soil to improve drainage.


  • Is plumeria hard to grow?

    Plumeria is easy to grow, both in the landscape as well as in pots, provided it gets enough sun, water, and fertilizer. It is a slow-growing plant, so it only requires minimal maintenance.

  • Do plumerias grow well in pots?

    Outside its hardiness range (USDA zones 10-11), many gardeners successfully grow plumeria in pots. There are a few specifics to keep in mind for container-grown plumeria. The pot needs to be large enough to accommodate the shallow root system and heavy enough, so it does not topple over. And potted plants always need more frequent watering than plants in the landscape.

  • In what month does plumeria flower?

    Unlike many other flowering trees, the time window of the plumeria bloom is quite broad. Plumeria blooms in the warm season, any time between May and November. The bloom time depends on the type of plumeria you have, your local climate, and weather conditions.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Plumeria. University of Madison-Wisconsin.

Bring the Tropics to Your Garden With Plumeria Flowers—Here's How to Grow Them (2024)
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