A. You might think the answer would be simple - fertilize.   It isn't exactly that easy.  Several steps are involved in producing colorful, fragrant blooms.

A growing plumeria plant should be potted in some container using gravel or broken clay pot fragments on the bottom of the pot, then add a planting mix rich in organic material containing perlite or sand.  The essentials are a high organic content, moisture retention and good drainage.  The soil should have a slightly acid pH. (6.4 to 6.8).

Plumerias should be watered when the soil is dry.  They prefer to be damp and misted as in a tropical climate, so do not over water.  Mist in the early morning as the sun could scorch the leaves later in the day.

This plant likes sun.  Locate it in an area where plants can receive at least one-half day of full sun.  Many varieties can take a full day of sun.  The red varieties may need less sun as their bright colors could fade with more than six hours of sunlight.  Some varieties may thrive by being on a concrete patio in full sun.

Beginning in April, the plumeria should be fertilized.  Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus (the middle number) every two to three weeks.  If the acid content becomes too high, then feed the plant Epsom Salts to neutralize the soil, as this could cause root damage.  Epsom Salts also help to control a leaf scorch caused by a magnesium deficiency.  Some people prefer to fertilize using fortified bone meal and super phosphate.  For a five to seven gallon container use:

2 Tbs.Bone meal (1-13-0)
2 Tbs.Potash (soluble potassium carbonate or potassium nitrate)

Sprinkle on top of soil & water weekly.  Every 4th Week feed 1 to 2 Tbs. of Epsom Salts.  Continue until buds appear in May or June, at which time you omit potassium nitrate from weekly feedings.  Feed every 4th week until mid-August, then cease all feedings.  The plant will adjust to the coming winter months of cooler or cold weather.  Commercial plumeria fertilizers are also available.

Bud set is controlled by increased hours of daylight, rising temperatures and a fertilizer schedule.  Enjoy the colorful flowers and pleasing fragrance.

The plumeria is a member of the Apoaynacae family of plants and is a native of the tropical Americas.  A French botanist, Charles Plumier, named it in the17th century.  The French speaking people of the Caribbean call it "Frangipani" because of its milky sap.

 


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