Leaves turning yellow and falling off?

plumienewbie2January 29, 2012

Hi. :) I bought two plumeria cuttings last february when I went to hawaii. Since then, I've potted them in normal garden soil with lava rocks at the bottom of the pots for drainage. They've grown pretty well, but lately one of them is starting to get yellow leaves. At first I thought it was because of overwatering, so I stopped watering them so much and it temporarily stopped, but today I noticed the leaves turning yellow again! I know they aren't thirsty because the stems are hard and sturdy. What else could it be?

Here's a picture of both of my plumies, and a close up of the currently yellow leaves. The right one is nice and full of leaves but the left one has hardly any left compared to what it used to have. :(



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Oh also, what kind of advice can you give me for growing them to the best they can be and to flower soon? :) I live in Illinois so I can only bring them outside between march and october and during the winter they sit in front of our nice sliding glass door. I've wondered if they're getting enough sunlight because sometimes we have cloudy rainy days. Also, should I fertilize them during the winter? I just have so many questions, I'm sorry. :)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Plumienewbie2,

I will say that your Plumeria look great for this time of the year especially being inn Illinois.

You seem to be doing a great job already!!! : )

The yellowing of the leaves is natural this time of the year since they are slowing down for a slight time of rest (dormancy). They will yellow and fall off. It is normal. Some trees will drop most of their leaves, while others may keep more than others.

Like i mentioned..your trees look great! Just watch the amount of water that you give to them during the winter. I would make sure that they are completly dry before you water them again. Then i would even decrease the amount of water than what you are used to giving them in the growing season.

As far as fertilizing...Many different opinions here.

Some like to wait until the start of the season. Others like to give them small amounts during the slow time of the year.

Whatever you are doing..continue!! Your trees look very healthy!!!

Hope this helps!!

Welcome to the forum!!


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:25PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

I also forgot to mention about waiting for blooms...

Growing Plumeria takes patience... : )

Trees can take a year or two before they bloom, that is why it is such a wonderful experience when one has their first bloom!

It will happen...just cant say exactly when!!!

Plumeria like:

Fast draining mix
Full sun ( make sure in the spring to acclimate to full sun thought : )
Wet/ dry cycle

Hope this helps!!


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Thank you so much for your help, Laura! Next spring I'm going to repot them in a bit sandier soil and add some fertilizer and see where it goes from there. :) I'm glad to hear that there's nothing wrong with my plumies! haha I have grown so attached to them.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Sorry for such a dumb question..... but can they survive in Utah- Pleasant View/Ogden area?? I have about 6, i'm afraid if I bring them with me, they'll die, since i'm so used to our weather here, in OC, California :)


    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 7:04PM
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Totally normal. Once they start the turn from yellow to brown I just give them a light pull and if its ready it will come right off or I'll try again in a week.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:18PM
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plumienewbie2 - How cold is it right by that sliding glass
door? I remember the IL cold and how it would come right
in through the window. Looks like your door is double-glazed,
but it might not be a bad idea to put them in a spot
that's a bit warmer, especially at night. Or at least close
the drapes if you have them.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 7:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

They could be getting too much water.

The layer of lava rocks in the bottom of the container will cause water to saturate the lower
layers of the mix. It actually impedes drainage.

Also, when you say 'garden soil,' do you mean soil from the ground?
If so, I'm almost certain it will hold too much moisture indoors during the Winter.

Leaf loss is normal, but I would be concerned about root-health in this case.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 8:34PM
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I really have no idea what type of soil it is. I actually took it from a big pot under my porch that used to have tomatoes growing in it. Thats why I'm going to change soils next spring to something more sandy and drains better. I had no idea the rocks caused water to stay in the pot.

And qaguy, it does not get cold by the sliding glass door. It is cool to the touch, but never gets very cold at all. I'm not worried about the temperature. And usually my mom pushed my plumerias back at night so she can close the blinds anyway.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I fully agree with Josh about the soil and drainage layer - by the last pic, it looks like there could be some mite activity going on, as well.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


Do check for spider mites. If they are present,then you can treat. When i did view your trees, i did notice that the soil looked rather rich and heavy, but i didnt want to say anything since its not the time to repot. Since you did mention that you will repot this summer, then i would definately go to a lighter mix and think twice before you add fine sand into the mix. IMO... ther are all sorts of mixes available and easy one to make up. Especially since you used the soil from another pot!!! Yikes!!! : ) They are doing well for the winter. Keep an eye on the water . DOnt use to much during the winter. I bet you will see a big improvement this summer when you repot in a better draining mix!!! I am still very happy with the way your trees look, especially in the middle of the winter. You will have leaf loss. If you think you have spider mites, it can be fixed quite quickly since they haven;t damaged your plants to much. look under the leaves and on top and really give them a good check.

Anyway, I think they look great!! Good job!!!


Remember "Atictropical?" and how his Plumerias look like? He lives in Utah and has many beautiful tropicals as well as these awesome Palms planted in the ground. He truly is a "zone pusher" He does use lights in the winter, but that usually isnt a problem. So yes, you can grow Plumeria in Utah!! DOnt worry, they will adjust !!

Kevin, I hope you see this and let Chuy know how you grow your Plumies!!! Thanks, Kevin!!! : )

Take care,


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:08AM
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You know what - you're right about the spider mites. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I didn't know what those little web things were and didn't think anything of it. I saw a home remedy where you spray soapy water all over your plant, wait 15 minutes, then wipe it all off with water and repeat once a week until they are all gone. So I did that, and I also found out that they don't like humidity, so I put my humidifier near the plants in hope that it'll bring up the humidity a bit. Also, it has been very dreary outside the last few days so I brought my plumerias to my basement (it's as warm as the rest of the house) and put my dad's utility light on them in hope that they'll get the light they need that they can't get from the sun. Here's a picture.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 12:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

A 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water with a little insecticidal soap (very safe) is good mite medicine. Substituting pure cold-pressed neem oil (such as that packaged by Dyna-Gro) is also extremely effective.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 7:08PM
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