plumeria cold tolerance worries

phalanx_viridisJanuary 27, 2014

Hello to all of my friends bitten by the plumeria praxis bug..I am fairly new to plumeria and I have scoured the net and this forum endlessly looking for reassuring facts and opinions about cold tolerance of plumeria.

I have found a lot of valuable info...but when it comes to my zone (9a) and overwintering outside, the answers are a bit....muddy, pardon the pun. Unfortunately, as much 'good' info there is out there, just as much misinformation exists.

I am so grateful to have this forum as a resource and I have used it extensively for nearly 5 years before joining/posting (this is my first) so I want to pose my question here.

I have 7 plumies (2-4 yr olds) that I just recently transplanted to Al's gritty mix (love the science/rationale behind this man), and because of our unusually warm winter here in SoCal (70-80s during the day) I have been moving my specimens outside in the am and back in after sunset...yes my neighbors give me inquisitive looks, but that's my norm.

My (succinct) question is this: overnight temps dip to low 40s at night but only get there and stay for a few hours at most, currently. A majority of the overnight temps are in the 50s. My closest station (temp reference) is pretty close to my home, and I have found it to be pretty accurate to my property. I am wondering if my guys will be okay outside overnight if I keep them up against the westside of my house (stucco), under the eaves as a nanoclimate. I don't have any varieties that have been noted to be extra cold snobby (like singapores etc.) but I have a few rainbows and a miniature varietal. Will they be okay overnight or should I continue to garage them at night?

I know you all will understand my woes, but I do not want to lose any after all the work and research I have put in. These are my babies... I have found most of the questions/answers regarding overwintering plumeria to be very subjective to each grower's specific situation, and thus, here is mine.

Please advise.

Thank you in advance!

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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

hello and welcome.

40's are not a problem at all. if you start to get into the 30's I would watch them carefully and think about protection. Frost can happen above 32 and can cause some damage.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:14AM
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Based on your description I would say you are just fine to leave them in that microclimate.

What size containers are they in and do they have a greyish woody appearance on the main branches? For future reference anything that is in less than a 5 gallon container I would not expose to routine night time temps below 40 or wet conditions and routine temps in the 40s.

My threshold to protect a plant which is about 4 years old and by then typically in a 12 gallon container is at 38 degrees. Anything above that is fine anything below is flirting with damage. Frost can happen as high as 35 or 36 degrees depending on local conditions. Hope this helps and good luck with them. In the summer when you have blooms be sure to share with us.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:40AM
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okie dokie, thanks for your help mksmith and kms2!

they're in no.15 containers and yes all of them have the grayish outer layer. I will certainly protect them below 40F.

with my daytime temps swinging up to 70-80F, is watering them okay once they are bone dry? I use a moisture meter to test and would only water in the am. All of them have large leaves and glistening tips that are pushing growing claws, but with the overnight temps, Im hesitant.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:54AM
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A simple solution to cold is to put a sock on each growing
tip (if you can). Of course, this will get you even more
inquisitive looks from the neighbors.

I have used this trick more than once and haven't lost any
yet. Mine are in the ground though.

I did have a couple of tips get frost-bit last year, but the
plants shrugged it off and kept on going. I was out of
town and an unforeseen cold snap caught us unawares.

It's not the best way to get limbs to branch, but that's what
happened. Most of them sprouted 2 or 3 new branches.

With this nice warm weather we're having, I've given mine
a drink or two lately.

What Sunset zone are you in?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:37AM
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qaguy thanks for the sock tip! that's brilliant...I have heard of using pool noodles cut lengthwise and wrapped around the tips but I will supplement that with socks for sure.

my sunset zone, per the 2012 ed. is zone 19, but the area in which I live has more coastal influence than other surrounding areas dubbed 19 19.5 or 20 may be a little more accurate based on the zonal parameters in the book on pg. 20.

thanks for your input, I am giving my guys a drink today with the high expected to be 84F, I will likely move them indoors if that storm ends up sweeping down later this week.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:52AM
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My assumption but...socks could only be used on branches without leaves? For some reason I thought I read in your original post that they had leaves which is one of my decision points in deciding to water and how much watering. But now I don't see it. I would water as well. If concerned you could lightly water along the inside edge of the container. This typically takes the potential of moisture building up against the main stem of the plant and causing rot during cold dormancy. But again based on your description the plants are not in full dormancy anyways.

I'ts great to hear they are in #15 pots. IMO many people undersize the container for various reasons. I think the larger size the container and older the plant gives a person a wider margin of error.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:19PM
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kms2 yes you're correct, the plants all still have multiple, large leaves so I have given them a small drink. I definitely live by the rule no leaves=no H20. The #15 pots are more cumbersome, but I agree with you on pot size.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:44PM
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also, with leaves on the tip, it is tricky to cover them with socks so I tried wrapping the sock around like a scarf after lightly coaxing the leaves close to the branches and it will suffice come cold temps.

thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:48PM
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