newbie - need advise on growing plumeria cutting in pot

nkt38238(Z9 CA)March 17, 2006


While I was at local retail store this week, I saw them selling Plumeria cuttings. I picked one up. It's about 6" long and 1" thick. At the bottom of the stick, there seems to be white paint type of material (root stimulator or what?) glued. I don't know what it is.

I've never grown Plumeria. I would greatly appreciate if you nice folks could answer following questions about growing it:

0. When should I plant it in pot? I am in N. California and the temps still go down in 30s and 40s at night. The day time temps are in 40s to low 60s.

1. How do I put it in pot? Should I just stick it in the pot and how deep?

2. How large pot do I need to use?

3. What kind of soils/material Plumeria grows best in pot?

4. What kind of fertilizer should I use? Please exact name of it that you find Plameria thrive in.

5. If you recommend any root stimulator/fungicide, can please give the name of the product you've used?

Thanks very much.

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mikeod(Z9 FL)

OK. First, there are several different ideas on how to root a plumeria cutting, but they all tend to agree on a few points. Use a fast draining medium. Some use all perlite, some perlite mixed with a potting soil; some use cactus mix with or without perlite. Some use potting soil with pumice, while some use pumice mixed with coir. Just about all agree that after the initial watering, you should not water again until you have true leaves growing.

Since the weather is still on the chilled side, you would have to start the rooting process indoors or move the plant in for the evening, and back out during the day. Plumeria cuttings need bottom heat and light to root. If you have a concrete area that gets full sun during the day, you can put the pot out there, then bring it in for the evening. If you have a heating pad, you could put it on the heating pad during the evening (or all day if you don't have a warm spot in the yard) to help speed rooting. Some have a warm, bright spot indoors that also works.

Your cutting is a bit on the small side. I prefer cuttings to be at least 12-14". But I have rooted ones as small as yours. Use a small pot to start. I would recommend nothing larger than a one gallon pot. I prefer black plastic nursery pots. I would plant the cutting no deeper than 2-3". You may have to stake it to keep it upright. I suspect the substance on the bottom is rooting hormone. Just pot the cutting the way it is.

No fertilizer should be used until the cutting is completely rooted. The cutting has sufficient energy to grow on its own for a while. I would suggest using rooting enhancer like Super Thrive or Start with the first watering. Both should be available in CA. You can mist the tip of the cutting from time to time if you wish with water.

Once the cutting is rooted and growing well, you have many choices of fertilizers. Most of the growers I talk with use a stepped program. They use one higher in nitrogen early to stimulate leaf production, then switch to one with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium through the growing season to stimulate blooming. As the season draws down, they switch to one with no nitrogen to prepare the plant for the winter dormancy.

Check out and Both have much more information than I have given you. Maui has a forum with real experts to answer questions. There are people growing plumeria in Canada and Switzerland who have much more of a challenge than we do in CA. You'll learn a lot.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 12:25PM
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Mike gave you fantastic information. As for me, I like Super Soil potting soil. When I root during hot weather, I will water as needed. But if I'm winter rooting it, I will not water because the Super Soil is already moist. Since your Plumeria is a short one, I would root it in a transparent cup. I love using the Starbuck plastic cups. It's exciting to see roots. All you have to do is cut away the plastic and pot up to the next size pot. Good luck and have fun.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 10:10PM
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nkt38238(Z9 CA)

Hi Mikeod and Kasie,

Sorry for the delay in response. Thanks very much for information. I am following instructions provided at,

which recommends using Perlite, potting soil and pea pabble.

I am having really hard time finding pea pabble here in bay area. Is it absolutely necessary? Can I substitute it with something else?

I like Kasie's idea of using transparant pot. I am thinking of using yogurt contianer (half gallon ??).

As for rooting hormone, I found RootOne hormone with fungicide. I hope it is good one.

Last question:

Can I pot it now and just keep it in garage (dark most of the time) and bring it out in April or should I wait till April for potting. Taking plant inside and outside everyday is not practicle for me, unfortunately.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 2:39AM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

The pea gravel is used to support the cutting. I don't use it. You can use a stake to support the cutting for now.
I would not pot the cutting and put it in the dark. I think it is an invitation to rot. If you cannot put it outside, I would put it at a bright window. The important thing is heat. Try to give it bottom heat along with the light from the window. Some people use a human heating pad with plastic on top in case the pot leaks. That will supply bottom heat to stimulate rooting.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 11:27AM
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nkt38238(Z9 CA)

Good tips, Mike. Thanks. I think I will plant the stick in small pot next month. The temps are still in 40s at night and I just don't have luxury to use heating pad,etc. Hope the stick survives another month without planting.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 10:39PM
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firstflyboy(USDA ZONE 7)


Boy are you in for it now. Hope you realize that you are going to become soooo attached to Plumerias that you will soon find you have 10-15-20,,,,, pots with different cuttings you will be taking care of. Additonally, no matter how bad or well you do with them, you just can't find how to stop... Welcome to this wildness and good luck.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 1:13PM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

He He, you're not supposed to tell them that until they have at least 20 plants!!! :) Then it takes a complete blood transfusion, counseling and even that doesn't really work.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 1:47PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Listen to Mike. He has excellent advice. I have a slighltly modified approach as I plant over 100 cuttings each season. I mix cactus mix 50/50 with pumice. I put about 2 inches in a one gallon pot. I then put a small plastic water bottle(16.9 oz) into the center of the pot and fill around with the 50/50 mix. I water with a solution of superthrive and water and then twist out the bottle. This leaves a nice hole in the center of your pot. I put a handfull of perlite into the hole. Then I dip the cutting (cut at 45 degree angle and dried 5 days) into the superthrive solution and dip 1 inch into rooting compound. Shake off excess and place the cutting on the perlite. I then fill the hole with pumice to secure the stem. Water and be done. Mist if hot. Keep in partial shade for the first two weeks. I hold up larger cuttings with bamboo stakes or I cut styrofoam pieces between the pot edge and the stem on both sides to secure from falling over. Initial roots are very fragile so be careful. I do not fertilize until I have leaves and then I use a mild organic (Dr. Earth #8) or a water soluable 10-52-10 every two weeks, I wake plants with sulpomag and close with potassium. Mike is also correct in that the illness comes from realizing that you do not have that one or that one or that one until you are tearing out your rose gardens to make more room for your plumies. Soon every available inch is utilized. Then you start messing with seeds and soon have hundreds of yet unknowns. Remember, there is no Betty Ford Clinic for a serious plumiaholic.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 7:54PM
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nkt38238(Z9 CA)

Well, I finally put Plumeria cutting in pot. I used following soil mixture:

60% Cactus Mix
40% Perlite
pea size pabble stones at top
Cutting size: about 6-8" and 1" diameter

I put the mix in 1G pot, soaked it in water and drained and then planted Plumeria cutting in it.

I have a question:

Now (only from today)that weather is getting warmer in bay area (N. CA), should I be keeping it in SUN during daytime at all?

I heard somewhere that you need to keep this pot in shade for first 2 weeks. And, then start putting it under sun during daytime. Is this right?

I am not sure what is the right thing to do at this point. Please advise. Thanks.

Here're some photos:

Plumeria in Pot

Plumeria Cutting

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 7:26PM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

For me the most important thing in rooting a cutting is bottom heat. I usually put my cuttings on concrete in the sun so that the bottom of the pot is heated by the concrete. Because they are in the sun, I don't use pea gravel. I had cuttings burned when the sun heated the gravel touching the cutting. I usually bury the cutting deep enough to keep it upright without support. If I need support, I use a stake.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 9:33PM
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nkt38238(Z9 CA)

Thanks, Mike, for the information...good point about stone heating up and possibly buring the cutting. oh well, it's late for me to make changes at this point.

should I be putting pot in shade for first 2 weeks or should pot be put under sun right away during day time?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 10:32PM
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frangipaniaz(z9 Az)

I've been putting mine outside in the sun, and at this point I just leave them there, and I'm in Phoenix... we've already hit 95... just a thought... but with the gravel, you might want to make adjustments... maybe you can scoup the gravel out and replace with soil and perlite

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 3:16AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

I use pumice next to my cutting because it does not get too hot. You can just run your finger around the stem and put in a half inch ring of perlite to keep the stem cooler. The rest of the rock is fine and will hold heat. Brittany, I wish it would hit 95 here, we have been in the sixties and seventies only in So.Cal. I put reds, good pinks and oranges in partial sun for the first two weeks. I find whites and yellows do not seem to matter. As Mike says, bottom heat is the critical part. I have many of mine on three inches of rock or on a concrete slab where heat is retained. good luck.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 12:03PM
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I like to use 2 pieces of styrofoam. Wedge them between the cutting and the side wall of the pot. When the cutting has rooted all you have to do is slip the styrofoam right out.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 1:47AM
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tbenton(Z7 VA)

I got two plumeria cuttings this spring and they rooted fast and are in separate 8 inch pots and are now about a foot high and growing well in full sun. I am in zone 7 in Virginia and its hot in the summer and humid but I am very concerned about what to do with them in the winter so that they do not lose their leaves. I have plants lights on my ceiling in living room as I have tropicals and houseplants in there year round.

I also wonder how old/big they have to be to bloom. I am so excited to have these exotic plants. And finally...when do I put in larger containers?



    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 12:15PM
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My sticks are still in the beginner pots.They are sprouting from the top. Where do I go from here?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 10:46AM
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Thank you all for the great ideas.. I will plant mine in a black pot with the potting mix suggested..I will rig up something to keep the bottom warm the branch steady(I like the styrofoam on the sides. Outside isn't an option yet,still too cold at nite and even the days sometimes.. Wish me luck...

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 4:58PM
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