Pruning plumeria

timetraveler(9b Melbourne Beach FL)March 13, 2010

When I returned home after being away all winter, I found that all but one of my plumeria's branches were growing into the walkway and had to be trimmed off. It's now a very funny looking plant. Will more branches grow from the "trunk" or must I prune off the last one to make that happen? Do I dare?

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mikeod(Z9 FL)

If you cut a branch off right next to the trunk, nothing will grow there. You have to leave 4-6" of stub to get new branches there. I'm not sure what you mean by "prune off the last one". Plumeria don't respond to pruning like shrubs. They are trees. The way to make the plant more "bushy" is to prune side branches leaving the stubs I mentioned above. You will likely get two or more new branches on that stub and you can selectively prune those growing in the wrong direction from the one you desire. On a young plant, you can also cut the top few inches off the plant to encourage side branches to grow.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 8:08PM
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timetraveler(9b Melbourne Beach FL)

I'd like to encourage side branches to grow, but my plant is about 6 years old. The only branch left is growing horizontally from the top of the "trunk". In order to cut the top few inches off the plant, I'd have to cut off the branch too. Would the plant put out side branches if I were to do that, or would it be more likely to die? Is there any other way to encourage side branches?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 9:36PM
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dpolson37(7a VA)

Hello Timetraveler, I'm not sure if you know of this place, but it might be a good reference for you living so close. Check out Sun Harbor Nursery at 920 East Eau Gallie Blvd. in Indian Harbour Beach, FL 32937. I headed down there next week and I've heard the owner is really great to talk to about plumerias so I'm sure he'll be more than willing to help out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sun Harbor Nursery

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 11:32PM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

If I understand correctly, you now have a single trunk with a single side branch near the top. To develop side branches, you could trim a few inches off the top, including the side branch. The plant will develop new branches from the old leaf scars near the cut end. Unfortunately, you are at the mercy of the plant as to how many branches will develop. My experience is to expect at least two new branches, but they may not be in the direction you desire, i.e., they may be headed back toward the walkway. After they develop a bit, you could prune them to 6" and let more new branches develop. Remember, you will not get blooms on these new branches for about a year.

An alternative could be to prune the lone side branch to about 6". It will develop new branches near the cut end. My concern with this is that you may wind up with a plant that has an ""S" shape at the top.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 10:07AM
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timetraveler(9b Melbourne Beach FL)

Your understanding is correct, Mike. I will follow your advice, although it will be hard to force myself to do it. Thank you for your help.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 10:25AM
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i too am heading back to paradise next week (mb). dave at sun harbor has been a wealth of info and help. all the ones i've cut have put out new branches at the tips where an old leaf has fallen off.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 10:53AM
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timetraveler(9b Melbourne Beach FL)

And here I thought I was the only sunbird in town! Where do you spend the winters?
I cut back my plumeria drastically a week ago. The ends have crusted over, but I haven't seen any new growth yet. To be fair, my other ones haven't leafed out yet either.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:09PM
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