Fertilizing plumerias

plumeriagirlApril 13, 2007

hi everyone!

it's been a while since i've been on. my plumeria's are starting to wake up and i'm so excited. last year they did really well. they grew quite a bit and they were lush with lots of leaves but no flowers. i never fertilized them....i never knew what to use. can someone help me with choosing a fertilizer. all of my plumeria's are in pots. some are cuttings that i recently planted...no leaves yet and not sure if there are any roots.

i would love to see my flowers this year. can you recommend a fertilizer specifically formulated for my babies?

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musarojo

Hi Plumeriagirl,

For your rooted plumeria, a bloom fertilizer with a high middle number would be the way to go when they are past the just waking up stage. For your new cuttings, donÂt fertilize until it is clear they are growing leaves. Growing leaves = rooted. New cuttings sometimes send up inflos and produce flowers before they root, so flowers are not a reliable indication that the cutting is rooted. Fertilizing questions are one of the most common questions a new grower has, so I have included a link to past threads about fertilizing.

Philip

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizer Info

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 3:47AM
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kevabear(9)

Wow, Nice link there Philip! Gotta get to work now, but will most certainly looking through all those fertilizing tips there!

Thanks! Lauri

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 7:23AM
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plumeriagirl

Thanks for the response philip. I have heard that the middle number should be high but I'm confused because I went to a plumeria cutting sale out here in San Diego and they told me that I shouldn't go with a higher number. It was the Southern California Plumeria Society. They had their own special mixture of fertilizer for plumerias they were selling. It was 3-12-12 mixture. They disagreed that the middle number should be high. I am very confused. I bought a bag of their fertilizer...we'll see. Do you know what the breakdown of the fertilizer means and does it make sense?
I just want to have healthy plumeria's with tons of flowers?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 2:09AM
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musarojo

The numbers stand for the percentage by weight of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer. The simple explanation for what they do is nitrogen promotes leaf growth, phosphorus promotes flowering (and roots), and potassium promotes vigor and hardiness (and roots). So your fertilizer is formulated to produce necessary leaves and emphasize flowering and the root system.

Different people have their own ideas about what works best for them and use different fertilizers. Some people use different fertilizers at different times of the year. When I lived in California I was in this group. I would give the plants more nitrogen when they first woke up, give more phosphorus during the majority of the season to push flowering, and the final feedings would have more potassium to prepare for winter. I wasnÂt concerned about plant size then, and the high nitrogen early in the year caused the plants to grow tall or spread, depending on the variety.

Now I have to think about winter storage, so smaller will be better. I am going to do a bit of research into fertilizing using percentages similar to the ones in your fertilizer. In Arizona, winter hardiness is more important than it is in California and huge sprawling plants are a drag to store in the winter. So my new ideal plant will be compact and hardy, which your fertilizer seems to be formulated to produce.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 6:19AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Phillip is right on. Since most people like an easy fix, a high middle number is found it water soluable bloom mixes that you put in a sprayer and spray all over the plant and ground. No real studies have been run so far so most of the data is from growers and collectors. Professionals are trying to make money so they may not go for the more expensive brands. collectors with large collections often do not want to spend the time to care for each of hundreds of plants. Therefore the results are quite mixed. It does appear that plumies do well on just about anything. I use a more expensive Dr. Earth Bloom (4-10-7) which is full of good stuff for soil building and micronutrients. I also use superthrive and spray n grow as these I feel add trace elements and good stuff that makes healthy leaves. I use a 10-52-10 by growmore water soluable but this year I am trying more Dr. Earth and less spray. In August and September I use a growmore 0-50-30 to harden up the plants for winter. I also throw in some growmore seaweed extract regularly as a great soil additive. What is important is that you flush the salts out of pots every few months so you do not accumulate too much. I may go overboard but this is a passion and every day is valentines day for my plumies. Bill

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 12:54PM
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mickeyperreaud(z9AZ)

Philip,
Hi, you're in Sedona right? How long have you been growing plumeria there? What kinds are you growing?
Mickey
Cave Creek

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 3:49PM
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kbauman

Hi Philip and all.
A month ago today, I transplanted two large 5' plumeria plants..from mud to good soil. WAtered good, to get out all ickies, b-1 ST.. Using water meter, In some areas are still wet, or moist, can put my finger down is moist too. Was very warm when I did this, cooled down

Want to feed them, one is putting out leaves in lg reptangle container, other red claws all over. am I going to always have a problem with this In big containers, not totally sure when to water? Freak out, one I could not get the mud totally out of the gnarled roots round tub..Top of soil had a Toad Stool growing!!! ick and shock to the max!!!
Karen B.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 5:20PM
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plumeriagirl

Thanks for all the feedback from musarojo and tdogdad. That helps out alot. Tdogdad....wow...you are pretty serious about your plummies...thats great!! I don't think I could get that technical with fertilizer though. :) I'll try what I have now and maybe add in a little later.
BTW, What do you mean by flushing out the salts?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 5:31PM
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musarojo

Hi Mickey,

I just moved to Sedona last fall from Orange County and brought a few small plants with me. The only named one in the group is Princess Victoria, which I had just rooted late in the year. So I really havenÂt been growing Plumeria in Sedona. I know it can be done, because relatives of mine moved here from Southern California several years ago and have been growing plumeria I gave them when they lived in Orange County.

About a month ago I bought a lot of cuttings on eBay. They are now in my backyard rooting. This is a learn as I go project on how to root plumeria outdoors in the high desert. I want to get them rooted before the monsoon season starts. Right now nighttime lows are just barely within the acceptable range. In the planning stage I briefly considered an unorthodox idea that would have lead to disaster. Another lesson IÂve learned is that pumice is a rare and valuable commodity that canÂt always be obtained on short notice.

Philip

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 6:39PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Plumeriagirl- To flush out a pot, it is best to wait until a warm day is predicted. In the morning, put a slow running hose into a pot and let it fill the pot but not overflow. Fix the speed so the water runs through the pot for about three minutes per pot. I put pots on the lawn so I get double use. The water absorbs the salts and flushes out of the pot. If the pot overflows but does not drain through, check your drain holes for root blockage. If so, root prune your pot or drill out the holes and drill extra holes in the pot and root prune in the winter next year. pots should be root pruned every 3-4 years to add new soil to rejuvinate the plants health and increase flowering. Root pruning 5 gal pots is very easy. The bigger pots become exponentially more difficult as you go up in size. I have a few that I am trying to devise some way to lift the plants out of the pots to prune the bottom 2 inches and re-soil. When I do it I will take pictures of the process. Hope this helps. Bill

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 7:50PM
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musarojo

Hi everyone,

Watering is the other big topic for people who grow plumeria, so we might as well cover it in the same thread.

Rules for watering plumeria:

1. When in doubt, donÂt water, especially early in the year or when dealing with new cuttings.

2. When they have leaves, water them like they are moisture loving tropicals as long as they have good drainage. Plumeria hate wet feet.

3. In the fall, reduce watering to prepare them for winter.

4. In the winter do not water, or give only a tiny amount of water if the stems are really shriveled and stressed. Warning! Warning! Warning! Be very cautious and conservative if you do decide to give a bit of water while they are in winter storage. If the plants are kept outside in a mild winter climate like Southern California, make sure the plants have very good drainage so they donÂt sit in water after a winter rain. Do not deliberately water plumeria during a California winter unless they have held on to their leaves, and even then be cautious; winter rains will probably be more than enough.

5. Remember that plumeria are succulents that mimic leafy tropicals during their active growing season. TheyÂre not as hardcore about being succulents as cactus or euphorbia, but they will rot just like any other succulent if they get too much water when they are inactive.

Karen, you just transplanted the plumeria into new soil, so fertilizing isnÂt a priority for a few weeks. ItÂs still early in the season, so donÂt water since you have doubts about whether or not watering is a good idea right now. You drilled a lot of extra holes in the pots, so you should be ok. If you have any lingering doubts, put them under your eves this winter to protect them from rain. The percentage of pumice in your potting soil will tend to go up as organic matter "evaporates" over time, so drainage should improve. In a few years, when this yearÂs potting ordeal isnÂt as fresh in your thoughts and muscle tissue, you can root prune and repot.

Philip

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 10:03PM
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kbauman

HI Phillip
that was funny when "this years potting isn't as fresh in your thoughts and muscle tissue.. that got me tickled.. ha

thanks appreciate the advise.>I got 5 leaves on the big round mud one, so guess I did something right. ok..not used to having those big planters, will have to learn on them.

You mentioned you have done your cuttings, is pretty cool where you are? here at night too. Are you watering much at all then?

I have barely watered at all. Some are very dry. I watered one lightly and instantly went over to the center where it was straight plumice..would think be ok if warm, but too cool. So on a couple have had to scoop out the wet center and put in dry. I have never had any luck growing cuttings, rotted so many last year..so this year want to try and do it all correct..hope hope.
Karen

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 11:51PM
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musarojo

Hi Karen.

I planted my cuttings when nighttime lows were in the 50Âs.The lows have since dropped back into the 40Âs, which isnÂt great but should only slow things down a bit until the temps go back up. My observations have shown me nighttime lows in my neighborhood are a few degrees higher than the official temps. My relatives across town have lower nighttime temps than I do. Daytime temps are in the 70Âs to low 80Âs.

I used BillÂs bottle method for making a central planting cavity in the middle of the pot filled with perlite and pumice, which I think will save my cuttings from rot. I havenÂt watered since planting. It rained here several days ago and the cold front that came with the storm is what lowered the temperatures. The pumice/perlite cavities in the pots are dry, while the soil/pumice mix around the cavities is moist. The constant wind will dry the soil mix out again fairly soon.

I really want them rooted before the monsoon storms start. It rains every afternoon from mid-July until about mid-September. Because this is a mild El Nino year, the monsoon may start early. I think I only have a short window for outdoor rooting from mid-spring to early summer. I may be the only person who has ever attempted to root plumeria outdoors here.

Philip

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 1:13AM
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plumeriagirl

Thanks to everyone for the great information and advice!! This is the first time I have every planted cuttings. I have about 20 cuttings...some bought and some given to me. I hope they make it!! It's so exciting!!! I can't wait to see the first bloom!!

:)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 1:17AM
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mickeyperreaud(z9AZ)

Philip,
Hi, I can't belive you are trying to root outside. It's still too cold for me to try. I have all my rooting plumeria still insides. I just got my plants out side in the Arizona room. I had to put them back inside one night because it got too cold. I left my big ones in the green house because of the strange cold weather. It was in the low 40's the other day here; too cold for me.
Mickey

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:59AM
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kbauman

Hi Phillip,
Got it, damp around can, dry in center, answered my question. We are having a lot of heavy wind, under my patio for protection. I got one last year, plastic pink, to make it, that was it, many failures.

I have two cuttings that I have not planted yet, how long can they hold?

Monsoons are awful, do remember them living in Tucson. If anyone can grow plumeria, bet you do!!!
Karen B.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 3:06AM
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musarojo

Hi Mickey,

In San Juan Capistrano, where I used to live, the average lows for April are only a few degrees higher than what I experience here and the daytime highs are much lower in Spring and Summer. I have my pots on black plastic to cause the ground beneath them to absorb more heat in the daytime and I have my cuttings in dark pots so they absorb more heat. My house seems to be in the middle of a local heat island, because my nighttime temps are always higher than the weather predictions. IÂm gambling that spending all day photosynthesizing in full sun and warm daytime weather will compensate for less than ideal nighttime temps. I have to admit IÂm not thrilled that temps dropped back into the 40Âs several weeks after I potted my cuttings up and put them outside, but at worst I think this will just slow them down until temps go back up.

Philip

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 3:52AM
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musarojo

Thanks for the compliment Karen. IÂve read that under ideal conditions plumeria cuttings can be held for two years.

Philip

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 4:00AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

I found a picture of my next root pruning nightmare. This Royal Hawaiian is going to need some serious engineering to remove from this pot, prune, and then repot. My back is not going to let me do it without equipment. Bill

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 1:41AM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

Bill,
Figuring in the cost of the medical visits for your back, transportation to those visits, pharmaceuticals, etc. it may be cheaper to just break the pot! LOL
Mike

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 1:38PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Thanks mike. Actually I have a 13" pointy saw so now I need some sort of engine puller and a scaffold so I can cut, winch up and cut the bottom, repack and lower into place. I plan to attempt it next winter so I have 8-9 months to think about ideas. Unfortunately, I have about 8 more slightly smaller plants in similar pots to consider and some of them are much harder to get to and to move. This one I just leaned over and drilled a dozen new holes in the bottom with a masonary bit which was a temporary fix. I am at a point where a forklift would be such a useful thing (a bit too expensive I'm sure). Mike- I put some pictures of my new bottle rooting on the post about rooting tubes. Check it out as I think it might be a useful method for some of those longer cuttings and for space saving too. I will let you know how it goes but so far all are off to a good start. Bill

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 2:08PM
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mickeyperreaud(z9AZ)

Bill,
You have some real nice looking plants! Are you going to sell some of the cuttings? How old are your larger trees?
Mickey

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 2:09PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Mickey- My plants range from 11years down. I got that Royal Hawaiian in about 2001 or 2. I started keeping a log in 2003 and I had a note that it was still dormant in March of 03. Being a true plumiaholic, I only cut plants when they are getting in the way of another plant or need shaping. therefore my oldest plants which are commons have the most cuttings. These I give to parks, schools or friends and neighbors. I notice that when a plant gets around a decade old, you begin to get many cuttings from it. The majority of my quality plants were picked up from 2004 to 2006 so they are still young and small. This year I was planning on cutting some five year old plants but the big Calif freeze got about 12 of them and only 6 are showing signs of life. I had to do some serious cutting and I tossed the cuttings because all the tips were mushed out. I am still hoping that Heidi, Cerise, Intense Rainbow, Grove Farm and an Aztec Gold recover. I have back-ups for all except Heidi, but the back-ups are 2 feet tall (the hedge was 6-8 feet tall) HEART BREAKING!!! There still is hope. I would say that in about three years I will be looking to get rid of some good cuttings but for now I mostly have common ones. If you come out to the garden show in two weeks or come to Orange Co. e-mail me and you can see what I have. Bill

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 4:33PM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

Bill,
Sorry to hear that your hedge was damaged. I think about that hedge a lot since my new community has restrictions on what you can do with landscaping. Fences are not allowed, but you can plant a hedge as long as it is not over 4 feet high. I have several plumeria that I rooted that branch fairly close to the soil line, so I could plant them and keep them reasonably close to 4 feet with enough branches to make an attractive "hedge" where I would like some screening, such as around my patio area. I will probably wait until next year to do it to allow those plants to mature a little bit more.

Take care. I appreciate all the help you give on this board.
Mike

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 6:34PM
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organic_kermit(6)

Wow, thanks for all that info. I was recently given my first plumeria. It is a rooted cutting from a friend. The parent is a NOID. My friend was born in Hawaii but now lives in Colorado. Her tree puts out leaves every year but has never had blooms. I have been wondering if it was a lack of fertilizer. The tree is about 8 years old and is a good size.
So I am an orchid lady mainly, and from what I am reading it sounds as though I should treat it kind of like an orchid, right?
I live in CO with some pretty fierce sun. And so it also is sounding like when I take it outside in the summer, since I don't know the variety that I have, I should keep it on my eastern porch as opposed to the southern one.
Am I correct in my absorbtion of all the info here?
Thanks, Shani

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:31PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Mike. You know how I like to experiment. Well your hedge got me thinking. If you grew some plants into 5 or 10 gallon pots, you could put slightly larger pots into the ground about three feet apart. You could then put some of your pots into theses sunken pots and fill around with sand or colored gravel. You could then cover over the pot with gravel or mulch so you would not know it was there. This would allow you to rotate plants and also to replace plants while you are pruning or waiting for pruned branches to regrow for the one year needed to get to flowering state again. You would just pull out the pot, scoop out the sand or rock from the sunken pot. Put in a new pot and cover. Root prune when the roots grow into the sand/rock. There you have it- a rotating hedge that always is flowing. Just a thought. Bill

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 4:26PM
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mikeod(Z9 FL)

Bill,
Sounds like a good plan. I'll give it a try next year. I was surprised to find that instead of sandy soil I expected in FL, I have really dense clay about 6" below the surface. I'm going to have to create a raised bed like you do to put my plants in the ground either normally or in pots. Digging through the clay is really tough. And I gave my pick to a neighbor when I left CA. Dumb Dumb Dumb
Mike

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 9:14PM
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EAREDNECK

I have a question, I have just started foliar feeding my plumerias which are not named, just a collection of 30+ ranging from new cuttings to ovver 8 feet. I live in Huntsville Tx which is zone 8, I have had more luck bare rooting my plants over pots. We have a pretty rich sandy soil/ acidic/ lots of pine trees and my plants are in full sun most of the day. Do many people bare root for the winter? I used to lose one or more in pots during the winter to rot even without water during the winter. I havent lost one in the last 5 years with bare roots. I enjoy all the info i am getting from all of your posts. thank you

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 9:58PM
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jandey1(TX8)

EA, I think you could teach us all around here a bit about winter bare-rooting! Most of us stick to the old pot-in-the-garage method.

Do you wash off all dirt and put the roots in paper over winter? We'd love to know exactly how you do it.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:38AM
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EAREDNECK

When the temps starts cooling off and the nights get into the low 60s the older leaves will start yellowing. I usually strip the leaves off where they are planted and let the sap dry for a day or so leaving some around any spikes to protect them. then i loosen the soil, pull them up and shake carefully so none of the limbs break and stash them in a dry corner of the greenhouse off the ground on n old wire gate set on cinderblocks and lean them carefully in the corner. The bigger they are getting the more height i need, its only about 8.5-9 ft in that corner. may have to move some this year...i really love my plumies! When i saw my first big one in the ground at the honolulu airport...no words...

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 3:33PM
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jandey1(TX8)

Interesting. So you don't have to remove absolutely all the soil from the root ball?

Have you done this with just mature (woody, four-year-old and older) plumerias, or with young plants, too? Several posters around here have had disastrous results with bare-rooting younger plumies.

How low do your temps get in Huntsville and in your garage?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 9:44AM
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EAREDNECK

it usually stays 55-60 in the "greenhouse". it can drop to 45 during the night but not for long. i keep a fan blowing on the plumeria to prevent any moisture from collecting on them. usually the newly rooted ones have been in the ground since spring and have moderate roots.. my soil is very sandy and most falls off when i dig them up in the fall. some do have a tendency to be top heavy and i nave to tie them for the first month after i put them out in the spring. i also work any ash from my bar-b-que pit into the soil and they really like it. i am looking forward to next year with my weekly foliar fertilixing!! and soooooo glad i found this site. im learning al whole lot from yall.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 2:21AM
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beachplant(9b)

Phillip, you need a pulley like shade tree mechanics all have in their front yards.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 11:13AM
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kitnor

Some of you talk about root pruning but I cannot find anything about it. I have a 7 yr old Plumeria which I wish to keep the same size. It's in a 20 inch pot which is too hard for me to move in the winter. Can I cut down to a 16 inch pot without killing it. It's been 3 years since last trimming roots about 1 inch and it's not blooming as much any more. Needs to be repotted but I would like to downgrade size of pot if possible.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:59AM
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