Nor Cal/Bay Area growers: How are your plumeria doing?

TruNorth7(8b (SF Bay Area))May 30, 2012

Hello all,

From searching old posts on this forum I know I'm not the only person up here in the SF Bay Area growing plumeria, and I want to know how others are doing.

I'm in Walnut Creek (East Bay) and with the weird weather here my trees have been very slow in waking up. There was more growth during the heat wave 10 days ago (90's), but now there is very little change in growth from day to day. The leafiest of my plants from last year has only 10 leaves between the three tips (lots of claws though).

If you're in NorCal, how are your plumeria doing? Are they slower to wake up than in years past?

How did you over winter them? Bare root, green house, in your dining room (which was my approach)?

What is your fertilizing schedule? How often do you water? Any tricks that have helped your plumies?



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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Rachel,

I wish someone would respond to your request..

Hoping that you have some activity on your trees and please let us know how they are doing...

Always like to hear from you!! : )

Take care,


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 2:49PM
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I'm in the the north bay and all my plumeria are going strong. The crazy weather has made things interesting,still getting lows in the high 40's, but over all things are good. I have had to experiment with moving plants around the yard to find the right micro climate or mix of shade and sun to keep them happy. I have definitely noticed that the plants that get left out even on the colder nights are slow to not growing but are healthy looking. The plants I bring in at night are growing like crazy and loaded with flowers. So I guess it depends on how much hefting you feel like doing to get good results in our crazy area. I over wintered my trees in the corners of my kitchen . I had them in the garage but Rats started eating them like they were corn on the cob. Who knew? One of the things that seems to help my plants is balancing the PH of our water with some vinegar before I soak them. My water is off the chart alkaline so if you haven't checked yours you might want to check it out.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 11:46PM
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valeriev(z9 Bay Area CA)

HI! I'm in San Jose and my plumeria is not doing as well as it has since I moved 3 years ago.

I used to have full morning sun patio (east facing) until about 1pm. Now I have a 3rd floor balcony that still faces east but I don't have direct sun anymore and the sun that I do have is shaded with huge tress. My plumeria is sad. Leaves are growing really slowly.

I don't know really what to do about the sun situation.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 5:45PM
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TruNorth7(8b (SF Bay Area))

Thanks Laura! You're so sweet; you always make people feel welcome. Thank you for being on the forum!

Great advice about checking the water. I'm on ag water (aka from the canal system. Great for my horses, not so great for drinking in the house...) so I'm sure it's all messed up. Where did you have your water tested? Did you buy a kit or did you take a sample somewhere?
My plumeria have been banned from the house until fall. My Sweetheart found the "house guests" offensive. It may not have been the plants so much as the perlite all over the house, courtesy of two very naughty cats. So, alas, I cannot bring them in.
Very strange that the rats chewed on them. I can't imagine all that sap tasted very good. If you every want to borrow bad cats to guard your trees, let me know. (As i type this one of them is scratching the heck out of the couch. Free to good home? just kidding!)

Bummer about the lack of sun. How big is your tree? Do you know what cultivar it is? I have a bunch of (I think) Dwarf Singapore Pinks that seem to like a afternoon shade, but I imagine the rest of 'em would stagnate completely without sun. You could always become the Crazy Lady with grow lights on your balcony ;)

Thankfully the plumeria are kickin' it into high gear. They're finally leafing out with gusto, and my Divine should open its first bloom within a week! I am so excited!!! They've done much better after a foliar spray with seaweed extract, combined with some heat.

It's very nice to know there are other people up here growing plumeria successfully. I was talking to a guy at Navalets trying to find Foliage Pro and told him I was trying to grow plumeria and he said "You can't grow those here! Why would you even try?". Then began the discussion of over wintering in the dining room, the fertilizing routine, reading them bedtime stories, etc.
Thanks everyone!


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 3:18PM
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ericthehurdler(NOR CAL 9a)

im in the Santa Rosa and i have only been growing them for a few years. two winters ago i overwintered them inside under grow lights which worked out okay with one flowering by august. But this last winter i just kept all 5 of mine outside. only one out of the 5 plants survived and is growing very strong now. if it survives another winter outside then im going to consider planting it in the ground!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 2:06PM
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Andrew Scott

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for sharing your story. I hate being told "You cannot grow that here!"

I had a similiar experience many years ago. I went to a local greenhouse that carried some tropicals. I think the most tropical plants that he had was a humungous 8ft tall Bird of Paradise(which I bought a division from), a cymbidium orchid, and a large Ponderosa lemon tree.

HE told me that he had a plumeria at his home that he kept on a heating mat. He said that it when it bloomed, he only would get a few flowers. He said that they are just way too fussy to grow and that was why he didn't carry them, and why he wouldn't even order one in for me!!!

I hate that! I know his intentions were good but I have to say, my plumeria are very easy to grow in comparison to some of the tropicals that I do grow.

I.M.O. the cymbidium orchid is easy to grow but to get it to bloom here, you have to be able to provide it with pretty cool temps during the fall, winter, and spring.

I think that growing plumeria are 10x's easier than ever trying to grow and bloom a cymbidium orchid! I even have better odds getting my plumeria to bloom, then I do my B.O. P.!!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Hi, I'm in the Bay Area (Los Gatos) and I have been overwintering mine in an unheated GHS. I have had some tip dieback in the past, but not the last 2 years. I have improved the insulation over the last 2 years which may have helped. I use a heat mat in the GHS only for tender cuttings like Coleus.
I started some plumeria from seed 2 years ago and they have seemed hardier than my full size tree, keeping leaves almost all winter. The seeds were from Celadyne which is reportedly more cold tolerant (That's why I got them).
Right now they are all leafed out but still in the GHS as we have had some nights in the 40's still. I found through experience that it does not pay to move plants out early :)
I would recommend trying seeds - they are easy to sprout and grow fast. Mine despite benign neglect are about as thick as a regular branch (3/4") and over a foot tall; some even have branches.

My large tree is in a 15 Gallon Black Plastic Pot and seems very happy to be out in the SUN and watered every day. I sunk the pot in the ground 2 years ago, but did not notice any big change in the growth; it did require less watering.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 2:44PM
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TruNorth7(8b (SF Bay Area))

That's pretty lame he wouldn't order one for you. I have to agree that plumeria are easier than most orchids in my opinion. I gave up on orchids a few years ago, mostly due to my two rescued feral kittens who, believing themselves to be Jungle Cats, took a liking to destroying all house plants.
I'm confused about BOPs. Plant Files says it's hardy to 9b, but they are all over the place here. I have a huge one that is in a relatively open and unprotected spot which thrives, despite cold temps. But, I guess I'm a "warm" 8b, since we rarely dip below 30* in winter and NEVER have snow.

That's good to know that an unheated greenhouse would work; I'm hoping to get one to keep all the plants in this winter.
I've contemplated getting some seeds, but I don't know if I'm patient enough to wait years for blooms!
It seems to me that the more sun and heat plumeria get here the better they do. Mind LOVED this most recent heat wave. All of a sudden they've gone crazy!

Thanks for the comments!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Just found this forum! I brought a Plumeria with me from Carlsbad of which I bought from a flea market in Mission Bay San Diego 2 summers ago. I bought a house in Lafayette over by the Lynardi's (680/24 area). I am amazed at how great the plant is growing. I placed it on my back patio facing South. It gets all day sun. Now, It did not lose any leaves nor look unhealthy until I left it out during the recent High 20's temps we just had. Leaves browned up but the shaft of the plant looks great. In Carlsbad, I lost all the leaves in the winter and assumed that would occur here. I use Miracle grow where the middle number is 53 every few weeks. I keep it fertilized with basic fertilizer - nothing special. I have it planted in a 12" wide by 1 1/2' deep clay pot. I use a bamboo stick with a string tied to the plant to keep it straight. It will perk up in the spring and re leaf as it is ugly now but it appears to like the area I am in.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:59PM
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