I got it, now what do I do with it? (pics)

moonie_57June 8, 2012

My first plumeria came from a little mom and pop garden shop. It was the one that my husband loved the scent of so much. A couple of years ago she had another one but didn't want to sell it, a different variety, I'm sure. Several times I've been back and she wouldn't part with it.

But, today, she sold it to me for $13. I'm happy with the purchase but unsure of how to go about bringing it to it's best.

In the pics you can see that it has 3 trunks. Or more like the smaller two may have been cuttings that she just stuck down into the pot with the mother plant. It would be my best guess, what do you think?

I would like to take cuttings. I could get a 4 tip, a 2 tip, and two single tip cuttings. The largest one I would like to cut above the Y but could I be sure of it branching from there? Nah? I didn't think so, but what are my chances? :)

It was kept in a not so sunny location and I'm figuring this is why it has not so many leaves. The poor thing just needs some help! Should I take cuttings or leave it for now?

Attached are some photos but I'm not the photographer in the family so no fair laughing at either my gangly plumeria or my photo taking abilities. :)

See the little nubbie on the left side of the far right trunk? What should I do about this little single-leaf nub? Anything?

I await your wisdom! :)

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tdogdad(Zone 9)

best to cut it next early spring. If you leave about a foot of branch above the y it will usually branch off of that. The cutting needs to dry a week and then can be planted indoors under lights or wait until outside heats up and then plant. Water only once then mist the tip while rooting. It takes 6-10 weeks. New branches on the stem below the cutting will start growing as the plant gets going for the spring. Use the search section of this forum for more info.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Thanks. I really did want to wait til later to cut it back. Then I got to thinking about some of other posts I've read concerning the growth habit of different varieties.

This one kind of reminds me of Brian's 2-story tree that he is threatening with the wood chipper. I have had visions of this one growing in a similar way.

I don't know what this plant is. On the pot it is marked "Tangerine", but I don't know if that may be the scent. The lady said she had 3... a white, a pink and a yellow. Obviously, I bought the white awhile back so that leaves this one to being either pink or yellow. In my searches, I have found a VERY rare Tangerine Plumeria, and it is white with yellow center. (Love how they are all so rare!) Anyway, I'm thinking she may have marked it by scent, and she can't remember.

Well, the point I was getting at is should I even cut that one main trunk back? And also, those other two that look like they may be cuttings stuck into the same pot, could I dig them out, root and all? And should I wait to do that next spring, too?

Would love to know what those of you with more experience would do!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Andrew Scott

Hi Moonie,
IF you really want the EXPERTS advice, you just got it! Bill is one of the more experienced growers here, and his advice is excellent..right on the money in my opinion.

If this poor plumeria was neglected as much as you say it was, then you really don't want to fuss with it too muc this year. Trust me, I know it can be really hard to not do something, to speed it along so it can grow into the beauty you want it to be, but at this point, if you go digging it up, or cutting it back, you may do more harm than good. I would hate to have you report back that you pruned it and then the tree died. It can happen, TRUST ME, it happened to me with my NEbel's Gold, and that tree wasn't even neglected!

I cut it back SEVERELY, and it died. I cut it back to the trunk, and I didn't leave enough for it to grow new buds. I got 3 or 4 nice sized cuttings, and NONE survived. I sent out 2 or 3 to friends, and there's all died!

If I were you, I would pick up some Foliage Pro, follow the directions on the bottle, and then just gradually introduce it to full sun.

Next year you can implement your ideas. As far as taking out the other plumeria, I would try to bare root it. That way you have a better chance at seperating all those root systems without tearing the roots apart from the other plumerias.

You have a nice tree there with great potential! Congrats! Just try to be patient, and you will be rewarded!

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:23AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Good advise Andrew. I would wait until either when you prepare to store or early spring. You remove the plant from the pot and swish it up and down in a bucket or tub of water. This removes the soil. Now you can size up the root mix and if necessary cut between the plants to separate. You can root prune any roots bound or twisted. You can now bare root store or if in spring, replant the plants in new pots. Water with B-1 and water or superthrive and water and wait for new leaves. I like to prune in the spring as the plant wakes up because it now puts energy into growth so new branches are more likely to grow. I have also cut right after blooming in fall but the cuttings have to sit for months waiting for spring as cutting I have found do not root well when going into dormancy and these plants seem to have less vitality later on. I have had a few exceptions. Also if you find Laura's post on root pruning it is very well organized.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Moonie,

You certainly have received some great advice from Bill and Andrew!!! They are very experienced growers ...

I would certainly agree about letting this tree get some TLC from you this year. Give it plenty of sunshine, water it well when dry and let it dry before watering again. We here in VA and NC have had some very hot days lately. My trees have been watered several times this week already. Remember.. Everyone has different weather conditions, so if someone says they water once every week or two weeks...That may be different for "your area" Water the trees when they are dry.. This can even be every three days sometimes in the heat of the summer. There are so many different factors when considering watering habits of others... So, water your tree when it needs water. Only you can tell when it is dry. If you need some help, use a cheap water meter from the Box store, or use a wooden skewer and stick it into the soil and if it comes out clean and dry, water. Don't forget to fertilize your tree. You will see some more growth and then next spring as Bill and Andrew mentioned, you can rootprune into some good fast draining mix and then if you want to prune back some of those branches then you could stagger prune so you might still have some chance of it blooming for you. I personally would not prune it now..and i wouldnt prune all of the branches next spring either. You could prune one branch like Bill said, and root that cutting. Lots of things to think about, i know... But they have given you great advice.

If it wasn't for Bill, my trees would be few and not as healthy as they are now. He is one "experienced" Plumeria grower. I can't thank him enough....

I hope this helps you.

Congratulations on finding this particular tree!!!

Don't worry about those small "nubs" They will continue to grow into branches for you. Let it grow ..

Growing Plumeria takes lots of patience!!! : )

Take care,


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:02AM
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You all are great for helping the newbies get a better understanding of what should and shouldn't be done. We appreciate it. Thank you!

I'm going to trust Andrew and learn by his mistakes. will definitely be waiting for spring to take any kind of action. It very well could be that I got spoiled with my first plumeria and it's perfect shape... ya know, the one my husband liked so much :) I've looked at lots and lots of photos and I see varying growth habits, so it is what it is. Might not do any pruning to the larger stems. We will see next spring.

I've ordered two things... the superthrive and a grafted charlotte ebert from FC. Just had to have the CE! With luck the graft will be a good one! I'm very excited!

I need to order the kit thingy but now I have to find what it was again. Sure I will come across it today as I have lots of time poke around.

Laura - we've had plenty of warm weather but at least this year we have had some sort of spring. So many years we go from cold weather to really hot, unending 90's through September it seems. Is that exaggerating? I don't think so. LOL

I'm off to hunt for your post on pruning. It should prove very enlightening! I just love it when I have time to read on this forum!

Bill - Thanks! I've been doing a lot of reading here and your knowledge has proved invaluable to so many people. I look forward to doing more searches.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Andrew Scott

Hi Laura,
Thank you for all the kind words. Your so sweet! You and Bill have contributed to my success, and if I am truly and experienced grower, its because of all the great advice and tips I recieved here.

Also wanted to comment on your watering advice...SO TRUE LAURA!! We just started warming up again here..so I started moving a few of my plumeria out again. So glad I only moved out about 20 or so, because now were getting all that darn rain that was down around the gulf states!!

I swear, I cannot win! I am just hoping that all this rain will quickly end. All this darn humidity is making it that much harder for the soil to dry.

Oh, BTW..I found yet another inflo on my Thai Super Round! I am very excited about this!

Hi Moonie,
I also wanted to add a little to what laura mentioned about watering. Plumeria actually would rather go a few days on the dry side, than to go with wet feet.

I don't remember who said it here but they were DEAD ON. They said "Plumeria hate being wet, as much as they hate cold temps." If you remember that, you really shouldn't have any problems in regards to watering. I also love the idea of using a wooden dowel, or a bamboo support to check the moisture level of the soil. IF you so do this, you cannot go wrong.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 2:37PM
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Hi Andrew. I was starting to say that I have never had any issues concerning watering but then I got to thinking....... my first plumeria died towards the end of winter a couple of years ago. It had actually been going downhill for some time after experiencing cold temps.

Originally I blamed it on the fact that we were out of town and the heat in my GH went out, possibly for 3 days. At first it showed by the leaves but I didn't worry so much thinking all would be good when it warmed up and it started leaving out again.

Ever so slowly it declined. It appeared that the stem shriveled then rotted from the inside working its way up and down the entire stem. As I said, I had blamed it on no heat in the GH but it could be that I over watered during the winter.

Anyway, I just hate that I lost that plant and that I can't replace it because I don't know the name. I had cut it back where it showed no signs of rot but it never would come back out.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 2:54PM
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TruNorth7(8b (SF Bay Area))

Hi Moonie-
I don't think it's gangly. It's cute! Congrats on getting it; that's a nice plant for $13.

Bill, Andrew and Laura: we would be lost without you! I'm sure all my plants would be dead if not for you all sharing your knowledge. Words cannot describe how much you've helped. And Laura, btw, I LOVED your step-by-step root pruning post. That was great!


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Ahhh, that's so sweet Rachel! I do have to agree that it was a great deal for $13. Funny thing... on the side of the pot, in faded letters it said Abelia, then the $13. I'm pretty sure an abelia was in the pot before the plumie was, then she just sold it for what was marked. For some reason I just find that hilarious. Mostly because I work at a plant farm and we do the exact same thing sometimes. LOL

I still have to find Laura's pruning post. It was my intention of doing that earlier but got waylaid!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Moonie,

Here is the link to my root pruning...

I sure hope this helps...

Your tree is looking great to all of us Plumeria Lovers!!!

Some of mine are so ugly, they are "cute.." : ) I have one tree "Pele" that looks like it went through a nuclear meltdown when the temps were Ahhh... very hot in the greenhouse last year.. Won't mention any names.. Cough, cough... He is still in the dog house for that one.. : ) I now have the temps under control.. This was the only one that looks bad.. So, your tree looks great to me too! : )

You are so right about our temps here.. We can have cool temps and then extreme heat. That is why you need to be careful to acclimate your trees in the spring. It sounds like you have a great handle on yours!!

Good Luck and keep us posted!!


You are so kind to say.... Thank you!!!

So nice to say those comments. I am still learning. We will always continue to search for all of the answers.. and hopefully apply what we learn and see the "rewards" from our beloved trees and plants. They tell us if we are doing a good job!! : ) Just remember its the learning climb to the top to get us to where we want to be.. I hope it takes me a long time to get there.. I always want to be on the climb up and keep learning...

I hope everyone has a wonderful evening!!!


Here is a link that might be useful: Taking A Bare Rooted Tree....

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Laura - Thank you for posting the link! I had actually read it not so long ago but it was nice to refresh my memory. I'm not so sure I have the nerve to completely remove all soil from the roots. Just in case... I've got to get a few more growing before I venture down that path. LOL

Now, I have one more question... can you describe the "typical frangipani" fragrance?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:24PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Moonie,

The "Typical Frangipani Fragrance" to me would be the classic Celadine. That is my opinion of course!!

Some smell this in the Celadine... Sweet lemon fragrance. Some say they smell a suntan lotion fragrance.. Some say it smells like soap... To me this Celadine smells like "Hawaii" : ) It brings me back to the islands. The leis that they make from this tree last a long time too!

It is hard to answer the fragrance question.. everyone has a different opinion on the typical fragrance. I guess that is why i have so many!! : ) I love them all!

Don't worry about taking the big step in rootpruning.. it will be alright when you decide to cut. It really isn't hard to do, especially when your tree is so rootbound it stops growing well for you. It will be asking for help then!!! Just enjoy your tree this summer and keep reading and when the time comes, you will be ready!! No worries!!! : )

Take care,


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Thanks Laura.

Celadine is one of the reason I asked because so often you see it listed as having the typical frangipani scent. Then you'll see it as having a lemon scent, then a coconut scent. That bothers me because I'm a very literal person when trying to learn something. LOL

I may call for you next spring if I decide I need to do some pruning! :)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:44PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Moonie,

I showed you the wrong link... So sorry!!

Here is the one i wanted to post!! I guess i need to go to bed!! : )

I love the Celadine.. Everyone smells something different in this beauty!!!

You can always let me know if you need anything!!! : )

Take care,


Here is a link that might be useful: Root Pruning A Celadine

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 12:47AM
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Moonie, I think of the "classic frangipani" scent as citrus with notes of vanilla, or maybe coconut.

Your new tree looks good; I would let it grow out those nubs until next spring then decide what to do with them. As far as Tangerine goes, I did see a white with yellow center once that was called Tangerine, from Plumeria Hut, I think. You might google it. Good luck and keep us posted!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Laura - that was an incredible post on root pruning. I have used the same technique for other types of plants. It's good to know that pruning like that won't send plumeria into a downward spiral. I root pruned a few bouganvilleas and sadly discovered they are not happy having their roots messed with! It took some recovery time!

Thanks jandey. I'm just more and more sure that the plumie I had that my husband loved so much had to have been Celadine. Now, if my cutting would hurry and mature! I like to keep him happy when he's the one that I depend on when winter prep rolls around. :)

I was mistaken about the Tangerine. Tangerine was written on something else, not my newest plumeria.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:13AM
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