Plumeria flowers turning brown then dying

mattb2003July 7, 2012


I've tried to search on this, but couldn't find a post with exactly this problem. We planted our plumeria stem about 2 years ago, and it has been doing great! This season, the leaves have been growing really well and the plant seems to be doing well despite the dry weather we have here in Colorado. Last year we got about 4 flowers before the growing season ended, so we were excited to see what was going to happen this year. For some reason, the flowers start to grow, but then turn brown and die, either while they are starting to open or before. The picture above is the 4th flower that's doing this (the first 3 turned brown/black and then died). You can also see the other buds have brown spots on them (I apologize that the picture is so dark). The rest of the plant looks great! The leaves are green and a 4th stem is starting to branch off. Anyway, I wanted to see if anyone could tell us why the flowers are dying. We keep the plumeria outside during the summer and it gets lots of sunlight. Any help would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance!

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My guess would be some sort of sucking insect like mites, thrip, etc. attack the young soft tissues.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:20PM
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I agree completely with kms2, I think it's a sucking insect.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 5:07PM
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could you post a pic of the whole tree? seems a bit leggy to me.

what are the growing conditions of your plumie? potted, full sun, fertilizer, etc

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 5:46AM
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Here is a picture of the entire tree. As you can see in the picture it is potted (we're in Colorado). It gets pretty much full sun. We're at about 6,000 feet ASL and it's been around in the mid to high 90's as the high for the past few weeks. It's just starting to cool down now. I originally though that the sun was burning the flowers, but I'm not sure if this is even possible. For fertilizer, last year we used Miracle Grow Bloom Booster and it seemed to work really well, This year we did the same - once in May, and then again a few days ago (I thought it might help with the dying flowers, but doesn't seem to be making a difference). I've also tried spraying Bayer Natria (Insect Disease and Mite) but the first treatment didn't seem to stop the spread of the browning and flowers dying. This is the original soil it was planted in two years ago. We haven't changed the soil or pruned the tree at all, just have let it grow as is.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 10:37AM
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mattb, you know that is a funny place for an inflo to grow since it isn't growing from the tip. I wonder if that has something to do with it. Just a thought, Peg

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:19AM
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You mentioned that the tree have not been pruned, is that inflo from last season?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Yes, it is the same inflo from last season. Last season was the first season that we got flowers (we planted the year before).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:57PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

From my experience, Miracle Grow is the worst fertilizer for long range plants, and especially plumerias. If you google, you will find articles on the negative effects of this formula. I do not know if that is your problem, but I would get away from that product. It is almost like plant crack. The plants grow really fast for a few years and then stops doing well. I know others that have had the same experience.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Matt, your plant looks like it's put all its energy into growing new branches, leaving little for that old inflo. I agree it's probably also being bothered by insects on that inflo.

Unfortunately, plumeria don't thrive in higher altitudes like yours. However, that's not to say yours won't continue to grow and bloom--it looks very healthy--but high altitude and low humidity just aren't ideal and you may find it doesn't live up to its potential. Heck, I've had bud drop on my young plants and I DO live in the ideal altitude/humidity range!

I hope it proves me wrong and blooms like crazy for you next year!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Your plant does look really healthy. I think if the damage is from bugs it may just have been too late to save the already dying flowers, and also sometimes my flowers die after being sprayed.

As jandey said, it could also just be a fluke where you just got bud drop for a reason known only to the plumie! I would keep an eye on it and just watch for any other symptoms. You might see what the recommended treatments are on your insecticide because I still tend to think it's from bugs, but that's just MHO :) if you follow the dosage it wouldn't hurt anything.

At some point this year or next it wouldn't hurt to check your root system, after 2-3 years the plant sure wouldn't be hurt by fresh soil / root prune or repot. Also, if you do feel you want to switch from Miracle Grow fertilizer many people are very happy with Foliage Pro, but there are others that are great as well.

Good luck & let us know how it goes!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Thanks a ton for the input, I greatly appreciate it! I'll definitely check out some other types of fertilizer given the opinions regarding the Miracle Grow. I'll also research some other types of insecticides safe for the flowers, in case what I have is just not cutting it. In following some of these threads, I know that it's good to replant and prune, so I'll look at that after this growing season. I do know that Colorado isn't exactly ideal for Plumeria, but hopefully we can keep it growing.

I'll keep you all posted and thanks again for all of your help!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:42PM
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well, its most likely b/c the inflo is from last season. none of my plumies ever had an inflo last that long. usually once the inflo is done blooming it dries up and falls off.

i used to use bloom booster, but now i just use regular Miracle Gro at half strength.

your plumie looks healthy.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 4:28PM
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