Plumeria Newbie, Hoping I'm Starting Right

ThePablo(9)July 28, 2012

Hi All,

So I had this bright idea of becoming a Plumeria grower, pick it up as a hobby because I love the flowers they produce. Did some research, shopped around, and finally got what I think is the starter kits. Found a vendor from Maui who sent me 4 cuttings of different varieties and so thought I would get them started here in the Bay Area California. Weather has been 70-90s daily, then probably a low of in the 50s. I went out and bought a greenhouse, nothing fancy:

My questions.

1) Is the sun beating down through the greenhouse with my cuttings too hot for the plant?

2) I've got black on the tips and some of the flowers that were growing on the cuttings, were those caused by direct sunlight? Right now getting about 7-9 hours of direct sunlight if not 6-7 hours.

3) Do I need to have these under shade?

4) Once I plan my cuttings, I'm going about 6 inches deep, water it initially, then as needed (roughly every weekend if not 10 days.

5) I bought the MiracleGro Bloom Booster, had a high phosphorous and only one I could find with high count. Should I be using this weekly, bi-weekly or monthly?

I really hope I'm not killing my plants, and would love any lessons this community could provide. I can't find one central location, and very new to this forum so there might be some things here. But any suggestions is greatly appreciated. I'm finding mixed suggestions on getting started on different sites. So whatever has worked for you would be awesome. If necessary for you guys, I can definitely add my cuttings as they are right now so you can get an idea of where I'm at. I did go back to the vendor from Maui in regards to the black tips, and they were more than willing to send me two new cuttings, which I just received today. So I'd love to get these going the RIGHT way. Thanks and look forward to hearing form you all.

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I'm by means no expert but I will try to reply.

4 & 5. I was always told to plant them no deeper than 3 inches because roots form from the bottom of the cutting. You are suppose to only water them once and that is after you put them in the dirt. If you water so soon afterwards you could rot it because there is no roots to absorb the water. The only time you water again is when you have several leaves that are anywhere from 4-8 inches long. But just because it has leaves, doesn't mean it's fully rooted. It takes about 90 days to develop a full root ball. I also heard that if you have 2+ rows of leaves, then its rooted as well, but I don't know if that saying goes for all cuttings since some are fast rooters and some on the other hard are slow / difficult. Some say if you think it needs a drink, water sparingly around the rim. In my honest opinion, I think it'd be to early to give it fertilizer because the cuttings don't have any roots to absorb the food.

I hope someone else stops by to give you more proper information. And btw, what cuttings did you get? :) Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Again I also am no expert, but when my parent plant had a branch break off I just shoved it into the soil enough so it would not fall over then watered it on a regular schedule as I would for any of my plants. I did have it in an area that got sun from noon until about 5 with little shade. Maybe it was just luck but it never lost any leaves, in fact it bloomed more than the parent plant. No plant should receive fertilizer at the start as it will burn the tender new roots. Not for a few months I would expect being as they take a while to root even after they start to put on leaves.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 10:09PM
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Thanks Kim and Wally, this definitely helps. I plan on potting them tomorrow, and will take the advice.

The four cuttings were the following:
1) Maui Red Dragon
2) Maui Sun
3) Makawao
4) Wailuku

I have a feeling I may have over watered them. Any way I can let them go without water and rescue them?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 3:25AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I'm not too familiar with your climate, but my guess is everything will get too hot in that little greenhouse. Your plants may cook. You'll need to keep the door wide open. You should keep a thermometer in there and monitor temps during warm parts of day. It shouldn't get much more than 95 degrees.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 7:32AM
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stormys_mom(Md 7a)

First off welcome to the forum! There are so many good people here, I know you will enjoy it and learn many things.
Let me suggest the search feature of this forum. You can type in what you want to learn and all posts with answers will come up for you to read. I learned so much this way, but do not ever feel like you cant ask a question here, people may be busy but someone will always answer.

Ok I am not an expert, just the opposite, I am a newbie also, but I have learned so much here

I am assuming when you say cuttings, they are without roots?
Let me explain a little of what others have taught me here.

With a new cutting ( no visible roots ) you need to remove all leaves and inflos (flower stems with flowers) Your cutting is without roots and the leaves and inflos will take so much energy from the cutting rooting it will be slow if at all. Also if the cutting was sent with the leaves and inflo intact I am assuming it is a new cutting. The bottom needs to callous over before you plant it. I leave mine out for at least 10 days to dry and callous over, that is where your roots will come from.
Now after it has calloused over, I soak in a solution of superthrive which you can find at home depot and water while I am getting my pot and soil ready. I know some people soak for a few hours as well.
To pot your cutting I suggest using a clear container. I use empty water bottles, that way you can see roots without moving it around to look. roots are delicate when they first start so do not mess with it.
Bottom heat is very good for the rooting process. I use a seed heating mat. You can find those on ebay or some hydroponic stores carry them.
I have the same greenhouse as you. I dont know about your humidity but I do think 90 degrees will most likely sunburn your cuttings. I learned this the hardway and lost a lani that way. To root my cuttings I pot them in waterbottles (holes in the bottom) water them in once till water runs out the wholes and leave it alone. Also I use a rooting hormone to help speed it up. Once you have soaked it, put some rooting hormone on a paper towel and roll the cutting around on the paper towel and make sure you get the bottom of the cutting covered as well. pot it maybe 3 inches or so in the soil or whatever potting medium your useing. put it on a heat mat and leave it be. No water, the cutting has water stored inside and doesnt need it to root. If you keep watering it, you are more apt to rot it. When you see about 6 or so leaves about 5 to 6 inches long you know it has started the rooting process. I spray the tips of mine when I have a couple of leaves, just do not let water run down the stem.
Good luck and I hope I have helped a little. We learn from each other and I am hoping someone else with more experience will come and answer more.
Just have patience, thats the key to rooting.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:19AM
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For rooting a new plant I think it needs to be dryer and I think there is enough sun and heat right now that a green house is not absolutely necessary (based on your weather description). Water once and no fertilizer until you have a good head of leaves. Search for posts about rooting new cuttings. There is one with pictures which should help.

You can keep them in the greenhouse as its attractive as long as there is partial shade and the door is rolled up like Dave said. Maybe consider not using the top shelf.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:21AM
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Wow, those were a great explanations after my last post. The more I read what should be done the more I feel like I did do it wrong. Will go ahead and clip off the leaves that are existing, and stop watering. Also, going to place them elsewhere. I left them in the greenhouse for like 1-2 days and it was hot those days, so took them out; I imagine it was over 100 inside. The same time I had a Hibiscus in there, killed its leaves. Went from green to dead in those same 1-2 days. Have been trying to save that plant too, no luck.

I really do appreciate your help, will utilize this forum a lot more now that I know about it, so thank you all again. I will also post pics shortly and maybe get some feedback if they're too far gone or can I save them, and how. THANK YOU!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Here are some pics of my Plumeria, hoping they aren't dying. One, I just started cutting the dead parts, you can see the black leave in the soil.





    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Oops, updated with pics this time. If anyone with tips see something out of the ordinary, your suggestions are greatly appreciated on how I can better these and not kill them.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 3:12PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Well, my first observation is that cuttings number #1 and #2 look pretty bad. Doubt they will make it. Looks like sunburn or too much heat got to them. Did they cook in greenhouse? Did you cut the tip off first cutting?

Cutting #3 looks burnt as well, but is it still firm? Cutting 4 may be OK. Hard to say if these will make it though. They may have cellular damage that is not visually apparent.
Don't let the cuttings experience anything over 90 degrees unless given good ventilation and part shade. Do not water until you see leaves. It may be too late for them. Hard to say.

You should not get black tips if cuttings were healthy. Usually healthy cuttings are green near the tips. If they turn a sickly yellowish, chances are they got baked or were overwatered.

Again, it's hard to say without observing them by either squeezing them, or checking their bases for rot or more closely observing their tips.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Hi Dave,

Thank you for your observations, and I am sure you're correct. For #1&2 I've tried cutting down until I found cleaner root, but a lot of it is the brown you see in #1. #3 is a little firm, I also cut that down, hoping it can make it. #4 I believe is definitely still living, cut barely anything and it was right away clean and white. I did notice squishy ness in a few of them. I've learned my lesson on watering/fertilizing.

I bought a simple thermometer to test how hot that greenhouse can get, and at 10AM with full sun exposure and not even at its hottest, above 120 degrees, oops. Unfortunately I think I killed #1&2, also killed a hibiscus the same way, though back then it was way hotter those days. I guess I was naive and not thinking about it. I've learned my lesson, greenhouse is for the winter not during summer.

I bought a new hibiscus yesterday and potted my two new cuttings. Everything is out in the open, under a sun shade with lots of sun during the day, so won't get sunburned.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:42PM
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No-Clue(So Cal Zone 9)

Hi there...

I agree your cuttings don't look well. :(. Sorry.

But this is a learning process. I killed my first four cuttings as well. The 3 I rooted recent look ok but who knows. I find it a lot harder than it looks. Just keep trying and learn from the experts here. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Yeah - definitely no greenhouse in the summer, although when the temps get cooler it will make a big difference. I'm in inland Southern California where it gets a little chilly in the winter, and putting the plumeria in a portable greenhouse similar to yours kept several of my plants from going dormant this past winter, even without a heater in there with them. In the summertime, though, they get partial shade, or morning sun/afternoon shade, for the most part, and seem to really like it.

Definitely search this forum for info about rooting cuttings - there's a ton of good information here. When you find posts that you like, you can click on the link in the upper right corner of the post that says "clip this post" and Gardenweb will save it for you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Thanks NoClue & Daogirl, all great tips and encouraging. Thanks for the heads up on clippings, this will make my searching so much easier. Ran in to this issue yesterday with wanting to save some posts, but don't want to bookmark.

I too will keep at it, and learn to do this. Here in San Jose we don't have too many freeze spells during winter, but we do get one or two spells that go a week long, so hoping this will come in handy then. I will look this up, but thought I'd ask the question as well; direct sun vs under a sunshade. I'm going to try under the sunshade, my in-laws have their 100 or so Orchids under there and they didn't have a problem.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:21PM
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