Nebel's Rainbow II: My Ugly Duckling Becomes a Swan

SFLGPlumeAugust 4, 2011

Hey there all,

I'm sorry for another long post--hope you find my tale entertaining/worth reading!

Dave in VA, your Nebel's Rainbow photo is stunning (as are the others btw). It made me remember why I chose this variety as one of my very first trees last year about this time when I made a drive down to Florida Colors. What a fabulous flower.

Early this past spring, my NR showed normal indications of coming out of dormancy, but then, just as claws began to form on its single tip, this newbie watched in horror as it proceeded to turn black. Black tip! What a Debbie Downer!

In a fit of newbie neuroticism I got out my sterilized knife and sliced that tip back 'til I saw only white. LOL that was hard to do!, especially because I knew that even if the tree lived, there was pretty much no way I'd get flowers this year, now that I'd hacked it.

Eventually the leaf scars began to swell and it seemed the plant would make it...but I found myself almost wishing it had died, as each of its attempts at new growth also turned black and became leafless green nubs. Finally, on its fourth attempt, a growth tip successfully emerged, protruding out from the side of the sliced-off top of the trunk and curving up. All season, I've let out a Homer Simpson *cringe* whenever I've looked at it. It's like the Frankenstein of Plumeria:

And for good measure, here's a close-up of that c.f. (the only words for it!):

LOL it's HIDEOUS, right?!?

But anyway, a few days ago I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at the tip and saw this:

woo-HOO!! Nebel's Rainbow flowers are in my near future! If they look anything close to Dave's, I'll be very proud. And next spring, I will have a 20-or-so-inch, multi-tip NR cutting to root :)


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It sounds like that plumeria was pretty challenging to get going this season, but I think your probably really glad you kept it now that there is a flower coming up! This is a great story about why you should never give up on plants! Im looking forward to some bloom pics soon!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 1:24AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


Congratulations on a beautiful inflo emerging....

This a great story about why we should never give up!!!!

"Never judge a book by its cover" LOL...because beauty is what is truly within....

This is your just rewards..

Great job!!!

Take care everyone!!!

Please post pics when it blooms!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 3:07AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Greg, sure looks promising! My Nebels is a bit finicky and is prone to black tip more than others in my collection. I think it might like to be kept warmer in winter than others. Also, it doesn't seem to like cool Springs. But who knows?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 1:16PM
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Furthermore, I believe it doesn't like it when you look at it wrong...or if you wear white after Labor Day...or...LOL

Sorry, I couldn't resist. At any rate... yes, that Nebels is a finicky one. It wasn't exposed to any conditions over the winter that my other plants weren't...and heck, it was a warm winter here.

But as you say, Dave, who knows? These plants are infinitely fascinating to watch...always a bit of mystery as we gaze at those tips...they can be frustrating, too. But, man, I'm having a good time with it!

Alex and Laura: you are both so right. I feel so guilty now that my Nebels is rewarding me even as I cursed it all summer and called it "FrankenPlume". My lesson has been duly learned. Never give up on a plant.

One lingering question I have, though: from reading this forum for the last 18 months, I gathered that the cardinal rule is that if you cut a tip, forget about flowers for that season on the new branches. So, my inflo feels like a minor miracle. I wonder if anyone else out there has ever gotten flowers from a pruned tip?

I'll be sure to post pics! I'm looking forward to those blooms!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 12:59AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Greg, regarding your lingering question...

I think it depends upon where you live, and how long your growing season is, and the health and size of the plant. In Florida, you're going to have a LONG growing season and time for the new branches to mature enough to bloom. I doubt that would ever happen up here, unfortunately.

It looks like that branch was at least a foot to 18" long before it bloomed, right? Now some varieties will bloom on shorter branches -- like Penang Peach.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 12:27PM
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Well...having just looked at Bill's gorgeous photos, I feel a bit silly posting mine. But, I've only been at this a year, and so having even one plant in bloom is a huge deal to me. And I must say, these flowers are amazing--look, scent, texture...I'm thrilled!
And so, here's my Nebel's Rainbow (aka Ugly Duckling aka Frankenplume):

And for good measure, here's my Samantha Jade, which has been rooting since late July:

To me it is kind of underwhelming, but I don't think this represents what this flower will look like on a more mature plant.

As to be expected from a relative newbie, I just couldn't bring myself to snip off the inflo, even though I know it can hinder the rooting process. This cutting had begun to shrivel (despite regular misting) about a week before the flowers opened, and was showing no roots (I have it in clear plastic). Today I finally took the scissors and snipped that inflo away--and tonight I saw my first signs of roots poking out towards the plastic. That was fast! Lesson learned.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 3:27AM
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I recently purchased a Nebel's Rainbow 4-feet plumeria tree. There were many variety at the nursery but I chose NR and another rainbow variety with long thin petals. I couldn't resist the sweet scent and the gorgeous colors. I hauled them 300 miles to my house! Some of my NR flowers have 4 petals instead of 5...weird huh. Other than that the trees are strong and sturdy compare to other cuttings I bought from Home Depot.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:23AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Greg- I think that is a beautiful Nebel's and it is a good lei flower. When you snip off an inflo, put it in a vase in water and sometimes it will flower away for you. Bill

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:43AM
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Bill- your compliment means a lot to me. Many thanks! And I can see how sturdy a flower this is--what you say makes perfect sense.

Spring--earlier in this post I also talked about how seeing Dave in Virginia's Nebel's Rainbow reminded me of why this was one of my first purchases. Now that it's blooming, I REALLY remember. It fills me with good feelings every time I look at it or smell it. By the way, all these flowers have 5 petals, but some of them seem to get stuck in each other...but that gives it character:

LOL can you tell I'm a proud newbie? (Doesn't help that I just got a new camera.) OK, that's it with the Nebel's Rainbow pics...promise!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Greg, those are lovely--keep the photos coming! And I think you summed up perfectly how we all feel: "It fills me with good feelings every time I look at it or smell it." There's just something so special about them!

Some of my flowers do that petal thing, so I just gently pry them apart. They would probably separate on their own, but, hey, I'm a bit neurotic. :)


    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 2:46PM
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I'll give you an "amen, sis!" to that one! LOL plumerias are the bomb! So special indeed.

As for your neuroticism...hey, you're in good company :) (referring to yours truly of course) Also, nearly all of the best people I've known in my life have their share of neurotic quirks. Wear 'em with pride, I say.

Aaaaaand...since you asked...ONLY since you asked LOL--
I went outside tonight at 7pm. A t-storm had moved through (like every day lately) and the clouds had broken abruptly out to the west, where the sun was setting. Well, even though everything else was grey in the dim light, the Nebel's flowers seemed to be glowing, catching the rays of the setting was incredible.

OK, now that one is really, truly, the last one...I'm gonna get banned! Jen, hope things are cooling down for you in TX. Enjoy the weekend.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:28AM
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Greg, your twilight shot sure shows how they stand out. Good job, Very pretty. Peg

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


How beautiful, pics away!

We always love to see pics of our "babies" and we all understand the feeling that we get when we see and smell the "just rewards" our our tending to our "flock" LOL..its only people like us that truly understand where we are and what we love!!!

I especially love the pics of the palms in the background with the Plumies in the foreground, how lovely!!!

Love the story of the Ugly duckling turning into the "Swan"
It is a good reason to look at others in this respect comes in all different ways!!! : )

Thanks for sharing your beauty!!


Take care everyone..

Flying today and again tomorrow....what a sad day....

Take care,

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 5:02PM
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Your plumeria looks beautiful and I also love that background! Definitely an amazing backdrop!
Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 2:04AM
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You all are most gracious. Thank you for the kind comments. It's so nice to be able to share my flowers with all of you, and to see everyone else's amazing blooms. As my collection went from 5 to 40+ (hmm, I guess I'm addicted) this year, I am hopeful that next year I will have more than one flower to share!

The palm trees off the patio are indeed beautiful--they were so devastated from our spiraling whitefly scourge that we are fortunate to still have them.

Anyway, glad y'all enjoyed my Ugly Duckling tale LOL. If any of you ever raise a Frankenplume, remember my story--don't give up on that plant! (But DO post pics, for fun.)


    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 7:54PM
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sunseeker53(10a CA USA)

Congrats! Beautiful pictures Greg! Aren't you glad you didn't give up on that poor plumie!
I love Nebel's Rainbow too. Beautiful colors and wonderful scent!
(And yes, with 40+ plants, you are definitely an addict LOL!!!)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 9:15PM
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