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Over wintering Plumerias

Posted by gardenbear1 5a (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 31, 12 at 21:48

I know its early to think about winter. I have started working on my plans to bring in my plants for the winter over the next 3 week, how low of a temp can plumerias take ? I have a cold room in my basement that I store lots of plants and bulbs for the winter it gets down to around 65f, would it be ok to keep my plumerias there? should I strip off the leaves before I store them or let them drop off,I have a area that I keep other plants in that stays about 70/75 and there under light.I have one that I know will stay green all year so that will go in a south window but the rest I'm not sure what to do? last year the ones I did keep under lights didn't drop there leaves until late Feb.
Thanks for any help you can give me
Bear


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Hi Bear,

I don't think it's too early to start making your winter 'storage' plans. Sometimes an early cold snap catches us by surprise and then we scramble and run out of time.

Before i bring them in I try to spray them (Outdoors) with Ortho Home Defense. I spray the tips, trunks and the few exposed leaves. Not sure if this helps much, but likely kills some pests. Let the spray dry before you bring them in. You might also try using ant killer granules on the soil surface about a month before bringing in. You can easily bring an entire ant colony indoors with you! A good water spray on leaves helps remove some pests as well.

I keep most of my larger plants semi-dormant in a garage heated to just above 55 degrees. They get a small amount of light from fluorescents on timers (< 8 hours) and from a window. I try to remove most of the leaves - maybe 2/3 to 3/4 because they bring in or encourage pests and are messy when they drop all winter long. I also reduce watering drastically. In the garage on warm days, it heats up nicely too, especially in April/May when it can get 85 degrees in there. The plants begin to come out of dormancy around April/May. I do leave a few leaves on the tips in the Fall because I believe as they transpire, they keep the sap moving to the tips and keeps them healthier longer, preventing black tip, but that's just a theory. We have a long dormancy period up here so black tip can be a problem. These plants, while tolerant of a dormancy, really do not like a dormancy period of more than a 2 to 3 months. More and it stresses them. I have to put my plants thru a dormancy of about nearly 5.5 months.

I keep some plants up in my upstairs office near a window. -- they do eventually go dormant -- and some in the basement under fluorescents. Really, they're tucked here and there all over the house. It doesn't really matter too much where, as long as they're kept above 55 degrees and watered appropriately.

When they keep their leaves, they are much more vulnerable to mites and whiteflies so by December, if they still have leaves, I remove them. Plus you can get more plants in a small area if you mostly defoliate them.


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

never too early!
Here, the local society has a meeting every November about putting your plumeria to sleep, I`m pretty sure you can get the article from PSA website. Of course, for ya`ll it`s a bit earlier in the year, sometimes for us too.

Tally HO!


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Hi Bear,
I would not leave leafs on the plants because most likely they will get rust and in the spring all your plants will get rust.
Here is what I do. I cut off all the leafs, leaving about 1" stem, two days before I move the plants. Do not reap the leafs off befcause that damages the stems. Cut the leafs off with a pruner. The nex day I spray all the trees (to cover everything on the tree, with a mixture of sytemic fungicide, insecticide, and dormant oil. This way I kill all the pathogens, bugs, and their eggs. The next day I move the plants, which have been pretty well sanitized. Never ever water plumerias in storage, no matter how dry they get. They will rot most of the time. As a matter of fact, I try to move my plants to storage when they are dry, to avoid the soil being too wet in storage. I have never lost a plant in storage and in the spring the leafs come out very healthy.
With rspect to temperature plumerias can take low temperatures close to freezing with no problem. Just keep them above freezing and they will be OK.
tc,
George


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Thanks for all the help, I feel better about moving my plants inside for the winter now.
Bear


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Having 4 different color flower plumarias, and they are getting to bring inside, can I cut them back and start new plumarias ?

Here is a link that might be useful: GardenWeb


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George have you ever stored them bare root? Seems like alot of the Texas growers, pull them up and store them in the garage, greenhouse or shed thru the winter months. They remove the leaves around Thanksgiving, they call it putting the plants to sleep. I wish I knew how to do this, it would make my life so much easier. Barbra


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Barb, look at the psa website, there should be a link to their article on putting plumeria to sleep for winter.

Quit watering, cut off leaves. If storing bare root, dig them up, shake off or wash off as much soil as possible. Stack up off the floor, on crates or a shelf and ignore till spring. Good air circulation will help, you can just put a fan on them. Keep above freezing.
Tally HO!


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Tally I am going to try it this winter. How tall or old do they have to be to be bare root stored? Barbra


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Barbra,
plumerias have two sets of roots: a) the primary achoring roots that come out of the cambium perimeter, and b) the feeder roots that come out from the sides of primary roots. When the plants go dormant in the winter most of the feeder roots die, independent if you store them in pots with soil or bare rooted. New feeder roots come out in the springtime. This is why plumeria roots rot when you water them when they are dormant; they cannot takeup the water (no feeder roots).

I have two sets of plants, a) display plants around the pool, and b) others (new plants, R&D plants, etc) in the back of my garden. The display plants are planted in nice plastic pots and I move them with the pots in the garage and a covered patio (run 4-mil plastic around in the winter). The other plants, I dig up all the 2-year old and older plants and remove all the soil. I let them dry for a few hours so the roots are not wet. I trim off any odd looking root or too far out root back, so that I have a nice round root ball. Then I wrap the roots with 4-mil plastic (taken down from the patio from the year before). A 4'x4' piece of plastic works well for most plants (they have a small rootball). Larger plants may need a larger piece of plastic. I tie the plastic around the trunk with twin. I put them in the garage on the floor on top of a 3/4" thick plywood. You can also hang them upside down from the rafters. I do not do that because I have all my pots in the garage (there is no room). The small 1-2 gallon pots I put in the big 25-gallon pots around my large plumerias.

It is really very easy to do. Plumerias are very resilient. Just make sure the roots are not wet, protect the roots from drying up by wrapping in plastic, keep them off the cocnrete floor because the roots might freeze, and trim off any long or damage roots. It is best to trim the roots in the fall because they get time to heal the cuts over the winter.
I hope this helps.
tc,
George


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Assuming you are using a 4ft x 4ft section of plastic the root balls are about basketball size. Could you perhaps reference a ball size per size of tree? i.e. basketball size for a 5ft tall tree, etc.

I didn't expect to read using plastic to wrap the ball. But all my experience in bare rooting is academic and not real world. thanks for the information.


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George, we can't bare root up here. Dormancy period too long. Usually it begins in November and ends sometime in April or May. The last frost date is usually late April, but temps are still to cold to set plants outdoors.

I'd be interested in knowing what the minimum and max temperature is in your garage, the average humidity level, and your dormancy durations.

I've noticed black tip if I keep the garage too cold (no warmups during the day) and if I let the root balls dry out too much. You may not have this problem because you have a shorter dormancy period. With a longer dormancy, plants go into stress more easily. To avoid, I water just a bit around the perimeter of the pot to keep root ball from shrinking way back. Perhaps this keeps the (dormant) roots from dessicating too much. I find this helps provided temps do not go below 50 degrees for long. My garage humidity can sink to 20 or 30%. Very dry.


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George thanks for the information. The 2 PSA members in Corpus, put their bare root plants on the back patio, in carboard boxes, they use thick plastic and cover all the sides of the patio, to protect them from the cold weather. I guess the plastic is the key here, it keeps the root ball from getting dry. Would it be a good idea to put spagnum moss between the root ball before I wrap them in plastic squares? I have some extra bags of it. Barbra


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Barbra,
I would not use the moss. It is not necessary. It might keep the roots wet.

Dave,
I keep a minimum and maximum thermometer in my patio, where I store half of my plumerias. If it will get much below 32 F at night I turn on a 1500W electric heater. It never gets below 32 F, it gets close though sometimes. The garage is a little warmer than that (not heated but well insulated). I have not had any plants die in winter storage.

Black tip is not a major problem. Only a few varieties occassionally suffer with some black tip (Nebels Rainbow and Singapore). Singapore, which is evergreen, is really bad. Just about every tip of the plant gets black tip. I tried spraying them; nothing seems to help. A more common problem is stem rotting on a few cultivars (Ted Chinn, Penang Peach) I catch it early be frequent inspections. I cut off the rotted part with a razor and dust it with sulfur. It stops spreading and I save the branch.

I would not water plumerias in storage no matter what. Once I water some seedlings that the soil was bone dry and they all rotted. I kept a large plumeria in the garage for two years and four months without a drop of water. Not only it survived, it bloomed in the garage! The trunk shrivelled but it recovered nicely after taking out and watering it.

tc,
George


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George, I do think winter humidity helps keep the dormant plants from getting too dessicated. Eventually, shriveled branches can approach mummification. LOL! As I said before, my garage is very dry in winter because I use a heater to keep it warmer.

You didn't mention what your average humidity is in your garage.


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One more question

George, I thought it was interesting that you wrote:
'protect the roots from drying up by wrapping in plastic'

I thought you said the plants should stay absolutely dry over winter. This is why I do water my plants, albeit ever so little, over winter. To keep the rootball from shrinking and roots healthy. These plants do absorb some water from the soil and from the air (humidity) -- even when defoliated, otherwise it would be silly to mist cuttings, which many people advocate (especially in dry regions).

What do you suppose causes the stem rot you mention? Don't you think if you can keep the sap running up from root to tips at least somewhat, that will eliminate the stem rot? For this reason, I leave at least a few leaves on the growing tips after I move the plants into my garage. I believe this keeps them in a less dormant state for as long as possible. They aren't usually completely defoliated until January. Shorter dormancy means more sap movement and less black tip and stem rot. That's my theory anyway!

Cheers! ~Dave


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Hi Dave,
humidity is relatively low in the winter here. However, being this far south and close to the Gulf, I am sure it is higher than your humidity.

The black tip and stem rot are associated with only a few specific caltivars. I have close to 80 varieties and only a few have problems. What I have observed, is that those that are growing (not fully dormant) are the ones that have problems. The ones that are growing and have green stems are due to caltivar and/or fertilizer late in the season. Once I fertilized young plumerias mid September and I lost a lot of them to stem rot. I kept on cutting them back to healthy wood and the stem rot kept on coming back till the plants were killed. Now, I never fertize past mid August. My plumerias are mostly dormant when I put them in storage at Thanksgiving and have not had any problems. Just a few cultivars that have long green branches, like Vera Cruz Rose, Ted Chinn, California Sally get occassionally stem rot. I got rid of three Singapores I had this year. Every single tip on them got black tip every year and never bloomed. Eulas Stanford has a Singapore planted in the ground inside his greenhouse (heated in the winter). It never gets black tip and blooms like crazy. I think the black tip is associated with very cool temperatures and plumerias that are not dormant. Some varieties like Lemon Drop, that goes dormant early, never ever has any problems.

With respect to water, I have never lost a plant by not water it. The temperatures stay pretty moderate so the plumerias in storage do not loose much water. They never shrivel in storage over the four months period. All the stems have sap in them but I do not think there is much water uptake the roots.
For cuttings i think people mist them because they are in full sun and loose moisture by evaporation (have no roots to replenish the moisture). I root my cuttings in semi shade all the way up the early October and I never mist them. I have never lost a cutting the last two years. I am developing a new method to root hard-to-root reds, which prevents any moisture loss from the cuttings during the callusing period. When the cuttings are planted, they look like they were just cut off the tree.
tc,
George


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George, thanks for responding and giving your observations about black tip and stem rot.

I believe black tip is a plant response to stress by various causes, and there does seem to be a cultivar vulnerability. Lei Rainbow is another one that seems more prone.


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Thanks George for the information.

I used to know a guy in far north Houston who dug his up and then hung them from the rafters in his garage every winter. He used to come to the Mercer swap years ago. It was really weird, all these dead looking trees hanging upside down in a garage. He parked the car outside in the winter.

Tally HO!


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

George, once again, lots of good info and much to think about.

Glad to know I'm not the only one with the Singapore White Blues. Er, Blacks? How does Eulas do it, get his to grow and bloom with no black tip? I desperately want the heady Singapore fragrance but after seven years of waiting I'm done. Good to know about watching out for the stem rot on PP and CS, too.

Humidity is still high in Houston over winter, nothing like Virginia.

I admit I'm with Dave on the watering over winter. I water them all in their pots, maybe once every six or eight weeks, depending on whether they still have foliage and where I've stored them--most are in the house and don't lose all leaves until January.

Granted I don't have as much experience as George, but I've only ever lost two and that was last winter. Both were new center cuts with out any good branches yet.

Still, I'm willing to try bare-rooting some bigger ones this winter. I thought the roots needed to stay open to air, or be put into paper rather than plastic?

Jen


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RE: Over wintering Plumerias

Hi Jen,
If I did not see it with my own eyes I would not have beleived it that Eulas's Singapore does not get black tip. He keeps his greenhouse heated in the winter and Singapore never looses its leafs. I think that is why he does not have a problem.

I grow my plumerias in the back of the garden in large 20-25 gallon black tabs. I use potting soil, paumice, and perlite for good drainage. When I dig them up in November the soil falls off. I have to store them with no soil. Covering the roots with plastic is a good idea. It keeps the roots from drying out too much.

I just looked at Emerson's website. He grows his plumerias in the ground (gumbo soil where he lives). When he digs them up the soil stays with the plants. He stores a lot of them like that (with soil and no plastic). He stores some with the rootball covered with plastic. Some of the ones hanging from the rafters are covered in plastic.

I think it is OK either way. I prefer to wrap the rootballs with plastic (have lots of it from my patio and the two greenhouses I have (I grow tomatoes and cucumbers all winter).

tc,
George


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