Growing Plumeria – How To Care For Plumeria:
Plumeria is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). It belongs to the same genus as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. It was first described from Mexico in 1789 by the botanist Joseph Banks. Today it grows wild throughout much of tropical America including Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
There are several cultivars grown commercially for food or ornamental purposes. Most varieties have been bred to produce larger fruit with higher sugar content than their ancestors. Some cultivars are also resistant to some diseases and pests.
The most common types of Plumeria used in cultivation include ‘Lilac’, ‘Papaya’ and ‘Sweetheart’. These are all members of the species Plumbago L., which is native to South America. Other popular types include ‘Cherry Blossom’, ‘Red Devil’, and ‘Honeydew’.
Plumeria is one of the few plants that can be propagated vegetatively. It takes two years for a plant to reach maturity after being planted in fertile soil. Once established, it produces fruit year round. The fruits are small, yellowish berries with a sweet flavor and distinctive smell when ripe.
They are eaten fresh or dried and they make excellent jams, jellies and pickles.
How To Grow Plumeria?
Plumeria requires full sun and fertile, well drained soil for best growth. The soil should be rich in humus, and annual applications of a complete fertilizer will help to increase the yield. They are not particular about soil pH, but they do not grow well in acidic soil with a pH below 5.8. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and don’t allow the soil to dry out completely, but avoid water-logging as this can cause root rot problems.
Plumeria plants can be grown from seed, but the seeds lose their viability quickly. They can be propagated more easily from cuttings, which should be taken from young growing tips between March and August. Cuttings should be between 6 and 12 inches in length and they normally take root easily provided they are planted in well drained soil. Cuttings are prone to fungal infections, particularly if the soil is water-logged or there is no airflow around the roots.
Protect the cuttings from pests such as mealybugs and scale by dipping the lower half of the cutting in a solution of 1 part milk to 9 parts water.
Plumeria can be grafted onto rootstock from the hardier species P. alba. This increases the tolerance of the grafted plant to drought and heavy rain, and makes it less susceptible to soil born diseases such as Phytophthora. Grafted Plumeria can be identified by the presence of a graft union, which appears as a swollen node at the base of the trunk.
Grafted plants should be planted into individual pots and not pruned until they are well established.
The flowers are the most recognizable part of the plant and come in a range of colors including white, red, yellow, orange and pink. Each flower has a different scent associated with it.
“Plumeria” comes from the Latin meaning “of the palace,” however it is not known which palace the name refers to. It may have referred to an ancient Egyptian palace, or perhaps the palace of the King of France. The link between “Plumeria” and “pyramids” is more widely known. After Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage around the world, one of his ships called the San Vittoria was shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean.
Survivors made their way back to Europe with news of a beautiful island that was covered with plumeria. This story encouraged others to try to find the mythical island and the legend of the “Flower of the Pharaohs” was born.
In Hawaii, these flowers are not just beautiful, they have also become an integral part of the culture. The plumeria flower is considered a symbol of friendship and good luck. In fact, it is not an uncommon sight to see someone wearing or driving around with a Plumeria in the car. A white flower also represents purity while a yellow flower stands for humility.
However, these flowers are not limited to the meanings above – people have used them to represent all kinds of different feelings and ideas.
Many people are introduced to the world of Plumeria through plumeria scented products. These include lotions, oils, soaps, sprays and candles among others.
Many people enjoy having these products around as the scent of Plumeria can help in uplifting one’s mood. It has a sweet and pleasant smell, similar to that of other flowers such as the rose or jasmine.
Some people enjoy just having the flowers around them as they find their smell to be intoxicating. It is not uncommon for people to have flower arrangements with several plumeria flowers around.
Some people also use the oil obtained from the flowers in their cooking.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growing plumeria in Hawaiʻi and around the world by J Little – 2006 – agris.fao.org
Isolation and characterization of secondary metabolites from Plumeria obtusa by M Saleem, N Akhtar, N Riaz, MS Ali… – Journal of Asian natural …, 2011 – Taylor & Francis
Anxiolytic effects of Plumeria rubra var. acutifolia (Poiret) L. flower extracts in the elevated plus-maze model of anxiety in mice by M Chatterjee, R Verma, V Lakshmi, S Sengupta… – Asian journal of …, 2013 – Elsevier
Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oils Extracted by Microwave-Assisted Hydrodistillation from the Flowers of Two Plumeria Species by Y Liu, H Wang, S Wei, Z Yan – Analytical letters, 2012 – Taylor & Francis