The replacement sticks

Last year I tried growing plumeria (Frangipani) for the first time. I started them from cuttings, which look like bare sticks, and the two that I bought both rooted, leafed out and looked great by the end of the summer. Unfortunately, they did not survive the winter in my garage -- they both rotted. So a few weeks ago I ordered some more cuttings. I chose a different company this time because they were cheaper, and I figured if I was going to lose the plants over the winter again there was no need to grow expensive cultivars.

I bought from what was apparently a small company and they were out of town for a week or two and couldn't ship immediately, so I forgot about my order. Yesterday the mailman knocked on my door (instead of just leaving the package on the porch -- thank you!) and handed me a box.


Only after I saw the return address did I realize that it was my plumeria cuttings! Since this is a lot later in the season than it was last year when I got my initial cuttings, I wanted to get them planted right away.

Upon opening the box, I used all of my observational and counting skills and concluded that there were more cuttings in here than I expected.

I had purchased three cuttings -- one of each variety -- and they had sent me two of each! I assume this was because of the delay due to their vacation, and was a very nice surprise. Not only does it mean that I get a few free plants, but it means I can experiment a little with overwintering in the hopes of getting at least one of each variety through to next year.

The cuttings were unlabeled, but were marked with paint:

From their website I was able to determine that the red/white marked cuttings were 'Lani's Beauty', the yellow marked were 'Celadine', and those orange-dotted were 'Apricot'.

These cuttings all look like they're ready to awaken, root, and start growing, and many of the cuttings have two branches already:

More growing tips mean more branches, which means more flowers (someday). Exciting!

I decided to reuse the two pots from the failed plumeria:

I removed the pebble mulch, pulled out the rotted stems, then dumped out the soil and refreshed it a bit. It already had a lot of perlite in it (for drainage, which is important when rooting these -- they'll rot if they stay too wet), but I added some sand to it as well as a little bit of coir.

The pebble mulch helps keep the stems in place while they're rooting so I added it back in later.

Since I had four additional cuttings this year I had to find some more pots. I wanted to use clay pots because they're heavy -- small plastic pots would surely tip right over with the heavy cuttings in them.

I needed to cut a few more screen squares to cover the drainage holes:

But then I was ready to plant.

The final step is the pebble mulch, and although I'm pretty sure I have a bag of river pebbles somewhere in the garage, I could not find it. (That's the problem with cleaning and reorganizing the garage.) So I was forced to use larger rocks instead:

This makes me nervous because raccoons love these smooth, round rocks. They must think they're eggs, or just like the way they feel, but they always pull these out of the pots on the deck. There have been many nights when we've been watching television and heard the unmistakable sound of a stone bouncing down the deck stairs. I hope they don't disturb the cuttings.

You're supposed to keep the cuttings somewhere hot that gets some sun, but to keep them dry -- no water until they have leaves that are 5" long as a rule of thumb (or something close to that). Under the eaves on my deck is the only place I have with these conditions, although if we get a weird storm they could get rained on. I may look for a way to cover a couple of the plants to prevent this.

Now I just wait. It could be a couple of weeks or a couple of months before these root. I'm hoping it's a couple of weeks since the website lists them as all "very fast rooters". Fortunately at this time of year I'm good at waiting since there are so many other things to do in the garden.

Even though I did this last year, I'm really excited again!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 6, 2011 at 10:22 AM)  

Alan, great post. I love plumerias but have never tried to grow them. Which company did you order your cuttings from (if you feel comfortable disclosing their name publicly)?

Sylvanna  – (July 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM)  

Thank you. That was very interesting.

Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (July 6, 2011 at 1:03 PM)  

Hi Alan - very interesting - please will you post a photo when they get leaves? I'd like to see how these develop.

Alan  – (July 6, 2011 at 1:05 PM)  

Gerhard: their website link is highlighted in a couple of places in the post.

Kathy G  – (July 6, 2011 at 4:11 PM)  

Very interesting. I've never seen plumeria before. It seems a bit late in the growing season-do you think you'll get blooms?

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (July 6, 2011 at 4:36 PM)  

I love plumerias, but found in Hawaii, while attending a Luau, that I'm allergic to them! They are gorgeous though. It was nice of the company to send some extra cuttings. I hope they take, and that rascally raccoons leave your pebble mulch alone!

Janet  – (July 6, 2011 at 4:59 PM)  

I've just looked at the link for plumerias. Very beautiful and sound quite specialist. Amazing what is going to grow from that unpromising looking stick!

Just Plumerias  – (June 29, 2013 at 5:49 AM)  

How are your cuttings doing? we are the ones that mailed them to you?


Alan  – (June 29, 2013 at 7:04 AM)  

Unfortunately, not too well. Only two plants made it through last fall, and they did not overwinter well in the garage. Both looked fine until late winter, when they started showing signs of rot. I never watered them. Now one is completely dead and rotted, while the other has one dead branch but the other is still green -- although no signs of waking up yet. I should post an update. A sad update.

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