Plumeria: a sad tale not without hope

I've been growing plumeria for a few years now. Maybe I should amend that to I've been trying to grow plumeria for a few years now. I started with some cuttings which rooted and did pretty well, but then did not overwinter well for me.

I replaced those with new cuttings, but only some of those rooted. Two of the plants only started growing late in the year (2011) so I kept them alive under lights that winter. They put on quite a bit of growth in 2012 and I thought I was in good shape last autumn as I had two decent plants to overwinter. Let's find out how they did in the garage this past winter...


Here's the smaller of the two:

Completely rotted from tip to "trunk" -- every inch of it is dead.

The second plant looked much better, as one of the two branches was healthy:

The main stem of this plant turned out to be rotten though:

So both plants are dead. The interesting thing is that they looked to be in good shape until early spring, when they started showing signs of rot. Or perhaps I just brought them out too early and our long, cool spring is what did them in?

There's enough of the one branch left to salvage a cutting though:

It's green and healthy, and about 14"(35cm) long.

I've got it resting, letting the cut end heal for a couple of weeks. Then I'll dip it in rooting hormone and plant it again for another try.

I'm thinking that my main problem when overwintering these is bringing the pots into the garage in the fall while the soil is moist. This year I'll pay closer attention and bring these inside when drier. Or maybe I just need to bring it deeper into the garage, or even indoors and see what happens? Definitely don't put them outside too early. (I've made so many mistakes now that I think about it!)

I'm not one to give up too easily on plants, and I'm quite eager to get at least one of these to overwinter successfully but I'm not sure that I'm willing to purchase more cuttings. Maybe a pre-rooted one? Is it worth the effort and cost?

If you live in a cold climate and successfully overwinter plumeria, please let me know your methods!


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Teri  – (July 3, 2013 at 10:13 AM)  

I had to Google this to see what you are so determined to grow.

Now I understand! I saw some of this at the Butterfly House over in Faust Park this weekend. Lovely and an incredible scent too. Good luck!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 3, 2013 at 10:46 AM)  

Plumerias are so beautiful, I totally understand why you're going to such lengths to grow them, in spite of all the frustrations.

I'll wait until you have it all figured out, then I'll buy some and follow your procedure for overwintering them :-).

Melissa  – (July 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM)  

I have 2 Plumerias that we have overwintered in the garage for about 4 years now and they are HUGE and very healthy, we are starting to see small buds on one and sure that they will both bloom in a few weeks. We NEVER water our Plumerias while they are overwintered, you did not mention in your post if you water in the winter. Perhaps not watering in the winter prevents rot and that's why we have never had a problem.
We don't bring them outside until all danger of frost is over for our area, which is usually around Easter.
I hope this helps, and don't give up, once you master it, the plants will grow for years.

Alan  – (July 3, 2013 at 3:47 PM)  

Nope, never water them during the winter. They just rot. What temperature do you keep them at during the winter? Also, waiting until last frost date has passed is what I did -- but even that isn't warm enough for them especially if there's lots of rain.

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