Plumeria Leaf Problems (What You Need To Know)

Plumeria is one of the most fragrant plants that can add a touch of elegance to your garden or home. Their range of colors is eye-catching and they will definitely be appreciated by anyone who visits your home.

This sweet-smelling plant can prove tricky to handle too. We know how frustrating it can get if unexplained nuisances appear on your beautiful plants. When it comes to Plumeria, there are a lot of factors that can affect its leaves.

From pests to nutrient deficiencies, even slight imbalances in the environment can pose a problem to its leaves and overall health. Here’s how you can identify all kinds of Plumeria leaf problems:

Types of Plumeria Leaf Problems

The most common problem with Plumeria leaves is that they can develop brown spots. It isn’t very easy to diagnose the exact problem, as the spots could be caused by a variety of factors.

Here are some of the possible causes of Plumeria leaf problems:

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases are very common among plants. Flowering plants like Plumeria are especially susceptible to fungal diseases.

In the winter months, Plumeria is dormant and does not need much water. It is very easy to overwater it during this period. With poor drainage, moisture builds up in the soil, creating a welcome environment for fungal diseases.

Plumeria plants are prone to these common fungal diseases:

Plumeria rust is a disease caused by a rust fungus. The fungus grows and creates spores to help it spread around the Plumeria and another nearby plants

Plumeria Rust

Rust fungus is one of the most common ailments for Plumeria plants. It is caused by Coleosporium plumeriae or Coleosporium dominguense, an airborne fungus. They are present as red or orange pustules on the underside of leaves.

Infected plants will also develop brown, orange or yellow powdery pustules on the surface of leaves, stems or buds. These pustules germinate spores which spread to other plants too.

If your Plumeria has been infected by Plumeria rust, do not panic. Isolate the Plumeria and slice off all the affected leaves. Do not shake the leaves in the process—you might end up releasing more spores.

Use a fungicide to get rid of any residual fungus. Dispose of the affected leaves safely and wash your hands with soap before touching healthy plants.

This may also cause leaves to fall of your Plumeria.

Black Tip Fungus

Black tip fungus can occur as a result of frost or morning dew in the winters. They usually disappear when temperatures rise in the spring.

If you see black tip fungus on the crown of your frangipani, cut it off swiftly with a clean blade. The key is to catch it in the early stages. If left unchecked, this fungus could spread rapidly and damage the stems and leaves of the plant.

If the infection is severe, the blackened tip dies and new shoots start emerging from the stem. Sometimes the infected tip develops stem rot. Black tip fungus usually does not kill the plant. It is fairly easy to get rid of with timely action.

Fortunately, using a fungicide usually takes care of the problem. People have also had success with spraying a liquid seaweed extract or using a piece of cotton soaked with hydrogen peroxide.


When mildew invades the plant, its spores burrow into the stomata of the leaves. They hijack the plant’s nutrients, causing the leaves to slowly curl up, wither and fall off.

They can be recognized by the purple or grey covering they form on the surface of the leaves. If your Plumeria leaves look like they have been dusted with flour, it is surely a mildew infestation. In rare cases, mildew appears on the underside of the leaves.

Before the felt-like covering appears on the leaves, you might notice blister-like patches on the leaves. These can be easy to miss, as they could even appear on the underside of the leaves.

Mildew is unique in the sense that rising temperatures do not discourage it. With enough moisture, they can survive even in hot summers.

Spray an effective fungicide and remove all the affected leaves. Mildew can be difficult to get rid of even with fungicide. With these stubborn fungi, prevention is always the easier option.

Avoid shady, humid areas. Prune back overcrowded areas and avoid overhead watering. If the infection is too severe, do not hesitate to get rid of the plant. You do not want to risk all your other plants.

A leaf with sooty mold. When a plant has sooty mold, you'll notice that the leaves have a black covering ont hem

Sooty Mold

Sooty mold is a fungal infection caused by insects. Insects like aphids or whiteflies feed on the Plumeria plant and secrete honeydew. Sooty mold grows in the honey secreted by the insects.

The leaves and stem of the Plumeria will be covered by a black powdery coating. Clusters of these insects might be found on the underside of leaves.

Sooty mold does not directly affect your Plumeria. However, it blocks sunlight as it covers the surface of the leaves.

To deal with sooty mold, first, get rid of the insects secreting honeydew. Apply a broad-spectrum fungicide to get rid of the mold. Place the Plumeria in sunny, well-ventilated areas to avoid mold in the future.

Other Problems

Fungi are the usual suspects for Plumeria leaf problems. However, there can be other problems that affect the health of your Plumeria plant. Let’s look at a few other problems that could potentially affect your Plumeria:

Frangipani Mosaic Virus

Frangipani mosaic virus (FMV) is a disease that affects Plumeria plants. It gives the leaves a mottled appearance and is transmissible through the Plumeria sap. It causes discoloration in the leaves and color breaks in the flowers too.

There is currently no cure for the frangipani mosaic virus. However, it is extremely rare. So far, cases have only been found in Florida, Australia and India.

If your Plumeria has been infected by FMV, the best thing to do is to isolate the plant and destroy it. The symptoms and changes in leaf color only appear in the later stages. Thus, you should always isolate new Plumeria plants as they may carry the disease.

Gardening tools are the most common cause of transmission for FMV. Since the virus travels through the sap, make sure to always sterilize all cutting and pruning tools.

A stressed leaf on my homegrown Plumeria tree.

Leaf Stress Disorder

Sometimes your Plumeria plant may grow ill-formed or warped leaves. This can be due to a variety of reasons. However, there is no need to worry. This problem usually clears up with a little extra care.

If you have recently transplanted or repotted your Plumeria, or it has faced root damage or loss, the results may show on the leaves. Insects or chemical products can also cause stress to the Plumeria, causing stunted leaf growth.

Leaf stress disorder can be dealt with very easily. Take extra care to create a nurturing environment for the Plumeria—pay attention to temperature, sunlight exposure and fertilizer use. With proper watering, the leaves will go back to normal in a few weeks.

Excess Sunlight

Plumeria indeed loves the sun. However, too much of a good thing can prove harmful. If you leave your Plumeria in the scorching sun all day, you might end up with burned leaves.

Especially with newly sprouted or propagated Plumeria, too much exposure to the sun can scorch the leaves.

Relocate your Plumeria as soon as possible to reduce sun exposure. South-facing windows are great spots for Plumeria plants. If relocation is not possible, add a roof to provide shade to your Plumeria.

Your Plumeria will lose water in extremely hot conditions. Water the plant adequately to make up for the water loss.


Overwatering can cause a host of problems like root or stem rot or fungal infections. Water retention makes the roots squishy and unviable. They are unable to transport water to nourish the Plumeria.

This causes a chlorophyll shortage. The Plumeria is now unable to photosynthesize sunlight. The lack of chlorophyll causes discoloration in the Plumeria leaves. Chlorophyll is the component that gives the leaves their green color.

In its absence, they develop yellow spots which turn brown over time. To combat this Plumeria leaf problem, closely monitor the watering of your Plumeria.

For a newly planted Plumeria, water only once in 14 days. As it is in the process of taking root, it does not need much water. It will take about 5 weeks before the Plumeria is ready to receive more water.

If you see any signs of yellowing of leaves, immediately adjust your watering routine to suit your Plumeria. If the Plumeria experiences high sun exposure, it will need more water.

In the dormant season, it requires very less water. Unless you face very dry winters, avoid watering the Plumeria.

Most importantly, make sure that the drainage in your Plumeria pot is efficient and effective.

Fertilizer Issues

Overusing or underusing fertilizer can also damage your Plumeria plant. The discoloration or disfiguration of leaves can be an indicator of the nutrient levels in the soil of the Plumeria.

A deficiency of phosphorus can cause reddish spots to appear on the leaves. Scorched or wilted leaves can be an indicator of insufficient potassium. Nitrogen deficiency causes discoloration and dark spots.

Plumeria prefers slightly acidic soil. Check the pH level of the soil to make sure it is favorable and facilitates the absorption of nutrients.

Check the fertilizer label and adjust accordingly to make up for deficient or overabundant nutrients.


Ants do not cause any direct damage to your Plumeria. They are attracted to the sweet-smelling Plumeria and collect the honeydew left behind by insects like aphids and mealybugs.

They protect these insects as they like having access to honeydew. Ants collect the honeydew and store it in the Plumeria tips. This creates a welcome environment for fungi like mildew or black tip fungus to grow.

If you see ants crawling about your Plumeria plant, do not attempt to eliminate them. Get rid of the honeydew-producing insects with an insecticide and the ants will leave on their own.

Pro tip—sprinkle some cinnamon around your plants to discourage ants.

A plumeria leaf with a lot of mealybugs. Ants will protect these mealybugs as they are a source of honeydew for the ants.

Final Thoughts

It can be very frustrating to deal with problems in your Plumeria plant and not knowing what is causing them. Fortunately, most common Plumeria leaf problems can be solved easily—a little TLC is all it takes to restore a Plumeria to its former glory.

With this handy guide, we are sure you will be able to diagnose your Plumeria’s ailment effectively.

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