Have you ever looked at the flowers in lei garlands and wondered where they came from? Well, those are frangipani flowers, officially known as Plumeria. Plumeria is a genus of tropical plants that produce beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Plumeria can be grown in pots in the US. The US Department of Agriculture says that if you live in plant hardiness zones 10, 11 or 12, you can plant Plumeria in the ground outdoors.
No matter where you live or whether you plant Plumeria indoors or outdoors, you need a good fertilizer to ensure good growth and blooming. Here’s how you can select the best Plumeria fertilizer:
Choosing a Fertilizer for Your Plumeria
By far, the best fertilizer for Plumeria is one with high levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus is an extremely important factor in the plant’s blooming. Since Plumeria only grows new branches when it is about to bloom, it needs an abundance of phosphorus.
If you look at the label of an NPK fertilizer, there are usually three numbers on it. These indicate the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in them. The one in the middle denotes phosphorus.
Fertilizers with a high middle number like 10-50-10 or 10-30-10 will be ideal for Plumeria. Nitrogen, potassium and other micronutrients are just as important for Plumeria.
Some people also prefer to use bone meal. It is organically high in phosphorus and has sufficient nitrogen too. You can use potash to increase potassium levels.
Normal garden soil does not have all the nutrients required for growing Plumeria. Even if the soil is nutrient rich, plants absorb these nutrients as they grow. This leaves the soil infertile over time.
Fertilizing replenishes these nutrients and makes sure you get a thriving, abundant blooming season every year.
All plants require 6 essential nutrients—carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Out of these 6, the first 3 are provided by air and water. Fertilizers make up for the remaining 3.
Nitrogen helps plants create new tissue. If you want thick foliage on your Plumeria plant, choose a fertilizer with a good amount of nitrogen. Although nitrogen is one of the most essential nutrients, it does not help the plant flower.
Phosphorus, on the other hand, enhances root growth, helps the plants to bloom and increases vitality. Phosphorus is the nutrient that helps transfer energy from one part of the plant to another.
Potassium increases the plant’s resistance to diseases and helps it maintain good metabolism. Plumeria plants need two more nutrients in smaller quantities—calcium and magnesium.
Calcium is needed for cell membranes in Plumeria and helps with growth too. It also enhances the health of the soil by binding organic and inorganic matter together. Magnesium is required for chlorophyll, which helps the plant process sunlight.
Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizer
It might seem like a trivial detail, but organic and synthetic fertilizers work in vastly different ways.
Organic fertilizers are made from organic material occurring in nature. Plant or bone meal and compost are examples of organic fertilizers. Raw materials are chemically processed for obtaining chemical fertilizers with the desired nutrient ratio.
Organic fertilizers do not dissolve in water. They release nutrients slowly over months. This is why people use organic fertilizers in the fall. The nutrients are ready for absorption by the growing season in spring.
Synthetic fertilizers dissolve in water. They can be absorbed by the plant immediately. Synthetic fertilizer needs to be used with care, as adding too much of it can damage the plants.
Synthetic fertilizers are great for a quick growth spurt. However, they don’t contribute to soil health or fertility.
For long-term fertility and the overall health of the soil, organic fertilizers are recommended for your Plumeria plant.
Plumeria might benefit more from foliar feeding, as they can absorb more nutrients via leaf surfaces. Spraying liquid nutrients, especially in the growing season and during transplanting, will ensure abundant yields.
The pH of the Soil
You can do a soil test to check the pH level of the soil. Ideally, the soil’s pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
If the pH is too low, use lime or wood ash to raise it. Sulfur or aluminum sulfate can help lower pH levels.
Do not be overenthusiastic—pH levels don’t stabilize overnight. Raise or lower the pH over months. Going to the extremes either way might make you end up with the opposite problem.
Compost is a great solution for managing the pH of the soil. It helps keep the pH level at a stable 6.5, which is ideal for growing Plumeria.
When to Fertilize Plumeria
Phosphorus-rich fertilizers will help Plumeria grow flowers rather than focussing on growing more leaves or branches. How often you fertilize your Plumeria plant depends on the weather in your region and the fertilizer you choose.
In any case, always fertilize when the growing season starts. This is when the Plumeria is actively growing buds and needs the most nutrients.
Stop fertilizing 30 to 45 days before the start of winter. This is to encourage the dormancy period. If the area you live in does not have very cold winters, you could even fertilize your Plumeria throughout the year.
Tips for Growing Plumeria
If you are growing Plumeria in your garden or in your house, these tips might come in handy:
⦁ If you prune or cut your Plumeria plant, you will notice a milky sap oozing from the wound. It irritates the skin and eyes. It can be poisonous too.
Always wear gardening gloves while working on your Plumeria. In case of any contact with the sap, wash your hands with soap immediately.
⦁ Plumeria plants can attract insects and slugs. Insecticidal soap helps drive away harmful insects. Diatomite can help you get rid of slugs or snails.
⦁ If the temperature drops to 10 degrees Celsius, move the Plumeria indoors.
With a little care, Plumeria plants can grow to great heights and bear an abundance of gorgeous, sweet-smelling flowers. They can greatly enhance the beauty of your garden or home.
Choosing the best Plumeria fertilizer can be tricky, but trust us, once you find the perfect mix of nutrients, your Plumeria plants are going to be growing like weeds!