Also known as frangipani, Melia or temple tree, Plumeria is native to Central America and the Caribbean and is characterized by its fragrant flowers in a variety of colors such as yellow, white, orange, pink, red and lilac and large-size leathery leaves. Plumeria grows very well all year round in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11.
When thriving and in full bloom, Plumeria looks stunning, but there may be times when your Plumeria plants begin to lose leaves. So, why are Plumeria leaves falling off? Well, there are several reasons as to why your Plumeria plants may be losing leaves and, in this article, we’ll discuss the reasons as to why your Plumeria is losing its leaves.
Reasons for the Plumeria Leaves Falling Off
There may be several reasons that may be causing the Plumeria leaves to fall. The cause for this may be normal or it may mean that there is a problem that must be addressed immediately.
Native to the Caribbean and Central America, Plumeria is well adapted to hot, tropical climates. Typically, the Plumeria plant has its growing season in the spring and the plant grows actively until fall, when the temperatures begin to cool.
When the temperatures fall to less than 50°F (10°C), the leaves of the plant slowly turn yellow and begin to drop, signifying that the plant is entering a dormant state for the winter.
While the plant may retain its smooth, thick branches during the winter months, it may become completely leafless. This process of shedding its leaves enables the Plumeria plant to conserve energy and adapt and survive during the colder months without water, until spring, when the plant grows and blooming again.
During the growing season, the Plumeria plant requires lots of water for good growth, to bloom and produce flowers. During the summer, when the weather is very hot, the Plumeria plant requires plenty of water and if the water is insufficient, then this may cause the leaves of the plant to develop a yellowish tinge and start falling.
And, the plant may go into dormancy in summer, which is the wrong time of the year for the Plumeria to become dormant. So, if you notice your Plumeria plant is losing its leaves and if its buds are not growing larger during the growing season, then the problem could be that you are underwatering your Plumeria plant. The Plumeria plant requires regular watering to remain hydrated and keep its leaves vibrant.
While it is a good idea to allow a few inches of the soil to dry at the top slightly in between the waterings, you must ensure that the plant is completely soaked every time you water it.
A good way to conserve water during the warmer months is to add a layer of organic mulch under the Plumeria plant. The mulch layer will help to reduce the growth of weeds, which use up the precious water meant for your Plumeria plant.
If you have been watering your Plumeria very well during the summer months, but you notice that the leaves are still turning yellow and falling off, then there could be some other issue.
The Plumeria plant may be suffering from an insect or microscopic parasite infestation, especially if your plant is indoors. The most common pest infestation affecting the Plumeria plant are mealybugs and spider mites.
These tiny pests usually produce fine webs on the plant, which can cause the leaves of the Plumeria to turn brown or yellow, become deformed, and fall off.
You can control the spider mites by mixing 6 tablespoons of insecticidal soap with 1 gallon of water and spraying this soap solution on the Plumeria plant. Or, you can also control the pest infestation by spraying the plant with neem oil.
Another common problem that occurs in Plumeria leaves that causes the leaves to fall off is Plumeria rust. Plumeria rust is essentially a fungal disease that is characterized by the appearance of yellowish-orange spots appearing on the leaves.
These spots correspond to the abrasions, which hold the fungus spores on the bottom of the leaf.
The spots then merge into a larger dark brown-colored necrotic area, causing the leaves to gradually start dropping. The best way to prevent Plumeria rust is by clearing all debris under the plant regularly. Also, you should ensure that only the root area of the plant is watered and the foliage and leaves of the plant are kept dry.
Also, remove the leaves that have been affected by rust and put them in a bag and bin them. Make sure that these leaves don’t fall on the soil. Also, avoid composting the leaves affected by rust because this can cause the fungus spores to spread, causing further rust infestation.
The leaves of your Plumeria plant may be falling off because of other problems such as mold, scale or mildew. If you notice that the underside of the leaves has black spots, this indicates a mold or scale infestation or if the undersides have white spots, then it could be powdery mildew.
If your Plumeria plant is suffering from a mold infestation, then you spray the plant with white oil. Also, feeding the plant with fertilizer that has high potash or potassium content can help to improve the plant’s resistance to various diseases including mold.
In case your Plumeria plant has been affected by scale and if there is not a lot, then scrape the scales with your fingernail. Dip a cotton bud in rubbing alcohol and dab the spot with it. However, if there are a lot of scales, then you can use insecticide specially meant for scale or white oil and spray it on the leaves affected by scale.
A long-term solution for the prevention of scales is the presence of ladybugs, which can help to prevent scale infestation. You can attract ladybugs into your garden by planting zinnias, daisies and zucchinis.
If you notice white spots on the Plumeria leaves, as mentioned earlier, this could mean that your plant has been affected by powdery mildew. Generally, powdery mildew is caused because of poor air circulation or if the humidity is very high.
The problem can be treated by using a fungicide or white oil. If you are looking for a more organic way to treat the problem by making a solution by mixing milk powder and detergent in some water and spraying the solution on the Plumeria leaves.
However, you must always ensure that whatever you’re spraying on the Plumeria plant, you should do it in the late afternoon when there is no sun falling on the leaves to prevent them from being scorched by the sun’s rays.
Why are Plumeria leaves falling off? Well, as we have discussed in our article, there may be several reasons for this. This could be because of seasonal changes when the changing weather can cause the plant to go into dormancy during winter, underwatering or overwatering the plant, pest infestation or plant diseases.
By taking various steps discussed in the article, you should be able to combat any problems that are causing the leaves of your Plumeria to fall off and ensure that it is healthy, thriving and blooming.