How to Grow Fragrant, Tropical Plumeria Flowers

This tropical plant is drought tolerant, and can also be planted in pots. Get tips for growing plumeria, and see pictures of the blooms.

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If you’ve ever visited Hawaii, you’ve no doubt seen and fallen in love with plumeria. The waxy blooms of this plant are the quintessential flower for making traditional Hawaiian leis, and the sweet scent is synonymous with the tropics. But plumeria (also called frangipani) is actually fairly easy to grow just about anywhere, as long you follow a few guidelines.

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How to Grow Plumeria From Cuttings

PlumeriaJill Staake

Plumeria (Plumeria rubra) is best grown from cuttings from a healthy plant. You can find many places to buy them online. When you order them, you will usually just receive what looks like a thick stick, without much to show for itself. They are extremely easy to root, though. Just stick them in the soil and give them water and sun. New leaves will begin to grow within a few weeks. Plumeria produces clusters of long-lasting, sweet-smelling flowers from spring through fall, going dormant in the winter.

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How to Overwinter Plumeria

PlumeriaJill Staake

As with most tropical plants, plumeria is not cold-tolerant. In fact, it can be damaged when the temperatures fall into the 40s. (Here’s how to find the first and last frost dates). So if you grow plumeria in any area below zone 10, you will have to take precautions in the winter. The easiest way to do this is to grow it in a pot, and bring it inside when cool weather arrives. If you’d like to plant it outdoors, you can dig it up in the fall and keep it indoors over the winter. This is when the plant is generally dormant anyway. The Plumeria Society of America has good tips for dealing with the winter in colder climates.

PlumeriaJill Staake

In warmer climates, you can grow plumeria outdoors year-round if protected from frost. In the right conditions, it will become a shrub or even a small tree (as shown above in Tampa, Florida).

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Watering Plumeria

The wonderful thing about this gorgeous flowering plant is that it requires very little water, making it perfect for drought tolerant gardening. Plant it in well-draining soil (sand or sandy soil is ideal). Plumeria likes its soil to dry out between waterings, so expect to give it water once a week or so unless it receives rain.

Pictures of Plumeria

253903743 1 Kay Smith Bnb Bypc2020 PreviewCourtesy Kay Smith

I was in my backyard watering the plants. The bloom was beautiful, so I took a photo. I forgot about it by the time I went back in the house. It wasn’t until a week or so later that I actually looked at the photo and was shocked to see the visitor I had missed,” says Kay Smith.

Bnbbyc17 Paul Vigiletti 1 PreviewCourtesy Paul Vigiletti

“This a close up of the beautiful blooms of my white plumeria, which I have in a pot in the backyard. They are extremely difficult to get to bloom in Texas,” says Paul Vigiletti.

Bnbbyc16 Antoinette Beckman 001 PreviewCourtesy Antoinette Beckman

“On a trip to Hawaii 10 years ago, I purchased a very small plumeria plant to grow back home in Illinois. It grew 8 feet high in its potted container. I was overjoyed to finally see it blooming and be able to enjoy the wonderful aroma after 10 long years!” says Antoinette Beckman.

Bnbbyc16 Cathy Mcelwee 002 PreviewCourtesy Cathy Mcelwee

“My mother purchased this Hawaiian plumeria from a shopping network several years ago. We have affectionately referred to it as the ‘stick’ since there were no blooms for the first two years. Since neither of our thumbs are particularly green, we were thrilled and a bit surprised when these beautiful little flowers finally appeared one summer,” says Cathy Mcelwee.

plumeriaCourtesy Brittany Bice

“I absolutely love plumeria flowers. They are beautiful, fragrant and butterflies enjoy them also!” says Brittany Bice.

plumeriaCourtesy Charlotte Arandus

“This is a plumeria plant. They are native to Hawaii and used for making leis. A friend of mine gave me one that she brought back from the Hawaiian islands. They bloom all summer long and smell wonderful,” says Charlotte Arandus.

Jill Staake
Jill Staake's lifelong love of nature turned into a career during the years she spent working with native Florida butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. During this time, she helped to maintain 30+ acres of gardens and backwoods, all carefully cultivated to support the more than 20 species of butterflies displayed indoors and out. She now writes for a variety of publications and sites on topics like gardening and birding, among others.