The plumeria is native to the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, South America and Mexico, where they can grow to a height of 30 to 40 feet. In slightly more temperate climes, they will grow to be large shrubs or small trees. However, our northern friends need not envy in vain; potted, they will provide fantastic color and aroma for decks, patios, or balconies.
However, It is important to provide proper care during the winter for your plumerias to survive and see another spring. They go dormant during the winter months in Southern California.
To prepare your plumerias for cooler weather and continue to care for them during the cooler months ahead, follow some basic guidelines:
Nitrogen should be kept to a minimum during the winter months. Feed plumerias in mid-October with a low nitrogen fertilizer using one tablespoon per gallon pot. Gro Power® Flower N’ Bloom 3-12-12 is recommended. Follow the label instructions for potted and in-ground plants. This will nourish the plumeria during the winter months.
You won’t need to feed your plumeria again until March or April, depending on when the weather starts to warm and they begin to leaf out.
As the cool weather sets in, the lower leaves on your plumeria will start to turn yellow and drop off. Stop regular watering of plumeria because over-watering is one of the best ways to kill plumeria. Water your plants lightly when they are dry, keeping only a minimum amount of moisture in the soil of container plants. During winter rains, make sure water does not puddle around the plant.
Frost and freezing cold temperatures can damage or even kill young plants and burn the tips of older plants. When frost or freeze is a threat, move your plumerias to a warmer place, such as indoors in a sunny window if they are in a pot. Use frost cloth or another over head cover for plants that are in the ground. Be sure whatever you are using does not touch the plant itself. Plumeria can also be strung with miniature holiday lights to generate enough heat to keep them warm.
In Southern California our weather conditions change rapidly from cool days to moderately warm days during the winter season. With such a wide range of microclimates, you should base feeding, storing, watering and overall care for you plumerias on this. A good rule of thumb for this time of year, “no leaves, no water.”
Taking care of your plumeria during the winter will make for a beautiful & happy plumeria come spring time!