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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Friday - July 04, 2008

From: Allen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure to bloom of tropical plumeria
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have had my plumeria for the past five years. The first three years it bloomed but has not the past two. The plant is healthy and continues to grow but will not flower. It seems to be very healthy and I have not changed the routine or its care. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

You didn't say if you were growing your Plumeria (common name Frangipangi) in a pot, inside or outside, what light it gets, etc. This is a tropical plant, deciduous, which should be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Allen, TX appears to be in Zone 7b. The plant will drop its leaves when temperatures go below 50 deg F. It also needs bright, all day sun. If it is outside, it should be in a sheltered spot, with reflected sunshine and heat a bonus. In your zone, it should be brought inside, best in a greenhouse, for the winter.

Plumerias produce a bloom hormone before sending seed to branch ends for flowers. This process can take years. The only way to be sure your plumeria will bloom right away is to take a cutting from a branch that has already bloomed. However, your plant started out blooming, and now has failed to do so. Unless something environmental has caused that hormone to quit working, that should not be the problem.

Plumerias are related to Oleanders, Nerium oleander, both of which possess poisonous, milky sap, so be careful handling it or letting children handle it.

None of which actually answers your questions. We have two possibilities: One, don't overwater it. Two, during blooming season it should be getting bi-weekly doses of a high phosphorus fertilizer. Phosphorus is the middle number in fertilizer designations. Most fertilizers are balanced, with the same amount of nitrogen as the other two. Nitrogen promotes green, healthy leaves but not flowering. For more information on this plant, see this Floridata website, Plumerias.

 

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