Returning customers know that once the weather brings in warmer temperatures that stay, plumeria soon arrives at the nurseries. These customers also know that once plumeria starts showing up at Rainbow Gardens, they don’t stay around for very long. These highly sought after tropical trees are coveted for their intensely fragrant and beautiful blooms that can easily transport ones mind to island time.
No need to spend an arm and leg on vacation expenses to see plumeria; just head in to Rainbow Gardens during the early summer months. Today we are talking about how to take of these tropical beauties in your San Antonio gardens.
7 Tips for Growing Plumeria in San Antonio
1. Light requirement: Plumeria need full to mostly full sun, as you probably deduced by plumeria being a tropical plant. A minimum of 6-8 hours of sunshine is best to get those fragrant flowers blooming.
2. Where and where not to plant: Here in San Antonio, plumeria should NOT be planted in the ground. Tropical in nature, they are cold sensitive and will need winter protection. While plumeria are hardy to 33° F, it’s a good idea to make plans to move them in once temps hit 40°F and lower (more about winter protection later).
3. Pot size: Plumeria need to be planted in pots optimal to supporting their growth. Planting in a pot too small doesn’t allow for the roots to have ample room to grow. Too small and too light of a pot could also cause the “top-heavy” plant to easily topple over on a windy or stormy day. The plant could be damaged and you will be sad, and we don’t want you to be sad.
- Plant in a pot too big and the soil may stay too wet. A general rule of thumb is to use a 1 gallon pot for each foot of trunk length. 1 foot = 1 gallon, 2 feet = 2 gallon, and so on. Yes, you may be repotting a few times, but you will know that your plumeria has the correct amount of spacing for its roots.
- Along with the correct pot size, make sure your plumeria pot has plenty of drainage holes to allow water to run through the soil and prevent “wet feet” (soggy roots) which can lead to root rot and the demise of your plumeria. Pots with only one hole can get clogged or blocked by the tap root easily.
- Pro Tip: Use black nursery containers to pot up your plumeria. They have ample drainage holes for water to flow freely, and they are cheap! You can buy a few different sizes to easily bump up to the next size needed as your plumeria grows. Buy a pretty ceramic pot and put the black nursery pot inside to hide it. Place large river rocks around the nursery pot for stability and aesthetic purposes. When your tree outgrows the first pot, simply pull out the nursery pot, repot to larger size, and arrange it back in your decorative pot. Easy peasy.
4. Soil: Soil should be acidic, light, and well-draining; something along the lines of a cactus and succulent potting mix soil is best. Regular potting soils, if used, should be amended with peat moss, perlite, or something of that nature to lighten soil, increase its water draining ability, and to increase soil acidity for spectacular blooms.
5. Fertilizer Plumeria are heavy feeders. Slightly acidic soil is preferred for plumerias. You can help this by choosing acidic fertilizers to feed your plant. Look for fertilizers with a high phosphate number on the bag (middle number) to keep those blooms going.
6. Water needs: While plumeria can go for extended periods without water, you MUST water more often when your plants are small, new, and just getting established.
- Small pots may need to be watered daily, but you will need to be observant. The key is to NOT OVERWATER. Plumeria need to be able to dry out between watering. In heavy periods of rain, like we experienced a week or so ago, you may need to move your pot under a shelter to prevent oversaturation.
- Stick your finger in the soil a couple of inches into the soil for to test for soil moisture. Again, allow them to dry out between waterings.
7. Winter protection: As stated above, plumeria are only cold hardy to about 33° F. They will need to be brought in from outside during the winter season. This is the best…plumeria go dormant over winter, meaning they need no light, no water, and no soil at this time and will still remain alive! Yes, really!
You can remove your plumeria from its pot, use a gentle hand to remove the soil from around its roots, and store your plant in an unheated garage, the attic, or a spare room if you have one. (Ooh… a spare room just for plants, sounds heavenly!) Your plumeria will be fine throughout winter, unattended to. Once spring rolls in again and all danger of frost has passed, pot your plumeria back up and get ready to enjoy it again for another warm season!
Psst…The pic of plumeria on the table was taken this Wednesday at Rainbow Gardens Thousand Oaks. Go get you one!
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy
Truly enjoyed the article. Fun and playful wording showing enthusiasm for gardening. Thank you.
Thank you so much Joan! We appreciate you taking the time to read and comment to let us know how we’re doing!
What container should plumeria be placed in when put in garage for winter? I bring mine in and out of garage in San Antonio because our winter weather can be mild.
Right now, they leafless and outside. How should I care for them right now?
You don’t really even need to have the plumeria in a container over winter. You shake off all the dirt around the root ball and place it somewhere safe in garage (up on a shelf or above rafter if possible). The plant goes dormant so will be fine until spring. Right now, just follow the advice for potting and caring in this blog. The leaves will sprout once it begins to be warmer for a longer period of time.
Just to clarify, if I remove my plumeria out of the pot to bring in the garage the roots stay on and will not dry out through out winter? Or does it need to be protected with some type of covering?
The roots will be fine. The plant goes dormant through the winter.
Will they shed leaves in winter or do you remove from soil with the leaves still present?
Plumeria will go into dormancy and eventually drop their leaves through winter. When it is time to bring your plumeria in to protect from cold temperatures, there may or may not still be leaves attached. They will fall off naturally. I would make plans to bring in your plumeria for the winter when temps threaten to fall below 40°F.
Thank you for this article. I have seen plumerias becoming quite popular the last few years but many people don’t understand what it takes to truly care for them. I’ve had my 2 plumerias trees for going on 12 years now and they give me lots of beautiful, amazingly fragrant flowers each year! I even have my first ever seed pod on one! I find it amazing that they really need nothing in the Winter other than a nice place to hibernate. Good luck to all who are getting their first plumerias 🙂
So happy that you love your plumerias as much as we love ours! Thank you for taking the time to read our article! Here’s wishing to many more years of fragrant flowers for you!
What wonderfully sound advice. This is one of the few places that give detailed info on plumeria plants. Thank you so very much.
Can’t wait to go hunting for the pots and soil to be ready for my starts when they arrive!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read. We will be putting out an email blast in our newletters when plumeria show up. They are always a hit.
I have had 2 plumerias for years. One is tall and thin with red blooms and the other squat with bodious white lovely blossoms. I think the white. even though it is older, blooms because it has full sunlight. They spend the winter in the garage. Maybe a little work moving them back and forth but definitely worth it.
Thank you for your info Susan. Yes, most likely you are getting more blooms on the white one due to sun exposure. I am glad to hear it sounds like you enjoy your plumerias as much as we enjoy ours!
Well written you guys👍
Thank you Richard! It truly means a lot that you took the time to read our musings.
Great Nursery & head man is VERY HELPFUL👍 But no Rosemary😛
Thanks for the compliments! Yes, when we finally are able to bring in rosemary to the nurseries, it flies out the doors! We’ll keep looking for it and bringing it in.
Sounds like a plant even I couldn’t kill! Love the fact that it can over winter in the dark garage, no back and forth for sunlight, much easier on the owner.
Yes, I love the winter care for this tropical plant too! Easy peasy!
I want one of the orange ones so bad. I loved this article about their care. I need to save this to refer to as time goes on. Are they at the Bandera Rd location too?
Yes! Both locations have these in stock. We expect them to go fast, so come visit soon! Thanks for taking the time to read!
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!
enjoyed the article. thank you guys!
Thank you for reading! Appreciate your support!
I brought back plumeria cuttings from Hawaii in November and decided to get them to root, which they did with the help of a heat mat/lamp and a warm laundry room. They have had lots of big beautiful leaves and the start of many flowers, the first blooming last week. A few days ago I started putting them outside in the sun for a few hours to hopefully acclimate them. Very quickly the leaves have started turning brown and dropping, could they be going dormant?? I live in the SA area, thanks for any advice 🙂
A couple of things could have happened. They might have gotten burned from sun or windburned, but it seems like you were acclimating so not likely. Did they ever stay out on a cool night because they could have gone into shock. For now, we would suggest making sure that they dry out between waterings and and bring it inside on nights that are below 50°, as well as bring them in on any days when we are getting cold north winds.
Loved the article. I have two very tall plumerias. One yellow and the other will surprise me when it blooms someday. I want to cut up some of both for propagation. I have read how to do so. I plan to purchase more plumeria from you.
Wonderful Darlene! I wish you the best of luck with your propagating!
Why do you charge $84 for plumerias? They are so easy to root that it does not make sense you charge so much.
I honestly don’t remember us having plumerias for that cost. Unless it was a tricolor, unique variety, perhaps? What location did you see this at?
The photo that’s being shown on this website has $84.99 on the pots.
You are absolutely right! This is an old photo! But it does look like they were priced that way then. It could have been due to the supply that year. This year’s prices are 1 gallon/$24.99 and 2 gallon/$34.99. Thank you for pointing out the picture. Will update it immediately to a different one.
My Husband just bought me a Texas Plumeria on clearance from the grocery store. 🙃.
I have never had one before and found your blog while Googling how to care for them. Thank you. I know have a direction. I am North of Austin.
I bought a plumeria at a flea market. It has beautiful leaves. But has never bloomed, this is my third year with plant. I leave it in the sun, but bring it to my patio and cover it when it gets cold at night. How do I get it to bloom?
If you live here in San Antonio, it’s time to store your plumeria inside as described in the blog as it is going dormant for the winter and needs to be protected from the cold temperatures. In spring when it gets warmer and you have brought it back outside, fertilizer needs to be offered. They need a fertilizer with a hight phosphorous number. If you haven’t been feeding your plumeria this could be one of the problems. It sounds like you are giving your plumeria at least 6 hours of sun, so the problem may simply be a matter of time. It can take plumeria a few years to start blooming.