Growing Plumeria Indoors: The Complete Care & Growth Guide

Growing plumeria indoors is the easiest way to control and manage light, temperatures, and water for plumeria plants when you live in cooler climates. For those of us lucky enough to live in higher temperature parts of the country, it’s definitely possible to grow plumeria outdoors for most of the year, but for most plumeria growers, plumeria will almost always bloom better indoors.

In this article, we’re going to give you all the best tips and tricks for growing plumeria indoors, and help you to avoid some of the common problems when growing plumeria indoors too.

Plumeria Plants

Plumeria, or the frangipani plant, is a flowering tropical plant that typically reaches around 2m tall in cultivation. while plumeria can be picky about their growing conditions once you get used to their annual rhythm they are simple to care for and reward you with beautifully fragrant flowers every summer.

Are plumeria houseplants?

USDA hardiness zones are designed to give a guide over frost and heat tolerance in plants. While the USDA hardiness guide is far from perfect, as it doesn’t account for coastal winds or rainfall, it will usually give a good indication of where you can grow plants outdoors, and when it is best to grow them indoors.

Plumeria grows best in tropical conditions, so should be grown in USDA hardiness zones 10B-11, but can grow outdoors for most of the year between 9-10 too. In some zone 7-8 states, plumeria can grow well in south-facing gardens in summer but will work better indoors.

All states not on the list below should grow plumeria indoors as ho0useplants, all year round:

Some states fall in zone 6 below those guidelines, but can still grow plumeria outdoors in summer provided you have a warm sunny spot in the garden:

  • Arkansas
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

The following states should grow plumeria outdoors in summer, but keep it as a houseplant from early fall to late spring:

  • Delaware (zone 7)
  • Southern Kansas (zone 7)
  • Tennessee (zone 7)
  • Massachusetts (zone 7)
  • North Carolina (zone 7/8)
  • Arkansas (zone 8)
  • Alabama (zone 8/9)
  • Arizona (zone 8/9)
  • Northern California (zone 8/9)
  • Northern Florida (zone 8/9)
  • Georgia (zone 7/8/9)
  • Hawaii (zone 9)
  • Louisiana (zone 8/9)
  • Mississippi (zone 8/9)
  • Nevada (zone 9)
  • New Mexico (zone 9)
  • Oregon (zone 8/9)
  • South Carolina (zone 8/9)
  • Texas (zone 7/8/9)
  • Utah (zone 9)
  • Washington (zone 8/9)

The following states can grow plumeria outdoors all year round:

  • Southern California (zone 10)
  • Southern Florida (zone 10)
  • Hawaii (zone 11-12)

How to Care for Plumeria Indoors

Plumeria is a tropical plant that enjoys some humidity, high temperatures, and bright dappled sunlight. In their natural environment, they thrive in open spaces, sitting in full sun, but enjoying free-draining soil and rainfall all to themselves.

To help create similar conditions indoors it’s best to avoid letting plumeria dry out completely, but never overwatering, and aim to find a bright sunny spot where they have access to around 6 hours of bright light per day. Ideally, place plumeria in filtered or dapple flight to avoid any sunburn to their leaves.

We’ll cover each aspect of indoor plumeria care in detail below:

Basic indoor Plumeria Needs

Indoor plants have some basic growing needs. From early spring right through to winter dormancy, plumeria trees need the right mix of each of the following:

  • Light
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Humidity
  • Soil

Below, we’ll cover each element to get your potted plant thriving, producing gorgeous plumeria buds, and hopefully looking good right through spring and summer.

The right light for growing and flowering Plumeria

Plumeria, or the Hawaiian lei plant, needs bright light, particularly to develop flowering buds. Natural light is ideal, but artificial light can be a useful tool if you live in a darker region, or don’t have a good south-facing window.

While plumeria can cope with direct light, we always recommend trying to filter that light, either by placing plumeria by a frosted window or in a window where some foliage shades the midday sun slightly from outside.

Aim to give indoor plumerias around 6-8 hours of sun per day through spring and summer. If you can’t provide at least six hours of bright sunshine per day, it’s definitely worth looking through our guide to grow lights below.

Plumeria growing temperatures

While plumeria grows best in tropical climates, they are surprisingly adaptable to lower temperatures, and average room temperature is usually good enough to help plumeria flowers grow and develop. The ideal temperature for plumeria plants is 60-65°F where possible.

The key to finding the right temperature, though, is balance. If you have a warm room and a bright window, your plumeria will require more regular watering and some ventilation. If, however, you have a cool room with not much natural light, your plumeria is at a higher risk of root rot as moisture will sit for longer around plumeria roots.

For any indoor potted plants, increased temperatures always need to work hand-in-hand with ventilation. Poorly ventilated but warm rooms can become overly humid, which can cause plumeria buds to stay shut.

Indoor plumeria water requirements

The first thing you learn when you start your journey as a plumeria grower is watering. Plumeria plants hate wet soil but are also bad at coping with drought, so it’s important to keep on top of watering.

Understand your soil, and watch for signs of stress in plumeria trees, like crisp leaves, wilt, or a lack of vigor. All three can be signs of badly watered plants.

Plumeria in direct sun, with slight ventilation, and a temperature of around 60-65°F will need watering once a week. Plumeria in indirect light, at a temperature of 50°F, will need watering once every two weeks to avoid standing water.

The best way to tell if your plants need water is to poke your finger into the soil. If it comes out with moist compost stuck to your finger, don’t water it. If your finger comes out dry, water.

Indoor plumeria humidity requirements

Humidity is much more important for plumeria healthy than we previously thought. Many plumeria growers sued to avoid humidity as it encouraged pests, but low humidity can actually be very beneficial to plumeria trees when they are grown indoors.

Low levels of humidity help leaves retain moisture, prevent soil from drying out too quickly, and actually help discourage spider mites, who prefer dry conditions.

Indoor plumeria soil requirements

Plumeria grown indoors need slightly different soil than plumeria grown outdoors. Particularly plumeria plants grown in containers. The most important factor from plumeria soil conditions indoors is quantity.

Plumeria roots are fast-growing when plants are young, but as p[umeria mature their roots slow down and take longer to fill pots. When you pot on a plumeria tree, never increase the pot size by more than 2″ as the excess soil and compost will hold water that its roots can’t reach. this harbors funguses and bacteria in standing water.

Make sure to add plenty of perlite or grit to any indoor plumeria potting mix to aid drainage, but also ensure there is plenty of compost mixed into your plants’ posting soil.

How to Get Plumeria Flowers Indoors

Now you know the basics of how to grow plumeria indoors, and keep overall plumeria healthy and in good condition, it’s time to think about flowering – the main reason we grow plumeria in the first place.

Plumeria flowers benefit massively from good quality fertilizers, which work just as well for indoor plants as outdoor plumeria. Check out our guide to choosing the best plumeria fertilizer for more information.

Indoor plumeria face one significant challenge to flowering – light levels. Tropical plants are triggered into flowering through a number of factors:

  • Overall health
  • Temperature
  • Day length (daylight hours)

Indoor plants are in shade for more of the year than outdoor plants and this often causes them to produce buds too early, or too late in the season. One great way to encourage plumeria to bloom is by using grow lights.

Grow lights for plumeria flowers

While most of us seek out south-facing gardens for the best sunlight, we know there are millions of plumeria growers stuck with north-facing windows, and no suitable south-facing space to grow plumeria. This can make it difficult to get 6 hours of sunlight per day for a plumeria plant.

In those cases, 600W grow lights provide full-spectrum lighting which is as close to natural light as you can get indoors without spending a fortune. For growers with east or west-facing windows which are shaded for most of the day, but get good natural light for a few hours in the mornings or evenings, you can buy grow lights that just provide red and blue light, which actively encourage flowering in plumeria.

We’ve also published a buyer’s guide to grow lights for plumerias, which gives all the information about different specifications and light requirements at different times of the year.

Overwintering plumeria indoors

Indoor plumerias need a period of dormancy to trigger flowering the following year. this helps them maintain a healthy rhythm, and gives them a much-needed break from their high-energy nectar production.

In mid-fall, stop watering your plumeria plants indoors, and move them somewhere shaded, with little to no humidity. This triggered a shut down in plumeria plants, and they stop taking up moisture, nutrients and anything else that would otherwise exp[end energy during the cooler months.

In spring, when the days begin to get brighter, move your plumeria back to a bright, sunny, location indoors, and resume watering. This triggers new growth, but more importantly, new flower buds in early summer.

For a full guide on overwintering plumeria for healthier plants, read our guide to plumeria winter dormancy.

How to propagate plumeria indoors

Plumeria propagation is best done in controlled spaces indoors. whether you are germinating plumeria from seed or propagating plumeria cuttings, the controlled light and temperatures we can provide indoors are always going to have better results than outdoor propagation.

Follow our propagation guides to grow plumeria from cuttings, or to harvest and germinate plumeria seed pods.

One key thing to think about when propagating plumeria is that they do light dappled light, as they would naturally germinate in warm, humid conditions, under the canopy of their parents. This can be created easily in south-facing windows using a heated propagator, but for north-facing windows, consider using grow lights.

The best fertilizers for indoor plumeria

As with all houseplants, plumeria need feeding. They aren’t fed through minerals and nutrients in rainwater and don’t benefit from the naturally nutrient-rich soils in our earth, so it’s important to feed indoor plumeria plants regularly using a balanced feed.

Foliar feeds are particularly useful as part of a regular feeding routine for plumeria, as they support leaves and foliage directly, meaning roots have more energy to commit to flower buds.

For mature plumeria plants indoors, use slow-release fertilisers to support their ongoing health, but for actively growing plumeria which can grow 1-2ft per year in their first few years, use different feeds on alternating weeks:

  • Week 1: Liquid feed
  • Week 2: Water & Mist
  • Week 3: Water
  • Week 4: Liquid Feed & Foliar Feed
  • Week 5: Water
  • Week 6: Water & Mist

Repeat that feeding routine through spring and summer, and stop feeding when the day lengths start to shorten to allow for winter dormancy. Follow our plumeria fertilizer guide for links to the best liquid and foliar feeds for plumeria.

Common problems for indoor plumeria plants

Growing any plant indoors adds potential problems, usually as a result of increased humidity and poor ventilation, but the opposite can be just as damaging. Plumeria placed near air conditioning units can become dehydrated and suffer symptoms similar to sunburn even in the middle of winter.

Artificial heat from air-con units, refrigeration, or central heating is incredibly damaging to plants, so even in winter, it’s good to have somewhere in the house that can act as a heat sink, without using its own heat source.

For example, we have a sunroom which faces the garden and usually drops to around 40F in winter, while the rest of the house can be as cold as 30F with no heating on. Plumeria can’t tolerate freezing, even during dormancy, so find somewhere that they can be without radiators, but that also won’t freeze or get near freezing.

Indoor plumeria pests

Plumeria can suffer from all sorts of pests and diseases; from spider mites to grasshoppers, but indoors there is only one truly devasting group of pests that will cause lasting damage to plumeria plants: mealybugs and scale.

Mealybugs and scale are the same families of insects, but each has different outer shells and produces slightly different coatings to protect themselves.

The increased humidity, and regular watering of houseplants, plus the lack of natural predators encourage mealybug on plumeria. By finding a good bright spot, with natural ventilation, you cannot only benefit from visiting predators in summer when the windows are open, but also from better ventilation, which reduces humidity and prevents plants from becoming saturated.

To help reduce the risk of common plumeria pests, follow our dedicated articles here:

Indoor plumeria diseases

Most diseases found on indoor plumerias are caused by bad locations. This could mean that it’s too sunny, too humid, too wet, or the balance of watering is just completely wrong, but often it’s more subtle problems, like spent compost, or restricted roots that are harder to spot.

Apart from exceptional circumstances where you can grow plumeria in the ground of a heated greenhouse, 99% of indoor plumeria are grown in containers. The big benefit of growing plumeria in containers is that you can instantly check them for root rot, or pot-bound roots.

If you suspect there is a problem affecting the roots of your frangipani tree, gently tip it out of the pot and check for the following problems:

  1. Roots circling the compost, wrapping around the root ball, or poking out of drainage holes.
    1. These roots are restricted and need potting on. they will be struggling to take nutrients to the plant, and you will likely see yellow or wilting leaves as a result.
  2. Blackened roots
    1. Blackened or mushy roots are the signs of root rot. The only option here is to shake off all the soil around the roots and trim off any roots that aren’t cream, white, pale green, or light brown. This can be harsh to the pant, so it’s good to cut back some of the top growth to take the strain off the roots while they recover. After trimming, wash the roots and allow them to dry off for 10-15 minutes, then repot in new soil.
  3. Wet soil but dry leaves
    1. If the soil around your plumeria roots is wet, but the leaves are crisping, wilting, or showing signs of underwatering, there are two likely problems. One is under-acidity, where the root are failing to pass nutrition up to the plant. Try adding coffee ground to the soil to help acidify the soil. This supports nutrient uptake in plumeria roots.
    2. The second scenario is mites, which are tiny insects that often go unnoticed. In large numbers they can hide under the leaves before infestations are noticeable, and eat around leaves, petioles, and nodes, preventing nutrients from passing from the stem to the foliage.

Indoor Plumeria FAQs

Does plumeria do well indoors?

In northern states of the US, or anywhere below USDA hardiness zone H6, plumeria should be grown indoors all year round. With the right care, plumeria will thrive indoors, provided they have 6-8 hours of bright, dappled light per day, and are never left to dry out completely.

How do you care for a plumeria plant indoors?

to care for indoor plumeria, find a bright spot, with at least six hours of bright light per day. Water regularly when the soil is starting the dry out, and provide a good quality foliar feed, or regular liquid feed to your plants. As plumeria mature, move to slow-release fertilizers in spring and provided them with good ventilation to avoid over-humidifying your plants.

How do I get my plumeria to bloom indoors?

The best way to get plumeria to bloom indoors is light. If you don’t have access to a south-facing window, try using grow lights. Full-spectrum grow lights, or red/blue grow lights give plumeria everything they need to develop healthy blooms. PIn terms of fertilizer nutrition, plumeria bloom better indoors with added potassium and calcium.

How do you overwinter a plumeria indoors?

Indoor plumeria should be overwintered just like outdoor plumeria. Move them somewhere cool, but not freezing, where they receive less than 6 hours of sunlight per day. This will automatically trigger dormancy in plumeria plants. Even if the soil dries to a crisp over winter do not feed or water plumerias.

Conclusion

Growing plumeria indoors is not only fun but can be much easier than growing plumeria outdoors in many states. Aim for 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, or supplement light with grow lights, and keep on top of watering. If you get that right you’re sure to have a healthy plumeria indoors for many years.

1 thought on “Growing Plumeria Indoors: The Complete Care & Growth Guide”

  1. I bought a plumeria about 2 weeks ago. I transplanted it on Sunday to a bigger pot. We noticed that it had the little white bugs so we sprayed it with a natural pest control spray. Yesterday it started wilting & today even the stalk has gotten soft & all the leaves are wilted.
    What should I do???

    Reply

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