Plumeria Bloom: The All-Encompassing Guide

By far the biggest appeal of plumeria plants is their fragrance, emitted right through summer from the iconic plumeria blooms. Plumeria, or frangipani, flowers, have a sweet scent similar to peaches and cream.

Every flower in the plumeria family has a unique perfume, which only gets better as young plants mature. In this article, we’re going to cover all the elements of plumeria care that are important to strong, healthy, plumeria blooms, whether you’ve got garden trees or potted plants.

About Plumeria Blooms

Plumeria flowers are best known for their use in traditional Hawaiian leis, as the sturdy petals are strung together to form necklaces, belts and garment decorations.

In nature, their scent is designed to attract pollinating birds and insects like hummingbirds and butterflies, so reflect the sweet sugary nectar, but what we often forget is that these tropical trees need a snap of cold weather to trigger winter dormancy in order to produce their best blooms.

The benefits and uses of plumeria blooms

Plumeria nectar is often used in perfumery and fragrances, and the oil extracted from plumeria blossoms is used to treat inflammation and headaches thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Other uses for plumeria oil are muscle relaxants and stress relievers. Like many strongly perfumed plants, it has relaxing properties too but these are reportedly down to its powerful antioxidants.

When do plumerias bloom?

Plumerias grown in their natural tropical environment have a very long growing season and can bloom for up to ten months of the year, but in cultivation, at home, or in our gardens in cooler climates plumeria plants bloom for around two to three months each year.

To extend plumeria blooming time, make sure to feed them with high phosphorous fertilizer during their growing season, particularly in late spring and summer. this helps promote better bloom production rather than foliage growth. Regularly dead-heading flowers as they begin to fade reduces the chances of your plumeria plant putting its energy into seed production too, which, again, increased bloom production.

How to Help a Plumeria Bloom

Despite the fact that most of our homes are about as far as possible from the natural habitat of a plumeria plant, it doesn’t take that much work to help healthy growth and encourage your small tree to flower.

Most plumeria care is common sense. They like warm climates, and prefer dappled shade to full sun. Like most tropical trees they dislike humidity but don’t like to completely dry out. And just as they would receive nutrients slowly in the wild, they prefer slow-release fertilizer to concentrated nutrients.

Below, we’ll go through the basic steps to increase plumeria flowers:

Prune your plumeria

Most importantly, plumeria, despite being tropical plants, have very similar growing habits to native trees and shrubs. They flower better on new growth and sprout after winter dormancy.

Regularly pruning is key to success with plumeria, and remember that pruning in winter promotes growth, while pruning in summer slows it down.

To prune a plumeria properly, follow our plumeria pruning guide:

  1. Prune plumeria in winter, or early spring to promote flowers.
  2. Sharpen, and clean your secateurs.
  3. Find a healthy branch, and look for last year’s node (where the leaves sprouted).
  4. Cut back to two nodes below the tip, and cut just above the node.
  5. This promotes side shoots, and new growth when your plumeria starts growing again.

Re-potting or adding soil

Plumeria should have their potting soil every other growing season. This just means that once every two years, you should take a plumeria out of its container, gently shake the roots to promote new growth, and then put the entire plant back into a container with fresh compost.

when you re-pot a plumeria use a good quality compost mix, with organic matter that is rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen promotes root growth, and overall plant health so gives your plant a kick start for the year in its new home.

If you have a standard potting mix, feed your plumeria with high nitrogen fertilizers for two weeks after potting on. This helps it to establish new roots.

Keep an eye on soil moisture at this time, as the disturbed roots should have reasonable levels of soil moisture, without drying out, or becoming waterlogged.

Plumeria Care Regime for Blooming

As well as those key tips to promote healthy plumeria blooming, there are some general considerations for any plumeria parent to maintain a healthy plant. and healthy plants grow healthy flowers!


Frangipani blooms are brighter, and more fragrant in brighter light conditions, but should never be placed in direct sunlight. While plumeria is in bloom it produces masses of nectar, and its leaves are pumped full of chlorophyll (the stuff that makes them green).

When you place a plumeria in full sun while flowering, it can dry out, which encourages pests like spider mites to feed on the base of flowers, and the surface of leaves. To avoid this, keep plumeria in bright, but dappled light.


In summer, plumeria grown indoors should always have good ventilation, but never be exposed to winds, so near, but not directly next to, a window is perfect.

Too much shade can cause rapid temperature drops and the fluctuations will cause leaves to store, and then lose water in the afternoon. This can be avoided with at least six hours of sunlight, and a regular temperature of between 70-80 degrees.

Fertilizer: Feed with Phosphorous

From late spring, when your small tropical trees are starting to grow more rapidly and buds are forming, feed them with phosphorous. Phosphorous is particularly useful for tropical flowering shrubs and trees, as well as fruiting plants like tomatoes. It promotes flowers and essential oil production.

If you are growing plumeria outdoors, provide phosphorous as a slow-release fertilizer or a granular fertilizer in spring so as to not upset the soil bacteria and any fungal systems that might be supporting the tree’s development.

Checking and Spraying Tips for Insects

Plumeria suffers from a common problem called black tip fungus. this is caused by insects gathering and easing the rich sap from carbohydrate packed buds before flowers emerge. the damage allows the fungal infection to enter the plant through spores, or water and requires that part of the plant to be removed.

If you notice insects on plumeria tips, spray them with a high-pressure hose to remove them, and treat the area with diluted neem oil. Neem oil is a natural and organic pesticide, which should be used in the evenings when pollinators are less active. Once dry it is inert and won’t harm other living creatures.

Why is Your Plumeria not Blooming?

If you’ve done everything above right, and your plumeria still isn’t blooming, there might be an underlying problem, either with your plant’s health or with your plumeria care routine.

Below we look at common problems that might be the cause of a plumeria not blooming.


The most common cause of plumerias failing to bloom, particularly in early summer, is overwatering. Overwatering not only risks root rot but also flushes the soil of nutrients.

Even if you are applying fertilizer regularly, overwatering will dilute essential minerals and neutralize the soil. Plumerias need slightly acidic soil to be able to take up nutrients, so only ever water a plumeria when the top inch of soil is dry.

Lack of fertilizer

If you’re relying on soil conditions, rather than a reliable fertilizer product for plumeria food, then you’ll need to think again. Fertilizer is a key element of plumeria care, and a lack of fertilizer can cause plants to wilt, and eventually die completely.

Plumerias are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizer, so if you’re unable to water or feed with a regular liquid feed, try slow-release granular fertilizers instead.


Just as a lack of fertilizer can damage frangipani plants, overfeeding can cause serious problems too. We always suggest feeding plumeria once every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced liquid feed diluted in water.

If you notice wet buds that fail to open, stop fertilizing, and move your plumeria to a warmer or better-ventilated location. Overwatering and overfeeding can cause flowers to become heavy and waterlogged, which means the petals stick together and fail to open.

Lack of sunlight

We always say that plumerias need dappled, but bright light, rather than full sun. This can be quite hard to find in most homes, so if in doubt, give them more sun, rather than less.

Plumerias are able to cope with full sun, but they can create pest problems. If you’re happy to keep pests under check, then move your plumeria to a brighter location in a south-facing window in early summer to make the most of the summer sun.

The warmer your plant, the better it will bloom.

Plumeria not old enough to bloom

Gardeners often expect plants to jump into action as soon as they bring them home, but plumeria plants need time to develop and settle into their new homes.

Youn plumeria plants grown from cuttings, or from seeds, will usually flower in their first or second year, but some take as long as four years to flower effectively, so don’t worry. IOften young plants just aren’t ready to flower yet.

Mature plumeria plants can often be shocked when they move to a new location too, so if your mature frangipani has been moved recently, or you’ve just bought it, it can take time to acclimatise.

Insects & Diseases that Prevent Plumeria from Blooming

Apart from frangipani care, there are three very specific problems that will cause a plumeria plant to stop blooming:

  • Plumeria buds dropping off
  • Insect damage
  • Black tip fungus

Below, we’re going to talk bout each problem, and how to treat it.

Plumeria buds falling off

Plumerias are most susceptible to root rot in winter if you water them during their dormant season, but overwatering can cause damage even in the middle of the growing season in summer.

Overwatering can cause buds to drop off for two reasons:

  • Root rot caused by overwatering
  • Overwatering causes flower buds to become saturated and drop from the sheer weight

If your plumeria plant is in full bloom, the temptation is the water and feed as much and as often as possible, but avoid the temptation. Only water these plants when they need it.

Insect damage

Insect damage creates broken, torn, and exposed plant tissue, which lets fungal infections and bacterial problems take hold almost overnight. Even if there is no sign of fungal infection, insects eating away at the base of flowers for their nectar, or even some species of bee, can weaken flowers.

If there is no sign of insects, it’s likely bees trying to access the hidden nectar. If there are clusters of insects, remove them.

Black tip fungus

Black tip fungus is one of the worst plumeria diseases, but it’s usually temporary if you catch it early. Black tip fungus is slow to spread, but if left undiagnosed will move from tip to tip, carried by insects, humidity, and watering.

Rather than blooms falling off, they will simply fail to emerge at all. If you notice the growing tips of your plumeria turning, yellow, then brown, then black, cut them off. It’s impossible to remove save the affected growing tip (which sometimes contains flower buds, and sometimes leaves or young shoots) but by removing it you prevent it from spreading to the rest of the plant.

To prevent black tip fungus, keep an eagle eye on pests, and only water your plants at the base, rather than wetting the leaves. Wetting top growth promotes excess humidity which, in turn, increases the chance of fungal infection.

Best Fertilizers for Plumeria Blooms

While plumerias need a generally balanced fertilizer throughout the year, they need often need an extra boost of phosphorous to help them bloom, but there are other considerations besides the standard N-P-K ratios you see on fertilizer packs, including micronutrients like calcium.

For a full guide to the best fertilizers for plumerias’ overall plant health, we’ve published a fertilizer fact sheet, with links to the best frangipani fertilizers, but below we’re going to focus on those that are best for blooming:

1. Down to Earth Organic Bone Meal Fertilizer

Bone meal is bone meal, so there are plenty of brands to choose from, but the recyclable packing from Down to Earth’s all-natural fertilizers is a great bonus. Most importantly though, their bone meal is by far the best natural and organic fertilizer for boosting plumeria blooms.

Like any plumeria bloom boosters, bone meal lacks potassium, so will need extra fertilizers to help with overall plant health, but if you’ve recently repotted your frangipani this won’t be a problem.


  • Organic
  • Slow Release
  • Not toxic to humans and pets
  • High phosphorous
  • Compostable packaging
  • Can be used on most flowering plants


  • Bone meal can attract vermin
  • Low potassium (required additional folia feed)



2. Down to Earth Organic Rock Phosphate Fertilizer

NPK is always the most important thing to look for with plumeria feeds, giving a great indication of what the fertilizer can be sued for. In the case of rock phosphate, it is 0-3-0, meaning it is a low-level phosphorous feed, with no nitrogen or potassium. This might sound negative, but because it’s such a low ratio, it’s a great way to gently feed your plant throughout the year.

Low NPKs often indicate other micronutrients too. In this case, the important one is calcium. High calcium levels in rock phosphate help with bud retention, making flowers last longer.


  • Organic
  • Slow Release
  • Non-toxic to humans and pets
  • High phosphorous
  • No odours
  • Compostable packaging
  • Can be used on most flowering plants


  • Low potassium and nitrogen



3. Miracle-Gro 1-Pound 1360011 Water Soluble Bloom Booster

Miracle-Gro produces synthetic fertiliser, so don’t use this if you’re aiming for an organic garden, but, for well-balanced plant food with a leaning to phosphorous, this is one of the best bloom boosters you can buy.

Because it’s well balanced, you can fertilise right through spring and summer with Miracle-Gro. Your results might not be as spectacular as a tailored feeding regime, but you’ll have a happy, healthy, plumeria that flowers for at least 2-3 months.


  • Balanced potassium and nitrogen, but predominantly phosphorous
  • Quick-release soluble fertilizer
  • No odours
  • Can be used on most flowering plants
  • Recyclable packaging


  • Not organic
  • Toxic to humans and pets



4. RAW – Phosphorus Plant Nutrient

RAW is the brand name, rather than a description here, so thankfully it isn’t raw phosphorous, which would completely decimate your plumeria roots. What RAW is great at though is emergency fertilisers.

The extremely high phosphorous levels in RAW’s plant food is perfect for helping struggling plumerias that aren’t showing signs of buds in early summer. If you’re worried there’s a problem with phosphorous uptake but the roots are looking fine, try adding this to your fertilizer regime for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.


  • No odours
  • High phosphorous with added nitrogen for root support
  • Quick-release soluble liquid feed
  • Can be used on most flowering plants


  • Plastic packaging
  • Not organic
  • Toxic to humans and pets



5. Nelson Plumeria Plant and All Flowering Tropicals Food

We couldn’t have a list of the best frangipani bloom boosters without Nelson’s plumeria food. Nelson’s makes dedicated plant foods designed to support blooming for as long as possible, with a perfect mix of micronutrients and macronutrients (NPK) that supports plumeria right through the growing season.

The only downside of Nelson’s, like most synthetic plant foods, is that it’s toxic to humans and pets, so should be sued with caution.


  • The perfect NPK balance
  • Slow-release
  • Can be used on most flowering plants
  • Designed specifically for plumeria


  • Toxic to pets and humans
  • Non-organic
  • Plastic packaging



Plumeria blooming FAQ

Will a plumeria bloom in its first year?

Most plumeria trees bloom in their first year from cuttings, but some species can take up to three, even four, years to bloom to their full potential. If your young plumeria isn’t blooming, move it to a brighter spot, and prune it gently in winter to promote new growth in spring.

Do plumerias bloom all year?

In their native habitat, plumeria can bloom almost all year, with a short dormant season over winter. As indoor, or greenhouse plants, they typically bloom for two months in summer, but in ideal conditions can continue flowering right through from May to November.

How do you care for plumeria flowers?

Caring for plumeria flowers is all about overall plant health, but there are a few tips for maintaining the health of individual flowers once they bloom. When your plumeria is blooming, you can help keep the flower on the plant for longer if it is kept indoors and not pollinated. By removing spent flowers you also increase the production of new flowers.

What do plumeria flowers symbolise?

The plumeria flower represents new beginnings and marks the beginning of spring in its native environment. Like cherry trees in Japan, their blooms are iconic national symbols in Hawaiian culture used to signify new starts. when single flowers are worn behind the right ear, it shows someone is single and ready to meet a new partner. If worn behind the left ear, the lei flower symbolises an existing romantic commitment.


From folk lore to perfumery, the Hawaiian lei flower, or frangipani blossom, or plumeria bloom (whatever you decide to call it) is steeping in history, but besides all that, it is simply a beautiful flower and for gardeners, symbolises dedication and skill.

As you’ve probably guessed we adore plumeria here, and their annual displays of fragrant blossoms are the centre of our gardening calendar.

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