Plumeria Cutting Propagation: How to Grow Plumeria Cuttings

If you’ve already got a healthy plumeria plant, and want to increase your stock we’ve got the perfect guide to plumeria cutting propagation so you can make more plants with healthy rootstock.

Unlike many deciduous shrubs, these tropical plants only like to be propagated in two ways – greenwood cuttings, and from seed. this article aims to teach you everything about rooting plumeria cuttings in potting soil.

How do Plumerias Propagate Naturally?

The frangipani plant, or Hawaiian lei plant, will never propagate its own cuttings in nature and prefers to drop its seeds directly beneath its own canopy after it’s finished producing its beautiful fragrant blooms in summer.

To propagate your frangipani plant cuttings as closely to their natural habit as possible they should be kept warm, but shaded, as though they are growing under the canopy of their parent.

Plumeria Growth Stages

Plumeria plants have four identifiable growth stages:

  1. Seedling and cuttings
  2. Young plants
  3. Flowering plants
  4. Mature plants

As seedlings and new cuttings, plumeria plants are developing new root growth and harnessing the energy in their cells to develop new stems and leaves.

Young plumeria plants will typically grow quite quickly, usually 1 ft. per year in good conditions through the growing season, and should be kept in a pot that slightly restricts their roots to prevent overwatering or overfeeding. They usually fill their container in 3-4 months after cutting.

Plumeria plants will need a larger pot in their second year if you can see any roots poking out the bottom of their container. These flowering plants now have enough energy in their roots to produce flowers on every branch.

Mature plumeria plants start to grow slower and can reach up to 20 ft. tall. When a plumeria reaches 5 ft. it will slow down its growth to around 6-7 inches per year.

Plumeria Propagation Methods

There are two ways to propagate plumeria; seed and cuttings.

We’re only going to focus on propagating plumeria from cuttings here, but read our article on growing plumeria from seed if you don’t have a mature plumeria to take cuttings from.

How To Cut Plumerias For Propagating?

Plumeria cuttings should be around 15 inches long, and you need to find no flowering shoots.

Plumeria, like most deciduous tropical plants, requires greenwood cuttings, which are best taken in late spring or early summer from new growth. The purpose of greenwood cuttings is to utilize nature’s ability to transform plant cells from stem cells, to root cells.

To take plumeria cuttings without damaging the parent plant you’ll also need to follow our pruning guide for plumeria plants, and understand that these plants are very susceptible to black tip fungus.

Black tip fungus occurs when moisture gets into the end of plumeria stems where they are damaged due to humidity, or standing water. To avoid this, cut the stem just below a leaf node, at a 45-degree angle so water can roll-off.

A step-by-step guide to cutting plumeria cuttings:

  1. Find a non-flowering stem that is 12-17″ long.
  2. Using clean secateurs, make a 45-degree cut just below a leaf node.
  3. Allow the cutting to callous over for 5-7 days to prevent rot when it is inserted into the soil.

When to take Plumeria Cuttings?

Plumerias cuttings should be taken in late spring or summer, making the most of the growing season. It’s important to take frangipani cuttings at this time as they go dormant in autumn and winter and will rot rather than root in their dormant season.

Because plumeria sends out new shoots early in spring, you will quickly have 12-15″ stems that are perfect to take cuttings from.

Transplanting Plumeria Cuttings

Once you’ve taken your plumeria cuttings and allowed them callous over it’s time to plant! In this section, we’re going to talk about how to prepare your soil for plumeria cuttings.

Transplanting Plumeria Cuttings in Soil

The most reliable way of rooting plumeria cuttings is to plant them directly in a good mix of potting soil and perlite, with a mulch of pea gravel. This is because plumeria love good drainage, and especially while their cuttings develop new roots they will need as much drainage as possible.

Remember that cuttings don’t have any way of transporting water until they have developed their first roots. This means that the ends of stems are very susceptible to rot if they are left sitting in water, and why we allowed them to callous in the previous step.

Materials you will need:

To prepare your soil for plumeria cuttings:

  1. Find a 6″ pot or any small container you have leftover from the garden center (black plastic is best as it controls drainage for young plants and stops light from getting in which can damage young roots).
  2. Make a potting mixture of 2/3 perlite, and 1/3 potting soil.Use a potting mixutre of 2/3 perlite and 1/3 potting soil
  3. Leave a 1″ gap between the top of the soil and the pot rim (it’s best to sieve the potting compost using a garden sieve first to remove large water-retaining materials).Fill the plumeria cutting container, leaving a 1" gap
  4. Measure and mark your cuttings 4″ from the bottom.Mark plumeria cuttings 4" from the bottom
  5. Dib a 3″ hole in the compost
  6. Dip your cutting in rooting hormoneDip plumeria cuttings in rooting hormone powder
  7. Place your cutting in the hole so that the mark is now level with the pot rim.
  8. Water your cutting until water runs out of the bottom of the container
  9. Top off the pot with 1″ of pea gravel. This stops water from sitting around the base of the stem and protects young leaves from soil splatter.Mulch plumeria cuttings with pea gravel

 

Transplanting Plumeria Cuttings in Water

While we strongly advise taking plumeria cuttings in potting soil rather than water, there are many plumeria collectors who swear by growing plumeria from cuttings rooted in water.

The advantage of rooting cuttings in water is that they row roots faster, and are less likely to get rot as a result of overwatering than cuttings taken in soil. It might sound counterintuitive, but by taking cuttings in water, and frequently changing that water, tropical plants specifically grow to cope with that environment.

The downside of taking cuttings in water is that when you pot your cuttings on into soil and perlite, they are more susceptible to fungal infections.

If you decide to try taking plumeria cuttings in water, the method below will give good results:

Materials you will need:

Method:

  1. Start by cutting a 15″ non-flowering stem from your plumeria plant.
  2. Allow your cutting to callous (or scab) over for one week.
  3. Cut at a 45-degree angle to prevent damage to the parent plant.
  4. Fill a tall jar with 6″ of distilled water.
  5. Drop your calloused cutting into the water.
  6. Place in a warm, bright, well-ventilated spot.
  7. Change the water every four days.
  8. When roots appear, move the cutting into potting soil and perlite (see method above).

How Long Does It Take Plumeria Cuttings To Root?

After you root plumeria cuttings they are very quick to develop new roots and can fill their small containers in just 90 days with new leaves quickly protruding from their stems.

After 90 days it’s important to move healthy cuttings into a new potting mixture, as they will have exhausted the nutrients in their potting soil. Take your potted plant out of its container, and gently brush off the soil roots with your hand (this will stimulate even more growth).

Mix 1/2 general purpose compost with 1/2 perlite, and repeat the same process as earlier with the cutting. You can use the same pea gravel to mulch the surface to protect the base of the stem.

Rooted plumeria cutting after 90 days

How to care for Plumeria cuttings

The four important aspects of plumeria cutting care are:

  • Pruning plumeria cuttings
  • Watering plumeria cuttings
  • Feeding plumeria cuttings
  • Light for plumeria cuttings

Now we’ve taken our plumeria cuttings, and it’s developed a root ball, follow the sections below to care for and maintain the health of your plumeria cutting.

How to Prune Plumeria Cuttings

Rooted plumeria cutting, ready for pruning

The most important advice when caring for plumeria cutting is pruning. Remember that the aim here is to produce a beautiful flowering tree, so the shape is key.

If you allow your plumeria cutting to grow too high in one direction it will always look leggy. When your plumeria reached 3 ft. tall, cut just above a pair of leaves. this will encourage side shoots, and more branches to host leaves.

To create a wider spread, and more open canopy, you can encourage your cutting to form a multi-stemmed tree by cutting back to a pair of leaves just 1 ft. from the ground in early winter. For any trees and shrubs, pruning in winter encourages growth, while pruning in summer restricts it, so prune your young plumeria in winter.

How to Water Plumeria Cuttings

Plumeria cuttings shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely, but it’s very important that you do not let them sit in water. Any cuttings, even bog plants, hate sitting in water until they’d develop roots, so only water them when the top inch of soil is dry.

Because we have mulched with pea gravel, it’s important to check your water levels regularly, so investing in a good moisture meter is a sensible option.

Tip: Young plumeria cuttings can be kept humid with plastic wrap or clear plastic bags which will prevent the soil from drying out as quickly for the first 2-3 weeks.

How to Feed Rooted Plumeria Cuttings

In warm climates, healthy cuttings can flower in their first year, but don’t worry if they don’t. It’s normal for young plants to wait to flower until after they form good roots in their second spring and summer.

To encourage fragrant blooms from your rooted cuttings, use a liquid fertilizer like Miracle Gro’s Bloom Booster Fertilizer, which has an N-P-K ratio of 10-52-10 with higher phosphorous to increase bud and flower health.

Try not to use anything with higher phosphorous or lower nitrogen and potassium yet, as your plant still needs all three major nutrient groups to develop roots and leaves as well as their iconic lei flowers.

The Right Light for Plumeria Cuttings

Plumeria cuttings need light, but not direct sun, and while they need some humidity to stop them from drying out entirely after the first leaves appear they should be kept in a relatively well-ventilated space.

Keep your plumeria cutting indoors if temperatures are below 18C of 70F, or if you keep your young plumeria plant outdoors, make sure it is in partial shade with dappled light in the afternoon.

Common Problems with Plumeria Cuttings

There are four common problems that can cause a plumeria cutting to fail. Those are:

  • Over-watering
  • Dehydration
  • Plumeria stem-rot
  • Pests

Over-watering a plumeria cutting

If you have regular problems with plumeria cuttings failing due to over-watering, try propagating your cuttings in water. This gives them a head start with roots which can prevent them from damping off in the soil.

Never allow plumeria cutting compost to become too wet.

Dehydrated plumeria cutting

While plumeria cuttings and mature plumeria prefer to be kept well-drained, and on the drier side, they still need access to water. Dehydrating can occur in two ways:

  1. Under-watering, or over-exposure to sunlight
  2. Over-watering, causing roots to rot

In either scenario, the roots can’t keep up with the plant’s demand, so watering should be amended accordingly.

Plumeria stem-rot

It’s important to keep some humidity around a plumeria cutting for the first few weeks, but after that, it needs to be well ventilated. Stem-rot occurs where damage has happened, or root rot spread upwards.

For mild stem-rot try rubbing baking soda and water over the area to dry it out, but for more serious cases where the stem has turned black, you’ll need to cut below that point so the healthy stem can recover.

Plumeria cutting pests

Frangipani is probably the most attractive plant you can grow… for pests. Thrips, spider mites, and mealybugs all adore the sweet nectar, and rich chlorophyll on young plumeria, and infestations will kill young plants very quickly.

Use rubbing alcohol or neem oil to keep pests in check on your young plants.

Plumeria Propagation FAQs

In the following section, we answer some of the most common questions regarding plumeria cuttings, how to take them, when to take them, and the alternative methods to those in this article.

Can I root plumeria cutting in water?

You can root frangipani cuttings in water which prevents bacterial build-up around young plants, but by doing this you create weaker roots that are adapted to water rather than soil. Cuttings rooted in soil are more adapted and cope better against bacteria and fungus than cuttings in water.

What month do you plant plumeria cuttings?

Plumeria cuttings should be planted in late spring and summer to give them the best chance of survival. For most of the northern hemisphere, this means planting your plumeria cuttings in May or June.

Can you grow plumeria from cuttings?

Plumeria is really easy to grow from cuttings when you know how. Our guide is full of useful tips and tricks to get you started, but as long as you provide good drainage, and don’t let the soil dry out entirely, plumeria can be a great way to start a new plant collection from cuttings.

How do you take cuttings from a plumeria?

Plumerias are temperamental plants that don’t like to be damaged in any way. So while rooting cuttings from plumeria is straightforward, it’s important to limit the damage to the parent plant as much as possible. Use clean secateurs, and use rubbing alcohol to clean the wounds and help callous over the parent plant’s cut.

Final thoughts on Plumeria cuttings

And that’s it! Taking plumeria cuttings is a great way to understand your garden, and get closer to your collection of tropical trees. Now you’ve got your cutting, make sure to provide it with good air circulation, and avoid the full sun in mid-summer.

Your new plumeria will be flowering in no time and before you know it you’ll be taking cuttings from your cuttings.

4 thoughts on “Plumeria Cutting Propagation: How to Grow Plumeria Cuttings”

  1. I have an older potted plumeria that has branches at about 30″ height, which isn’t optimal for my space or for standing upright unaided. Between the soil and the branches, the trunk has an 8″ section that is smaller and dried out looking. Is there a way to renovate this tree without starting over with the branches as cuttings? Can I soften the trunk damage with moisture or oils so that section can grow in girth to support the tree top better? Can I plant the tree successively deeper over a few re-pottings to “shorten” the trunk and grow new roots above the current root ball?
    Thanks for your reply!

    Reply
  2. Excellent article. I brought a small plumeria back from Hawaii several years ago and it now has 5 plants about 4 feet tall. We have a few blooms this year. Your article will be helpful in keeping it growing. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. That’s alot of missed information and disinformation. I have been growing plumerias for years in Houston TX. Never used pebbles as they don’t contain nutrients much less the high amount of phosphorus they love. I use all soil…any kind whatever is at home depot or lowes is perfect. Next PLUMERIA FOOD is essential for flowers.

    Next bushing them out to a beautiful canopy by using simple cutting technique, mine blooms up to a dozen or more huge bouquets of white and pink flowers and smell sooo good. So look don’t just stick a cutting in the ground. Cut the top right off, after a week or 2…. 3 little bumps will grow below where you cut it and those grow to 3 branches instead of just one and one flower pod. After the 3 branches grow nice and good size cut them off and you ha e 3 cutting more to plant and each of the ones you cut with have 3 more times 3 so now you have a plumeria that’s going from 3 branches to 9! And so on and so forth.

    And the biggest mistake of all……people think they need shade and a ton of water. Mine thrive in 100 percent sunlight all day long even in 110 degree Houston heat. I have pics to back up everything!!
    I grow exotics, any kind right in my front yard. Skip all this nonsense, stick it in the ground or pot where it’s sunny allll day, get plumeria feet, water twice a week. Done deal

    Reply

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