Plumeria Fertilizers: The Ultimate Guide

Plumeria, also known as frangipani plants, are tropical plants grown for their traditional lei flowers, used in garlands and leis in Hawaii, and for their beautiful scent around the world. Their fragrance is the main reason for their popularity, but it also causes a host of pest problems and needs the best fertilizers to support their growth as well as boost their scent.

In this article, I’ll cover the best plumeria plant food, and the best organic fertilizers you can buy. We’ll also explore the ins and outs of plumeria growth, and explain what your plumeria plants need, and when, to promote healthy root growth, healthy plumeria foliage, and successful flowering every time.

Best Plumeria Fertilizers for 2022

1) Down to Earth Organic Bone Meal Fertilizer

Down to Earth is a name every gardener should know, producing multi-purpose and effective plant fertilizers that give you exactly what you need. For Plumeria, their bone meal is a brilliant organic fertilizer with a 3-15-0 NPK ratio, meaning it has a huge impact on blooms through its high phosphorous content, and the added calcium that bone meal provides leads to blooms that stay on the plant for longer.

The downside to Bone Meal is that it contains little to no potassium, but this can be added through foliar sprays as part of your routine, and because Down to Earth Bone Meal is a slow-release granular feed that you scatter over the soil, it lasts all year from one application.

Pros

  • Organic
  • Slow Release granular feed
  • Safe for humans and pets
  • High phosphorous
  • Recycleable & compostable packaging
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants • Low potassium (required additional folia feed)

Cons

  • Bone meal has a slight smell, which can attract vermin

 

2) Down to Earth Organic Rock Phosphate Fertilizer

Rock Phosphate has long been used by commercial growers to promote better blooms, the all-natural product has high calcium and promotes long-term soil health, with one of the slowest natural releases of nutrients you can buy. Calcium will not harm your plants but improves soil health, and if your plant has deficiencies will boost bud retention.

While rock phosphate is best used as a soil improver prior to planting, it can be mixed into compost as an effective annual mulch. The downside of rock phosphate is that is 0-3-0 NPK, meaning it has absolutely no potassium or nitrogen, which can lead to nitrogen deficiencies and weaker roots, so should be supplemented with another common feed throughout the year (liquid seaweed or a tomato feed once a month would be enough).

Pros

  • Organic
  • Slow Release granular feed
  • Safe for humans and pets
  • Hih phosphorous
  • No smell
  • Recyclable & compostable packaging
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants

Cons

  • Low potassium and nitrogen (requires additional foliar feed, or tomato feed to balance soil nutrients)

 

3. Garden Rich Triple Super Phosphate

Triple Super Phosphate is specially produced from mineral sources and is safe for humans and pets. Its uniquely high phosphorous content means it is great for boosting phosphorous levels instantly and can be used as a granular or soluble feed.

I have used this in the past as soluble feed when I forgot to feed my plumeria throughout spring, and it worked really effectively to give its blooms a boost. As a regular feed, this is likely to over-fertilize your plant, so should be used sparingly.

Pros

  • Safe for humans and pets
  • High phosphorous
  • No smell
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants
  • Readily available phosphorous in high concentrations can be too strong from regular use

Cons

  • Low potassium and nitrogen (requires additional foliar feed, or tomato feed to balance soil nutrients)
  • Plastic packaging
  • Not organic (but derived from natural materials)

 

4. Flower Fuel Bloom Booster

Flower fuel is a great soluble fertilizer for regular use, with balanced potassium and phosphorous and trace amounts of Nitrogen (1%) so won’t require an annual mulch or any supplementary feeding.

While it isn’t entirely organic, none of its ingredients are toxic, so it is safe for use indoors as well as in the garden. It’s a great general fertilizer for any fragrant plants with a good mix of potassium and phosphorous to give a huge boost to essential oils in the plant – this is what provides the majority of fragrances, and better flowers from your plumeria that will absolutely fill your home with their beautiful scent.

I’ve used flower fuel a few times, but mostly use it for bromeliads indoors, as they are foliage first plants, with typically quite weak roots. I find the nitrogen supports the roots just enough, and there is enough phosphorous to support their delicate flowers.

Pros

  • Safe for humans and pets
  • High phosphorous, with balanced potassium levels
  • Quick-release fertilizer for soluble liquid feeds
  • No smell
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants

Cons

  • Plastic packaging
  • Not organic

 

5. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Bloom Booster

Miracle-Gro is one of the most trusted garden brands in the world for good reason, they produce safe, easy-to-use fertilizers that come with a whole range of kits you can buy to help with the job. For me though, Miracle-Gro Bloom booster just isn’t quite as effective for Plumeria. It’s a great phosphorus provider, but with a 10-52-10 NPK ratio, it’s a little too balanced.

That balance may well be useful for some gardeners though, as it’s useful all over the garden and can be used with all kinds of tropical flowering plants, not just plumeria. As a useful go-to fertilizer to have in the garage it’s a very useful feed, but if I’m honest, there are more effective bloom boosters on the market.

Miracle-Gro works really well on hibiscus and bougainvillea, with a similar effect to plumeria. Great general plant health, which leads to better blooms.

Pros

  • High phosphorous, with balanced potassium and nitrogen levels
  • Quick-release fertilizer for soluble liquid feeds
  • No smell
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants
  • Recyclable packaging

Cons

  • Not organic
  • Not safe for humans or pets
  • On test, this is great plant food, but not that effective for blooms.

 

6. Dr. Earth Exotic Blend

Dr. Earth’s Exotic Blend is primarily fish blood and bone, with added kelp and magnesium sulfate. The reason this works for plumeria is the added humic acid which helps produce better soil conditions for the plant in general. While it is actually a 6-4-6 NPK fertilizer (so not designed for blooms) it promotes a healthier plant in general which can, if the conditions are right give you absolutely perfect blooms.

I have friends who have used this with great success, but we tried it a few years ago, and the results were great foliage, and very few pest problems, but limited blooms with less scent. It’s a great fertilizer to have in the home due to its multiple uses on other tropical house plants, and particularly fantastic for foliage plants like ferns and palms.

Pros

  • Organic
  • Safe for humans and pets
  • Quick-release fertilizer for soluble liquid feeds
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants

Cons

  • Plastic packaging
  • The fish blood and bone contents do have the rather unpleasant effect of attracting vermin, and can make house pets dig up the plants.
  • On test, this is great plant food, but not that effective for blooms.
  • Well balanced plant food but with limited phosphorus

 

7. RAW Phosphorus

9-61-0 NPK might seem pretty extreme, but RAW Phosphorous is actually a pretty incredible plumeria feed. It’s not developed specifically for plumeria and is great for bougainvillea in particular, but it works brilliantly at bud production, which in turn, makes bigger lai flowers. It’s not organic and isn’t safe for pets though.

One comment I feel it is important to make is that there are some claims online that this product supports the plant during rooting, but this is NOT a rooting powder, and should never be sued as a replacement. It might well help root growth initially but will lead to weaker roots when the plant needs potting on.

Please use this sensibly and only when the plant starts to grow leaves and buds in its final position.

Pros

  • No smell
  • High phosphorous levels with added nitrogen for fast root support.
  • Quick-release fertilizer for soluble liquid feeds
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants

Cons

  • Plastic packaging
  • Not organic
  • Not safe for humans or pets

 

8. EarthPods Premium Hibiscus & Tropical Flower Plant Food

Earth pods are like a mini medicine cabinet for your plants, and I honestly love them. They are completely organic too so are safe for use indoors and out, and as a contained granular feed can be pushed into the soil right next to the base of the plant for slow but targeted release of nutrients.

They are specially manufactured to support the strong plant growth of hibiscus, plumeria, crocosmia, and bird of paradise, but work equally well with non-tropical flowering plants too. Essentially, if your aim is fragrance, this is genuinely good plant food!

Pros

  • Organic
  • Safe for humans and pets
  • Slow-release fertilizer, for targeted release
  • Balanced phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen, at 2-2-5 NPK.
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants
  • Sustainable packaging

Cons

  • Primarily a foliage feed, but works well with flowers.

 

9. Nelson Plumeria Plant and all Flowering Tropicals Food

For years, Nelson has been seen as the best plumeria feed on the market, with 5-30-5 NPK and great slow-release granules for a single annual application. Perfectly developed for plumeria there is a reason it is still the best selling plumeria feed on the market, but for me, the decided levels of NPK already in the mix limit my options later in the year so I prefer a more phosphorous heavy granular feed to start, and potassium later in the year as a folia feed.

Pros

  • The perfect balance of NPK
  • Slow-release granular feed
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants, but is designed specifically for plumeria

Cons

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

 

10. Dr. Earth Flower Girl Organic Bud & Bloom Booster

Right, so we’ve already seen Dr. Earth’s Exotic Blend, but they also sell a bud & bloom booster, which is better value as you will need to use it less regularly, and a better NP ratio at 3-9-4. For a start, 9 is pretty amazing, as it’s a really healthy dose without being so high that you need to worry about over-feeding. It’s a mix of essentially everything we’ve spoken about so far, with fish blood and bone, and soft rock sulfate, for blooms, and mined potassium sulfate for foliage.

The biggest benefit of Dr. Earth’s Flower Girl is that it’s great for other greenhouse or indoor plants too. Where I live I can only grow citrus in the greenhouse, so thanks to the great potassium content in this, in combination with the phosphate it’s doing two jobs at once: feeding the leaves that my citrus (and plumeria) need to restart in spring, and boosting the essential oils needed for fragrant blooms (and fruit in the case of my orange tree).

Pros

  • Organic
  • Safe for humans and pets
  • Slow-release granular feed
  • Can be used all over the garden on most flowering plants, but is particularly good for fragrant perennials

Cons

  • Plastic Packaging
  • Not safe for humans or pets
  • The fish blood and bone contents do have the rather unpleasant effect of attracting vermin.

 

Why do you need to Fertilize Plumeria Plants?

Lei flowers require a lot of extra nutrients due to their large tropical flowers which are supported in their natural environment by more fertile soil, which due to limited cultivation retains most of its nutrients.

In commercial and domestic settings those nutrients need topping up, partly to supplement natural water and partly to recreate the soil conditions created by fallen leaf litter which we usually clear away in our gardens due to humidity and fungal build-up. Fertilizing plumeria promotes root growth in these wonderful tropical plants, and boosts the overall plant performance, leading to gorgeous flowers and more fragrant blooms.

When and how to Fertilize Plumeria Species?

Ok, so we’ve covered how to set your plumeria up for a healthy root system and reliable foliage growth, so let’s start thinking about exactly how and when to fertilize them.

There are loads of considerations here, including how old your plumeria is (young plumeria need less fertilizer than mature plumeria, but have more complex fertilizer requirements) and the time of year.

We’ll go into proper detail later about the different types of fertilizer too, but to start with, let’s cover the basics of how, when, and why we fertilize plumeria at different growth stages.

How often to fertilize plumeria plants

Plumerias should be given balanced plant food every 2-3 weeks. Adding anything more than this will shock the roots and can lead to yellowed leaves, and leaf drop, in just the same way as over-watering. It’s also important, especially when using liquid fertilizers to include them in your existing watering routine, rather than adding to it.

For young plants, never fertilize them until the top inch of soil is completely dry. Try mixing a liquid feed in with water, then placing your young plumeria in a tray. This causes water to be sucked up from below, which encourages roots to grow downwards in search of water. It’s a great tip for any young plants, but especially plumeria.

Best time to fertilize plumerias

Plumerias are very susceptible to over-humidifying. In fact, we covered some of the fungal problems in our article about black-tip fungus. Because of this, it is always best to use any liquid feeds during the day, which will give the plant the chance to drink in the goodness before it is leached away into the soil.

For granular fertilizers, these should be used once a year in spring, or to aid recovery after a plumeria illness. Granular fertilizers are mostly slow-release and are a soil additive rather than a direct-to-root fertilizer, and overusing them can create excessive nutrients.

The tip above for watering during the day while the sun is out is even more important for foliar feeds, which we’ll look at in detail later because foliar feeds add significantly to the humidity on leaves, and if used in the evening will slow down any transpiration.

How to fertilize mature plumeria

Proper fertilization of an established plumeria tree is easy and doesn’t need too much attention. Fertilizing once a month with a liquid feed will be enough to keep your plumeria producing gorgeous flowers, alternatively mixing granular feed into mulch in spring can often be enough for plumerias. The slow-release will last for most of the year as long as the plant isn’t overwatered.

Over-fertilization can raise acid levels in the soil too high but can be reduced by adding Epsom salt, dissolved in warm water, which lowers the pH in the soil quickly. Signs that this is needed are yellow leaves without wilt. The plumeria will start to dry out and look thirsty.

How to fertilize young plumeria

Firstly, make sure your plumeria is in a bright sunny position but not in full sun. While they are tropical plants, they require dappled light rather than full sun exposure. For young plants to achieve the most fragrant flowers, they need the right fertilizer mix.

For me, this means a concerned approach to foliar feeds and regular but limited water-soluble feeds. I use a weekly foliar feed for the plumeria in my greenhouse, but just monthly for the plumeria in my conservatory, as the house is cooler and more humid than the greenhouse. I pair this with an organic liquid feed once a month.

Fertilizing routine for young plumeria:

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

For young plants, especially those that have recently rooted from cuttings, any granular feeds should be avoided, and they put the plant at higher risk of root burn, and later, over acidifying the soil. Mature plants can cope with it, and it is a good way to save time and money, but your plumeria needs gentle and considered feeding throughout the growing season.

How to fertilize plumeria cuttings

Root growth is the only important thing for Plumeria cuttings. the leaves will only follow when roots have been established, so any foliar, liquid, or granular feed will build up in the soil. The only thing to add to a Plumeria cutting is to dip the cut end in rooting hormone.

Under no circumstances should you fertilize a plumeria cutting until after your cutting has rooted. Use rooting hormone to help the cutting establish, and do not feed your cutting at all in late autumn or winter in its first year. when the cutting grows trues leaves and begins branching out, you can fertilize into autumn, but still, leave it unwatered and un-fed in winter to avoid soil drench. Plumeria takes no goodness from the soil in winter, as they are completely dormant.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer for Your Plumeria

NPK fertilizer labels refer to the quantities of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) contained in commercial fertilizers. They give an indication of what is going to be best for which plants, so when looking for NPK ratios for a plumeria fertilizer, you should be aiming for high potassium and phosphorous, but low nitrogen.

These tropical flowering plants need phosphorous above all else as it promotes flowering rather than foliage growth. In the early stages of a plumeria’s life, a more balanced feed is useful to help get roots started and develop foliage, but mature plumeria, in particular, should use a feed at a ratio of 5:30:5 NPK for bigger blooms and more flowers.

Nitrogen encourages growth of roots in young plumeria, but too much nitrogen can lead to over-stimulated roots which grow too thinly, and won’t do enough work when the plant establishes to properly feed the plumeria plants. Like all flowering plants, plumeria needs phosphorous to develop healthy buds, and potassium to build healthy foliage.

The best plumeria fertilizers use both and have a small amount of Nitrogen to support existing roots.

Choosing the Right Form of Plumeria Fertilizer

Granular fertilizer

A granular fertilizer will provide all the nutrients you need, and can be used elsewhere in the garden, for African violets or hibiscus too, which prefer slow-release nutrients through the growing season.

Granular fertilizers are easy to come by in garden centers and online, but some, like chicken manure, can be too high in Nitrogen (usually 4-3-2 NPK). An annual mulch won’t harm your plumeria though, and if they are planted in the soil in a greenhouse will usually leech out into the soil to help other plants.

Because granular fertilizer releases nutrients slowly, you simply scatter over the soil, and a conservative application can last most of the year.

Liquid fertilizers / Water-soluble fertilizers

There are two types of liquid fertilizers for plumeria, pre-mixed and water-soluble. If you run an organic garden, water-soluble fertilizers should be used with caution as 99% of them are contain synthetic chemicals and toxic ingredients to children and pets.

Both are easy to use though, as they are ready to water straight onto the plant, and have the exact nutrient ratio measured out already, so overfeeding is only a problem if you water too frequently, or overestimate the dose to dissolve in warm water for water-soluble fertilizers.

The biggest advantage of a liquid fertilizer is that it releases nutrients quickly. You’ll be doing more work through the year, but you can respond to any signs of under watering, overfeeding, or insect problems immediately by adjusting your feed routine.

Foliar spray

Foliar sprays are great for young plants, and for occasional use on mature plumeria, but aren’t really necessary as the main aim of growing plumeria is the blossom.

Foliar feed does help to promote stronger plants though so after lowering has finished, can be worked into feed routines easily to help the plant build strong stems to host buds next year.

Plumeria Fertilizer FAQs

Should I fertilize plumeria cuttings?

Plumeria cuttings benefit from rooting hormone as soon as the cuttings are taken, but shouldn’t be fed with anything other than after until the roots have been established. If you take Plumeria cuttings in water, then leave two weeks after transplanting in the soil before you first fertilize your young plants.

Can you fertilize plumeria when the soil is dry?

there are two reasons to avoid fertilizing plumeria when the soil is dry: 1) Dry soil doesn’t hold water, so you risk wasting your feed as it runs straight through the pot; 2) The drier the soil is, the faster roots take in nutrients as they are over-thirsty, which can shock the plant.

When should I fertilize my plumeria after dormancy?

After dormancy, plumerias should’ve watered when they begin to show new leaves. As the year’s early buds emerge, the plant will be searching for nutrients to help develop leaves or buds. by fertilizing now, you encourage flowers rather than leaves.

Should I fertilize my plumeria when it starts to bloom indoors?

Yes, plumeria should be fertilized regularly throughout the year, and by using a phosphorous heavy fertilizer you encourage stronger buds that will hold onto the plant for longer. Only stop watering when fall beings to set in, and do not feed plumeria at all through winter.

Final Thoughts

Organic feeds provide the most natural environment for plumeria and are the most balanced way to provide them with the nutrients they need. There is no single answer to what the best fertilizer is, but ensuring that you listen to your plumeria, and follow the clues it gives you through the growing season is integral to producing bigger blooms and brighter foliage.

Plumeria should be given predominantly phosphorus-rich organic liquid fertilizers, with occasional foliar feed after flowering to support next year’s blooms, but ensuring proper drainage will help you keep on top of a regular routine for your tropical plants. There are some great tropical fertilizers on the market, but for me, the best plumeria fertilizers are the ones nature gave us, particularly rock phosphate.

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